Topics in the News: Drug War

Bernie Sanders on Drugs : Nov 15, 2016
We must end the "War on drugs"

Because of over-policing in minority communities and racial profiling, African-Americans are twice as likely to be arrested than whites.

Of course, the intersection of racism and criminal justice is not limited to police violence. To my mind, an even bigger issue is the failed "War on Drugs," which has over the decades harmed millions of lives through the arrest and jailing of people for nonviolent crimes. The number of incarcerated drug offenders has increased TWELVEFOLD since 1980, and this "war" has disproportionately targeted people of color.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, blacks and whites use drugs at roughly the same overall rates. However, blacks are arrested for drug use at far greater rates than whites, largely because of over-policing, racial profiling, and--according to the Department of Justice--the fact that blacks are three times more likely to be searched during a traffic stop compared with white motorists.

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: Our Revolution, by Bernie Sanders, p. 377-379

Marco Rubio on Drugs : Oct 9, 2016
Prove medical benefits to FDA before legalizing marijuana

Q: On Marijuana: Decriminalize and/or legalize marijuana?

Murphy: Voted for related bills like rights of states to choose, access to banking for marijuana businesses, access for veterans. Supports legislation that protects businesses and individuals in states where marijuana has been legalized, including permission for Veterans Affairs to recommend marijuana treatment to veterans in states that allow its therapeutic use.

Rubio: Opposes legalization. Backs federal override of state laws. Might consider low-THC strains for limited medical conditions. Rubio supports first requiring an FDA process and proven medical benefits; will continue to oppose legalization or decriminalization; supports enforcement of federal laws over state laws.

Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: CampusElect Voter Guide to 2016 Florida Senate race

Evan McMullin on Drugs : Oct 1, 2016
Opposes legalization of marijuana

Q: Do you support the legalization of Marijuana?

A: No

Click for Evan McMullin on other issues.   Source: Voter Guide on 2016 Presidential hopefuls

Jill Stein on Drugs : Aug 8, 2016
Replace drug prohibition with harm reduction

Click for Jill Stein on other issues.   Source: Stein-Baraka platform on 2016 presidential campaign website

Ajamu Baraka on Drugs : Aug 8, 2016
Replace drug prohibition with harm reduction

Click for Ajamu Baraka on other issues.   Source: Stein-Baraka platform on 2016 presidential campaign website

Mike Pence on Principles & Values : Aug 1, 2016
OpEd: More conservative than Trump on many domestic issues

Gun rightsExceptions & local restrictions okHard-core pro-Second Amendment
War on DrugsCautious approach following statesHard-core drug warrior
Infrastructure investmentInvest in transportation infrastructureOpposes federal investment; leave it to states
Campaign financeMixed views on reform Campaign donation limits are censorship
Tax reductionCreative ideas including raising some taxesNo-new-taxes pledge on all taxation
Minimum wage & affirmative actionSome support of both Unambiguously opposes both
Gay marriage Supreme Court rulingAccept it as the law of the landOverturn that ruling
Iraq WarOpposed invasionSupported invasion
Click for Mike Pence on other issues.   Source: Trump/Pence vs. Clinton/Kaine On the Issues, by Jesse Gordon

Tim Kaine on Drugs : Jul 23, 2016
Against decriminalizing marijuana at state or federal level

Kaine's regressive and repressive views and votes on marijuana recently earned him into a "hall of shame" over at Just last month, they consolidated NORML's congressional scorecard, and displayed the names of 26 current US senators to whom they have given an "F" rating. Unsurprisingly, only four were Democrats; unfortunately, one of those four prohibitionists is Tim Kaine. He said: "I wouldn't vote for a law at the federal or state level that would decriminalize marijuana."
Click for Tim Kaine on other issues.   Source:, "Prohibitionist VP": 2016 Veepstakes

Mike Pence on Drugs : Jul 16, 2016
Indiana will be tough on narcotics and drug dealers

Mike Pence is questioning legislation that dramatically decreases penalties involving pot, even for entry-level drug offenses. Pence has questioned if that's the right move. "I think this legislation, as it moves forward, should still seek to continue to send a way strong message to the people of Indiana and particularly to those who would come into our state to deal drugs, that we are tough and we're going to stay tough on narcotics.
Click for Mike Pence on other issues.   Source: Indiana Economic Digest on 2016 Indiana gubernatorial race

Gary Johnson on Drugs : Jul 7, 2016
Mass shootings result from War on Drugs "shoot first" notion

Q: How do you react when you see these mass shootings, like the one yesterday in Minnesota?

