Topics in the News: Drug War

Lawrence Lessig on Drugs : Oct 29, 2015
War on Drugs is most self-destructive war in U.S. history

The so-called "War on Drugs" has been the most self-destructive war in American history since the Civil War. Motivated by the same naive idea that led America into prohibition, the war has cost billions of dollars, and countless American lives; it has weakened civil rights, and it has destroyed and democracy of the many South and Central American nations drawn into the illegal drug trade.

We must acknowledge the mistake of this war. Not the mistake in its objective--to protect the vulnerable against debilitating addiction. Instead, the mistake in its means. We should treat addiction like a disease, with compassion and support.

I therefore support the legalization of marijuana--not because I want my children to use that drug, but because I recognize the limits of government's power in a free society. I would also press the federal government to develop plans to decriminalize other controlled substances--at least when it is clear that the cost of prohibition exceeds any benefit to society

Click for Lawrence Lessig on other issues.   Source: 2016 presidential campaign website, `Issues`

Ben Carson on Drugs : Oct 28, 2015
Exposure to marijuana results in decreased IQ

Carson has said he's a fan of the war on drugs, and he told "The Blaze" he would "intensify it." He also supports medical marijuana "in compassionate cases." At a June campaign event in Colorado, he noted that "regular exposure to marijuana in the developing brain has been proven to result in a decreased IQ. The last thing we need is a bunch of people running around with decreased IQ." Therefore, he says, he'd enforce federal drug laws in which the use of marijuana is considered a crime.
Click for Ben Carson on other issues.   Source: Mother Jones 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Carly Fiorina on Drugs : Oct 28, 2015
Marijuana laws should be left to the states

Boulder Colorado may be hosting the third 2016 GOP presidential debate, but not all candidates on stage are publicly sold on one major issue in Colorado: legalized pot.

Sen. Rand Paul has long been a vocal supporter of the issue being left to the states, as opposed to strictly enforcing federal law, and he's spoken favorably of cases involving medical marijuana.

While other candidates might voice tempered acknowledgement of recreational pot, they also point out other issues where a hard line against drugs should be held. "The marijuana that kids are smoking today is not the same as the marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago," businesswoman Carly Fiorina said during the last debate. Fiorina also said marijuana should be left to the states but, like Bush, has emphasized the need to tackle the drug issue of heroin overdoses while on the campaign trail in areas like New Hampshire.

Click for Carly Fiorina on other issues.   Source: The Hill weblog on 2015 Republican two-tier debate on CNN

Carly Fiorina on Drugs : Oct 28, 2015
I don't support legal pot, but I support states' pot choice

Fiorina has come out against marijuana legalization under all circumstances, but she also supports states' rights. "I don't support legalized marijuana for a whole host of reasons, including the fact that this is a very complex chemical substance, and when we tell young people it is just like drinking a beer, we are not telling them the truth," she told the Hill in June. "But I think Colorado voters made a choice, I don't support their choice, but I do support their right to make that choice."
Click for Carly Fiorina on other issues.   Source: Mother Jones 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Ben Carson on Drugs : Oct 23, 2015
Intensify the War on Drugs at federal level

Ben Carson told Glenn Beck this week that he wants to "intensify" the so-called War on Drugs. The exchange came during a series of rapid-fire questions.

When Beck asked Carson if he wanted to continue the War on Drugs, Carson responded, "Absolutely." A slightly confused Beck clarified "You do?" And Carson replied confidently, "I would intensify it."

After his initial answer, Beck pressed the retired neurosurgeon on his enthusiasm for the War on Drugs. "Let me ask you a question," Beck said, pausing to figure out his next words. "How -- I mean, it doesn't seem to be working now."

Again, Carson appeared steady. "Yeah well, go down to the border in Arizona like I was a few weeks ago. I mean, it's an open highway, and the federal government isn't doing anything to stop it," Carson said. Beck then asked if Carson would legalize marijuana and Carson said, "I disagree with it."

Click for Ben Carson on other issues.   Source: International Business Times on 2016 presidential hopefuls

Ben Carson on Drugs : Oct 23, 2015
Maybe medical marijuana, but recreational use is a gateway

Carson has previously called marijuana a "gateway drug" and spoken out against it: "I think medical use of marijuana in compassionate cases certainly has been proven to be useful. But recognize that marijuana is what's known as a gateway drug. It tends to be a starter drug for people who move onto heavier duty drugs--sometimes legal, sometimes illegal--and I don't think this is something that we really want for our society," Carson said in a 2014 interview with Fox News. "You know, we're gradually just removing all the barriers to hedonistic activity, and you know, it's just, we're changing so rapidly to a different type of society and nobody is getting a chance to discuss it because, you know, it's taboo. It's politically incorrect. You're not supposed to talk about these things."
Click for Ben Carson on other issues.   Source: International Business Times on 2016 presidential hopefuls

Hillary Clinton on Drugs : Oct 13, 2015
Stop imprisoning marijuana users

Q: When asked about legalizing recreational marijuana, you said let's wait and see how it plays out in Colorado and Washington. It's been more than a year since you've said that. Are you ready to take a position tonight?

