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Jimmy Carter on Drugs

President of the U.S., 1977-1981


Declared White House to be officially "dry"

Early in his presidency, Carter proclaimed that the White House would be "dry." Each time a state dinner was held, the White House made a point of telling reporters that no liquor--only wine--would be served. "The Carters were the biggest liars in the world," the director of the White House Military Office said. "The word was passed to get rid of all the booze. There can't be any on Air Force One, in Camp David, or in the White House."

[When the alcohol was removed, the staffer continued], "I get a call from the mess saying, 'They want Bloody Marys before going to church. What should I do?' I said, 'Find some booze and take it up to them.' "

[Another staffer confirms], "Occasionally Carter had a martini." Rosalynn would have a screwdriver. Lillian Carter, Carter's own mother, contradicted her son's claim. In a 1977 interview with The New York Times, she said that, even though the White House was officially "dry," she managed to have a nip of bourbon every afternoon when she stayed there.

Source: In the President`s Secret Service, by Ron Kessler, p. 74-75 , Jun 29, 2009

Never smoked; parents and siblings all died of cancer

My father's independent nature rebelled against an addiction that controlled him, though, and this brought about one of my most memorable conversations with him. One day, about the time I became a teenager, he said, "Jimmy, I need to talk to you about something important. There is something I want you to promise me."

"Yes, sir, Daddy."

"I don't want you to smoke a cigarettes until you are 21 years old."

"No, sir, Daddy, I won't."

He then made an unnecessary commitment. "When the time comes, I'll give you a gold watch."

I kept my promise, and so did he. I was a midshipman at the Naval Academy when I reached legal maturity, and I bought a package of cigarettes. I took one puff, didn't like it, and never smoked another. Unfortunately, my mother and my three siblings took up Daddy's habit, and all died of cancer.

Source: An Hour Before Daylight, by Jimmy Carter, p.204 , Dec 16, 2001

We stopped treating alcoholism as a crime; that helped

The Drug Enforcement Agency, created in 1973, has already been tainted by scandals that forced its director to resign.

Our overcrowded court system is now a major cause of crime.

We should encourage local police to give priority to violent crimes- assault, robbery, rape, muggings, murders. When I was Governor of Georgia, we stopped treating alcoholism as a crime to provide increased medical help to alcoholics and to free our police and courts to concentrate on violent crimes.

Source: Campaign Speech in Detroit, in “Good As Its People,” p. 220 , Oct 15, 1976

As governor, implemented drug abuse programs

Carter showed himself to be a highly impatient man. He wanted quick action, and when he didn't get it, he often took matters into his own hands. Thus when the State Board of Health delayed in starting the programs in drug abuse and family planning that he had requested, Carter went ahead and implemented them himself through executive action. He also decided to abolish the State Board of Health. When he couldn't get his way with the legislature, Carter frequently took his case to the people.
Source: Jimmy Who?, by Leslie Wheeler, p. 86 , Jan 1, 1976

Supports decriminalization of marijuana

Believing that drug laws are a little too rigid, he supports the decriminalization of possession of small amounts of marijuana.
Source: Jimmy Who?, by Leslie Wheeler, p.185 , Jan 1, 1976

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Drugs.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Jimmy Carter.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Jimmy Carter.
Other past presidents on Drugs: Jimmy Carter on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole
V.P.Walter Mondale

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Page last updated: Jan 06, 2014