Search for...
OnTheIssuesLogo

Dennis Kucinich on Drugs

Democratic Representative (OH-10)


Reduce sentencing disparity for crack cocaine retroactively

Q: The US Sentencing Commission recently limited the disparity in sentencing guidelines for those convicted of crimes involving crack cocaine versus crimes involving powder cocaine. Should that change be retroactive?

CLINTON: I believe we’ve got to decrease the disparity that exists. But I have problems with retroactivity.

DODD: I’d be inclined to say yes on the retroactivity.

EDWARDS: I’m not just inclined to say yes; the answer is yes, absolutely; it should be retroactive.

KUCINICH: Yes.

Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum Dec 1, 2007

Supports national ban on smoking in public places

Q: Over 400,000 Americans have premature death due to smoking or secondhand smoke. Who would favor a national law to ban smoking in all public places?

BIDEN: Yes. I would ban--in all public [places], nationally.

DODD: 3,000 kids start smoking every day in this country.

RICHARDSON: I did it in New Mexico as a national law.

KUCINICH: You bet I’ll go for a national law.

Q: So Biden, Dodd, Richardson, Gravel and Kucinich in favor of a national law.

EDWARDS: Wait, wait, wait, and Edwards.

Source: [Xref Edwards] 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth Sep 6, 2007

Lower drinking age from 21 to 18; and voting age to 16

Q: Would you as president remove the requirement that a state have a legal drinking age of 21 in order to receive federal highway funds, thereby returning the drinking age back to the states?

BIDEN: Absolutely no, I would not. The cost of alcoholism in America, the cost of accidents that flow from drunkenness, are astronomical.

DODD: No, I agree with Joe on this. The problems associated with alcohol are significant in our country. The evidence is overwhelming..

KUCINICH: You know, I think that not only about service, but we have to have confidence in young Americans. And a president who reaches out to them and talks to them about drinking responsibly is much better than a president who tells them, “Thou shalt not,” because young people will do what they do, but they’re looking for leadership from a president. I’m ready to provide that leadership. Of course they should be able to drink at age 18, and they should be able to vote at age 16.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

Medical marijuana should be decided by doctors & patients

Many people with AIDS and HIV, and many people with cancer have benefited from the 11 states with legalized medicinal marijuana. But the federal government have come into California and have raided our medicinal marijuana shops. So do you think we should have this law for the whole country?

A: Four years ago, when there were raids in California, I, as a member of Congress, objected to that. And, of course, it’s a matter between doctors and patients. And if doctors want to prescribe medical marijuana to relieve pain, compassion requires that the government support that. And so, as president of the US, I would make sure that our Justice Department was mindful that we should be taking a compassionate approach. I want to go one step further, because this whole issue of drugs in our society is misplaced. I mean, drugs have infected this society, but I think we need to look at it more as a medical and a health issue than as a criminal justice issue.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

Hasn’t smoked marijuana, but would decriminalize it

At the “Rock the Vote” debate, the moderator inevitably asked,. “Which of you are ready to admit to having used marijuana in the past?”

“Yes,” said John Kerry, leading off. “Yes,” said John Edwards . “Yes,” said Howard Dean. None of these three baby-boomer candidates said anything beyond their short, declarative affirmations. None followed with a hurried explanation that it was just a few times, that it was some kind of “youthful indiscretion,” or that he didn’t inhale. The implication of their answers seemed to be, “Yeah, so what?”

In fact, the defensive answers tended to come from those replying in the negative. “No,” said Dennis Kucinich. “But I think it ought to be decriminalized.”

“I grew up in the church,” said Al Sharpton. “We didn’t believe in that.”

“I have a reputation for giving unpopular answers,” said Joe Lieberman. “I never used marijuana. Sorry!”

In the next day’s news coverage, the admissions of marijuana smoking were largely ignored.

Source: [X-ref Kerry] Steven Holmes, NY Times Nov 9, 2003

Emphasizes rehabilitation over incarceration

Q: Most of the people who use drugs are white. Most of the people who are sentenced for drug possession and sales are black. What will you do to reverse this unfair trend?

KUCINICH: First of all, we have to acknowledge that drug sentencing ends up being discriminatory, that our drug laws are harsh in that they emphasize not just criminalization but they emphasize incarceration. We need different thinking today. My presidency will mean that we will begin to emphasize the rehabilitation of people who are afflicted with drug use. And we will begin to emphasize giving people an opportunity to fully recover. This is one of the reasons why we need a not-for-profit health care system which includes treatment of substance abusers. This is why we need to make sure we focus this country on a cause which takes us away from this punitive approach that we use for people who are trapped in drug use. We need an approach which emphasizes rehabilitation over incarceration.