CLINTON: No. I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today. I do support the use of medical marijuana, and I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we're going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief. So, I think we're just at the beginning, but I agree completely with the idea that we have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana. Therefore, we need more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this so that we don't have this terrible result of a huge population in our prisons for nonviolent, low-level offenses that are primarily due to marijuana.[1]

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas

Bernie Sanders on Drugs : Oct 13, 2015
I would vote for recreational marijuana, to reduce jailings

Q: In Nevada, there will be a measure to legalize recreational marijuana on the 2016 ballot. If you were a Nevada resident, how would you vote?

A: I would vote yes because I am seeing too many lives being destroyed for non-violent offenses. We have a criminal justice system that lets CEOs on Wall Street walk away, and yet we are imprisoning young people who are smoking marijuana. I think we have to think through this war on drugs which has done an enormous amount of damage.

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas

Carly Fiorina on Drugs : Sep 16, 2015
Drug addiction is an epidemic that takes our young people

I very much hope I am the only person on this stage who can say this, but I know there are millions of Americans out there who will say the same thing. My husband Frank and I buried a child to drug addiction. So, we must invest more in the treatment of drugs.

I agree with Senator Paul [that drug laws favor the rich over the poor]; I agree with states' rights [allowing marijuana legalization]. But we are misleading young people when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer. It's not. And the marijuana that kids are smoking today is not the same as the marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago.

We do need criminal justice reform. We have the highest incarceration rates in the world. 2/3 of the people in our prisons are there for non-violent offenses, mostly drug related. It's clearly not working. But we need to tell young people the truth. Drug addiction is an epidemic, and it is taking too many of our young people. I know this sadly from personal experience.

Click for Carly Fiorina on other issues.   Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary debate on CNN

Rand Paul on Drugs : Sep 16, 2015
More rehabilitation and less incarceration

Q [to Senator Paul]: Governor Christie recently said, "if you're getting high in Colorado today," where marijuana has been legalized, "enjoy it until January 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana." Will you?

PAUL: I think one of the great problems, and what American people don't like about politics, is hypocrisy. People have one standard for others and not for them--for themselves. The people going to jail for this are poor people, often African-Americans and often Hispanics, and yet the rich kids who use drugs aren't. I personally think that this is a crime for which the only victim is the individual, and I think that America has to take a different attitude. I would like to see more rehabilitation and less incarceration. I'm a fan of the drug courts which try to direct you back towards work and less time in jail.

CHRISTIE: N.J. says if you are non-violent, non-dealing drug user, you don't go to jail for your first offense. You go to mandatory treatment.

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary debate on CNN

Jeb Bush on Drugs : Sep 16, 2015
Opposed medical marijuana on Florida ballot question

What goes on in Colorado, as far as I'm concerned, that should be a state decision. But if you look at the problem of drugs in society today, it's a serious problem. It is appropriate for the government to play a consistent role to be able to provide more treatment, more prevention. In Florida, there are drug courts to give people a second chance. Medical marijuana on the ballot was opened up, there was a huge loophole, it was the first step. As a citizen of Florida, I voted no.
Click for Jeb Bush on other issues.   Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary debate on CNN

Rand Paul on Drugs : Sep 16, 2015
Pot laws result in poor kids going to jail & not rich kids

There is at least one prominent example of someone who says they smoked pot in high school, and yet the people going to jail for this are poor people, often African-Americans and often Hispanics, and yet the rich kids who use drugs aren't. I think the war on drugs has had a racial outcome, and really has been something that has damaged our inner cities. Not only do the drugs damage them, we damage them again by incarcerating them and then preventing them from getting employment over time.
Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary debate on CNN

Carly Fiorina on Drugs : Sep 16, 2015
Stepdaughter died of addiction; invest in treatment of drugs

There's a very real reason Carly Fiorina is against legalizing marijuana: She watched her stepdaughter, Lori Ann Fiorina, battle drug addiction and die an early death, at just 35 years old. At the CNN debate, Fiorina turned to her personal history: "My husband and I buried a child to drug addiction. We must invest in the treatment of drugs."