JOHNSON: I'm perpetually horrified by all of it. I do think that the basis for all these shootings really is the war on drugs--and I realize that drugs were not an issue in this particular case, but I do believe that that is the root of all this.

Q: Well explain: What was it in this Minnesota case--yesterday the guy was selling CDs--how do you connect it to the war on drugs?

JOHNSON: Well, just that that's where it started, the notion of "shoot first", that it's drug-related, that doors get broken down, that everybody's a drug dealer or everybody's a criminal. That's where I believe that this all started. I don't have all the answers for what happened.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Washington Post joint interview of Johnson & Weld

Gary Johnson on Drugs : Jul 7, 2016
Harm reduction strategies for heroin but no legalization

Q: Let me ask about that. Of all the drugs that are illegal, the only you're favoring legalizing is marijuana.


Q: Why is that?

JOHNSON: Well, in my lifetime, I don't think heroin is going to be legal, and I think there's a real misunderstanding if you talk about "legal heroin." Perhaps there's not a misunderstanding if you talk about "harm reduction strategies" that do work, reducing death, disease, crime, corruption, things that people really care about. And you can look at Zurich & Vancouver as examples, but it's a segue into talking about the issue as a health issue as opposed to a criminal justice issue; there's only so much that people can digest at one time. I think that legalization of marijuana is going to happen. I think that California this fall will be the tipping point, that Californians will vote to legalize recreational marijuana. That's going to be a quantum leap forward for the whole country when it comes to understanding the issues surrounding drugs.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Washington Post joint interview of Johnson & Weld

Gary Johnson on Crime : Jun 22, 2016
Men of color four times as likely to end up behind bars

Q: Libertarians haven't traditionally embraced the Black Lives Matter movement. Would you and why?

JOHNSON: Yes. Well, I do. And I'll come back to the drug war. If you're of color, there's a four times more likelihood that you'll end up behind bars than if you're not of color. And I think so much of "shoot first" has its roots in the drug war. Knock the door down and shoot. We'd like to bring an end to the drug war, and by that treat the issue as a health issue, not a criminal justice issue.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: CNN Libertarian Town Hall: joint interview of Johnson & Weld

Gary Johnson on Drugs : Jun 22, 2016
No legalization of heroin, but apply harm reduction

Q: Please explain to me how you think that legalizing marijuana straight through to heroin can possibly be a harm reduction forum.

JOHNSON: We are not espousing the legalization of any drugs outside of marijuana. Prohibition [means that if] you're a heroin addict, and your supplier is arrested, and now comes a new supplier of heroin, and visually you're taking the same dose that you've taken before, but it's of a different quality and a different quantity, and it ends up killing you. So when you look at programs like Zurich, Switzerland, where they have a heroin maintenance program, the idea was no more overdose deaths, because as a heroin addict, you could get your dose, it would be a free dose, but you wouldn't die of an overdose. You'd have clean needles so that you'd be able to not succumb either to Hepatitis C, or HIV. The idea was to reduce death, disease, crime, and corruption, and that's what's happened in Zurich. It's prohibition, it's quality & quantity unknown that kills people.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: CNN Libertarian Town Hall: joint interview of Johnson & Weld

Bill Weld on Drugs : Jun 22, 2016
Substance abuse cases should not go to criminal prison

Q: What about drug treatment for drug addiction?

WELD: The trend which I think is salutary--that society is coming to view people who have serious issues with either narcotics or alcohol, that that is a public health emergency and it's not a status crime which it has been treated as. There's some movement away from incarcerating people for possessory narcotics offenses and treating that as a public health issue. In Massachusetts, for example, women who have substance abuse cases are no longer taken to criminal prison. They're taken to civil commitment facilities. And that's part of, I think, lessening the pressure all around drugs, in getting them out of the shadows.

JOHNSON: Needle exchange programs in states that reduce HIV and Hepatitis C--very controversial, but the bottom line is that it saves lives.

WELD: Boy, I came out for those when I was governor and did I get murdered.

Click for Bill Weld on other issues.   Source: CNN Libertarian Town Hall: joint interview of Johnson & Weld

Jill Stein on Drugs : May 9, 2016
The war on drugs is racist

We call for the end of the racist war on drugs. Substance abuse should be treated as a health issue, not as a crime. We demand the freeing of nonviolent drug offenders, who never should have been incarcerated in the first place. They not only deserve rehabilitation and education, they deserve jobs.

We need to build coalitions to link racial justice to climate justice to immigrant justice and to peace and democracy.

Click for Jill Stein on other issues.   Source: interview of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Gary Johnson on Families & Children : May 2, 2016
No to mandatory vaccines; let parents decide