Source: Congressional Black Caucus Institute debate Sep 9, 2003

War on Drugs benefits only the prison-industrial complex

A safe, free and just America is undermined, not bolstered, by the costly and ineffective War on Drugs. Criminalization over treatment has led to increased violent crime, misdirected resources of law enforcement and restricted Constitutional liberties. The US must rethink a policy that produces many casualties, but benefits only the prison-industrial complex.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” Aug 1, 2003

Racial bias in drug enforcement is pervasive

Racial bias in the enforcement of drug laws is pervasive. Drug use is consistent across racial and socioeconomic lines, yet in the state of New York, for example, 94% of incarcerated drug offenders are Latino or African-American, mostly from poor communities.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” Aug 1, 2003

Addiction is a medical and moral problem

Addiction is a medical and moral problem that should be treated by professionals, not dumped on the criminal justice system. In our country, only one bed exists for every ten people who apply for drug treatment.
Source: Campaign website, www.Kucinich.us, “On The Issues” Aug 1, 2003

Voted NO on more funding for Mexico to fight drugs.

Congressional Summary:Merida Initiative to Combat Illicit Narcotics and Reduce Organized Crime Authorization Act:
    Provide assistance for Mexico for:
  1. counternarcotics and countertrafficking;
  2. port & airport security to assist in controlling the Mexico-US and Mexico-Central America borders;
  3. intelligence gathering operational technology; and
  4. public security and law enforcement, including assistance to the National Council Against Addiction (CONADIC).

Proponent's argument to vote Yes:Rep. HOWARD BERMAN (D, CA-28): The drug crisis facing the US remains a top national security threat. This bill represents a new partnership with Mexico and Central American countries to face the immediate security threat of drug gangs, and help these neighbors build the capacity of their law enforcement agencies.

Opponent's argument to vote No:Rep. MICHAEL McCAUL (R, TX-10): We need a strategy on this side of the border: a two-pronged Approach; a comprehensive strategy that deals not only with the Mexican side but with the US side. And for too long, our border sheriffs and our Border Patrol agents have been outmanned and outgunned. And if we are going to provide assistance to Mexico, it seems to me we ought to be providing assistance to our men and women on our side fighting this war every day.

Rep. TED POE (R, TX-2): I am concerned about drugs and violence on the border, but I am also concerned about corruption. In order to gain control of access corridors in the US, drug cartels are hiring hit men from an elite force in Mexico's military. This group is known as the "Zetas." Some of the Zetas are military deserters that may have been trained in the US. $1 billion in this bill would go to Mexico. And Mexico in its arrogance objects to any conditions we want to put on this money. The administration can offer us no assurance that our equipment and training won't be used against us and neither can Mexico.

Reference: Merida Initiative; Bill HR.6028 ; vote number 2008-H393 on Jun 10, 2008

Voted NO on military border patrols to battle drugs & terrorism.

Amendment to set up a task force on counter-terrorism and drug interdiction and allow military personnel to help patrol U.S. borders.
Bill HR 2586 ; vote number 2001-356 on Sep 25, 2001

Voted NO on prohibiting needle exchange & medical marijuana in DC.

Vote to pass a bill that provides $429.1 million in funds for the District of Columbia and approves the District's $6.8 billion budget. Among other provisions, the bill prohibits the use of federal funds for needle exchange programs, prohibits implementing an approved ballot initiative to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Istook, R-OK; Bill HR 3064 ; vote number 1999-504 on Oct 14, 1999

Voted NO on subjecting federal employees to random drug tests.

Drug Demand Reduction Act: Vote on an amendment to require that anyone hired by the Federal Government is subject to random, unannounced drug testing.
Reference: Amendment by Taylor, D-MS; bill by Portman, R-OH.; Bill HR 4550 ; vote number 1998-443 on Sep 16, 1998

Rated A+ by VOTE-HEMP, indicating a pro-hemp voting record.