Fiorina first shared details about the 2009 loss of Lori in her book, "Rising to the Challenge: My Leadership Journey", which she published earlier this year. "The two police officers stood awkwardly in our living room," she writes of her and her husband's experience at the start of the book. "The police officers said our daughter was dead, 3,000 miles away. Lori couldn't--or wouldn't--take that first step of admitting she was powerless over her addiction. And ultimately her body just gave out," she writes further into the work.

Fiorina came into the lives of her two stepdaughters, Lori Ann and Tracy, when she married her husband, Frank, in 1985.

Click for Carly Fiorina on other issues.   Source: on 2015 Republican two-tier debate on CNN

Bernie Sanders on Drugs : Sep 5, 2015
War on drugs is a failed policy; treatment over punishment

Bernie believes the current prohibition of drug use, colloquially known as the "war on drugs," is a failed policy. He co-sponsored a bill to reduce recidivism, allowing incarcerated offenders access to pharmacological drug treatment. Bernie has opposed expanding the war on drugs by voting "no" both on military border patrols to battle drugs and terrorism, and on plans to subject federal employees to random drug tests. Bernie recognizes that the war on drugs has not quelled the drug-use epidemics facing the nation; he believes punishment doesn't help but treatment does.
Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: 2016 presidential campaign website, "Issues"

Bernie Sanders on Drugs : Sep 5, 2015
Decriminalize marijuana and study recreational legalization

Q: What about medical marijuana?

A: Bernie supports the medical use of marijuana and the rights of states to determine its legality. He co-sponsored the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act in 2001

Q: And recreational pot?

A: Bernie wants to learn more about the impact that recreational legalization will have in states such as Colorado in order to determine whether or not he supports it: "Vermont voted to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana and I support that. And when I was mayor of Burlington, in a city with a large population, very few people were arrested for smoking marijuana. Our police had more important things to do."

Q: Has Bernie ever inhaled?

A: Bernie has inhaled! But, he wasn't a fan, personally: "Because I coughed a lot. I smoked marijuana twice, didn't quite work for me. It's not my thing, but it is the thing of a whole lot of people."

Click for Bernie Sanders on other issues.   Source: 2016 presidential campaign website, "Issues"

Marco Rubio on Drugs : Aug 9, 2015
Medical marijuana could be OK, but not recreational use

Q: How do you feel about state legalization of marijuana?

RUBIO: Well, I've said that I'm open to medicinal uses of anything, and particularly marijuana. And if, in fact, it goes through the FDA process and you can come up with a proven medicinal benefit to that substance, I'm open to that. I'm not in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, and I never have been.

Q: Would you then use the federal government to supersede the laws of states that have legalized?

RUBIO: Well, federal government needs to enforce federal law.

Q: You would enforce the law?

RUBIO: Absolutely. I believe the federal government needs to enforce federal law.

Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Marco Rubio on Drugs : May 9, 2015
No responsible way to recreationally use marijuana

Rubio believes there is "no responsible way to recreationally use" marijuana, saying he thinks legalization of the substance would be "bad for the country."

In an interview, Rubio was asked whether he had ever smoked pot: "Here's the problem with that question in American politics: If you say that you did and suddenly there are people out there saying 'Well, it's not a big deal. Look at all these successful people who did it,'" Rubio said. "I don't want my kids to smoke marijuana. And I don't want other people's kids to smoke marijuana. I don't believe there's a responsible way to recreationally use marijuana."

He continued: "On the other side of it, if you tell people you didn't they won't believe you. The bottom line is, I don't think people should smoke marijuana." The senator has previously dodged the pot question, saying his own experience is "irrelevant" to drug policy.

Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: Huffington Post 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Ted Cruz on Drugs : Mar 5, 2015
2014: federal enforcement; 2015: let states experiment

At CPAC last week, Ted Cruz responded to a question about marijuana legalization in Colorado by endorsing a federalist approach: "This is a great embodiment of what Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis called 'the laboratories of democracy,'" Cruz said. "If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that's their prerogative. I personally don't agree with it, but that's their right."

Those remarks contradict Cruz's previous position, when he criticized the Obama administration for failing to aggressively enforce the federal ban on marijuana in states that have legalized the drug. In January 2014, he described the Justice Department's prosecutorial restraint, which is designed to respect state policy choices, as an abuse of executive power.

Cruz's apparent turnaround reflects a political reality: Cruz's calibration is the easiest way to strike the balance between younger, more tolerant GOP voters and social conservatives.

Click for Ted Cruz on other issues.   Source: Forbes Magazine on 2015 Conservative Political Action Conf.