Kucinich scores A+ by VOTE-HEMP on pro-hemp legalization policies

VOTE HEMP is a non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for Industrial Hemp. Industrial Hemp is non-psychoactive low THC varieties of the cannabis sativa plant. Currently, it is illegal for U.S. farmers to grow Industrial Hemp because it is improperly classified as a "drug" under the Controlled Substances Act. Since changes in law require shifts in thinking and this requires education in the facts, our primary goal is the education of legislators and regulators, farmers and businesses, students and other concerned citizens.

Source: VOTE-HEMP website 02n-HEMP on Dec 31, 2003

Rated +10 by NORML, indicating a pro-drug-reform stance.

Kucinich scores +10 by the NORML on drug reform

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 NORML scores as follows:

About NORML (from their website, www.norml.org):

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law's mission is to move public opinion sufficiently to achieve the repeal of marijuana prohibition so that the responsible use of cannabis by adults is no longer subject to penalty.

NORML is a nonprofit, public-interest lobby that for more than 30 years has provided a voice for those Americans who oppose marijuana prohibition. We represent the interests of the tens of millions of Americans who smoke marijuana responsibly and believe the recreational and medicinal use of marijuana should no longer be a crime.

NORML supports the removal of all criminal penalties for the private possession & responsible use of marijuana by adults, including the cultivation for personal use, and the casual nonprofit transfers of small amounts. This model is called "decriminalization."

NORML additionally supports the development of a legally controlled market for marijuana, where consumers could purchase it from a safe, legal and regulated source. This model is referred to as "legalization."

NORML believes that marijuana smoking is not for kids and should only be used responsibly by adults. As with alcohol consumption, it must never be an excuse for misconduct or other bad behavior. Driving or operating heavy equipment while impaired from marijuana should be prohibited.

NORML strongly supports the right of patients to use marijuana as a medicine when their physician recommends it to relieve pain and suffering.

Lastly, NORML supports the right of farmers to commercially cultivate hemp for industrial purposes, such as food and fiber production.

Source: NORML website 06n-NORML on Dec 31, 2006

Allow rehabilitated drug convicts get student loans.

Kucinich co-sponsored allowing rehabilitated drug convicts get student loans

This bill amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to repeal the provisions prohibiting persons convicted of drug offenses from receiving student financial assistance.

Source: Removing Impediments to Students Education (RISE) (H.R.5157) 08-HR5157 on Jan 29, 2008

Distribute sterile syringes to reduce AIDS and hepatitis.

Kucinich signed Community AIDS and Hepatitis Prevention Act

To permit the use of Federal funds for syringe exchange programs for purposes of reducing the transmission of bloodborne pathogens, including HIV and viral hepatitis.

    Congress finds as follows:
  1. Each year, approximately 12,000 Americans contract HIV/AIDS and approximately 19,000 Americans contract the hepatitis C virus directly or indirectly from sharing contaminated syringes.
  2. A 2005 comprehensive international review of the evidence of the effectiveness of syringe exchange programs in preventing HIV transmission shows that such programs reduce HIV transmission and are cost-effective.
  3. Research has shown that injection drug users who are referred to addiction treatment from syringe exchange programs are more likely to enter and remain in treatment.
  4. Research has shown that, by providing safe disposal of used injection equipment, syringe exchange programs significantly reduce the number of improperly discarded syringes in the community, thereby reducing the exposure of police and others to dangers of blood-borne disease from accidental syringe sticks.
  5. Syringe exchange programs reduce the prevalence of HIV among injection drug users.
  6. Despite the scientific and public health consensus that syringe exchange programs reduce HIV and do not increase substance abuse, a ban on funding syringe exchange has been enacted as part of each Appropriations Act since 1998.
  7. The Public Health Service Act, as added by the Ryan White Comprehensive AIDS Resources Emergency Act of 1990, is subject to a statutory ban on funding needle exchange programs.
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, nothing shall prohibit the use of Federal funds to establish or carry out a program of distributing sterile syringes to reduce the transmission of bloodborne pathogens, including the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and viral hepatitis.
Source: HR 179 2009-H179 on Jan 6, 2009

Other candidates on Drugs: Dennis Kucinich on other issues:
Nominees:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
Abortion
Budget/Economy
Civil Rights
Corporations
Crime
Drugs
Education
Energy/Oil
Environment
Families/Children
Foreign Policy
Free Trade
Govt. Reform
Gun Control
Health Care
Homeland Security
Immigration
Infrastructure/Technology
Jobs
Principles/Values
Social Security
Tax Reform
War/Iraq/Mideast
Welfare/Poverty

Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010