Ted Cruz on Drugs : Feb 27, 2015
I disagree with states legalizing pot, but it's their right

Just a year ago, Ted Cruz criticized Pres. Obama for allowing Colorado and Washington to legalize marijuana for recreational purposes. Now, he's basically in favor of the same approach: "If the citizens of Colorado decide they want to go down that road, that's their prerogative," he said a the CPAC Conference. "I personally don't agree with it, but that's their right."

The conference is a chance for potential presidential candidates to stake out ground for 2016 and marijuana could be prime turf. Cruz has expressed openness to changing marijuana laws in the past. At a January 2014 event in Texas, he said there are "some reasonable arguments on that issue." But he also blasted the president for ignoring federal drug laws and allowing residents in Colorado and Washington to carry out their marijuana policies. "Mind you these are criminal laws," Cruz said. "These are laws that say if you do 'X, Y, and Z' you will go to prison. The president announced, 'No, you won't.'"

Click for Ted Cruz on other issues.   Source: on 2015 Conservative Political Action Conf.

Scott Walker on Drugs : Feb 26, 2015
Opposes Colorado's legalization of marijuana

Walker expressed his opposition to Colorado's legalization of marijuana and his opposition to same-sex marriage. He further said he supported "the legal right for legal citizens to be able to carry and arm themselves"
Click for Scott Walker on other issues.   Source: on 2015 Conservative Political Action Conf.

Rand Paul on Drugs : Feb 26, 2015
End hypocrisy and over-criminalization of marijuana

[In a CPAC interview] Rand Paul offered backhanded advice to Jeb Bush: "Younger voters in particular don't like hypocrisy. Him saying recently down in Florida that he would still incarcerate people even for medical marijuana, and then it turns out--him basically acknowledging that he'd been using recreational marijuana as a kid. I don't think anybody faults him for youthful indiscretions. But if you look at the people who end up getting caught up in the war on drugs, they're often not elite kids at prep schools. They're poor kids with no school."

Paul said conservatives need to reach beyond traditional audiences like gun-rights defenders to anyone who has been mistreated by Big Government, including "businesses mistreated by Big Government regulations" and "poor people mistreated by Big Government and over-criminalization."

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: on 2015 Conservative Political Action Conf.

Mike Bloomberg on Drugs : Feb 9, 2015
No legalization; pot lowers IQ by 5 to 10 points

When an audience member at the Aspen Institute asked Bloomberg about Colorado marijuana, he responded that it was a terrible idea, one that is hurting the developing minds of children. Though he admitted to smoking a joint in the 1960s, he said the drug is more accessible and more damaging today: "What are we going to say in 10 years when we see all these kids whose IQs are 5 and 10 points lower than they would have been?" he asked. "I couldn't feel more strongly about it, and my girlfriend says it's no different than alcohol. It is different than alcohol. This is one of the stupider things that's happening across our country."
Click for Mike Bloomberg on other issues.   Source: Aspen Times 2015 coverage of 2016 Presidential hopefuls

Ted Cruz on Drugs : Feb 4, 2015
I foolishly smoked pot when young, but never since

Sen. Ted Cruz's team admitted the tea party Texan smoked marijuana when he was a teen -- but never since. And he's hardly the only top-ranking politico, Republican or Democrat, to confess to the drug use in recent days.

"Teenagers are often known for their lack of judgment, and Sen. Cruz was no exception," one of Mr. Cruz's campaign spokesman told The Daily Mail. "When he was a teenager, he foolishly experimented with marijuana. It was a mistake, and he's never tried it since."

Click for Ted Cruz on other issues.   Source: Washington Times 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Jeb Bush on Drugs : Feb 1, 2015
My high school drug use was "stupid" and "wrong"

[Jeb attended Phillips Andover]; in the fall of 1968, the 10th-grade students divided into cliques of "jocks, freaks, and zeros," as one classmate put it: and Bush, with his taste for marijuana and his skill at tennis, straddled the line between jock and freak, never comfortably in either group.

One of those who did get to know Bush was Peter Tibbetts, who said he smoked hashish--a cannabis product typically stronger than pot--in Jeb's dorm room. "The first time I really got stoned was in Jeb's room," Tibbetts said. "He had a portable stereo with removable speakers. He put on Steppenwolf for me." Tibbetts said said he once bought hashish from Bush but stressed, "I was seeking the hash, it wasn't as if he was a dealer; though he did suggest I take up cigarettes so that I could hold my hits better."

Bush previously has acknowledged what he called his "stupid" and "wrong" use of marijuana. In the years since, he has opposed efforts to legalize marijuana for medicinal or recreational use.

Click for Jeb Bush on other issues.   Source: Boston Globe profiles of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Jeb Bush on Homeland Security : Jan 1, 2015
Issues where Rand Paul disagrees with Jeb Bush

Where do Jeb Bush & Rand Paul disagree on the issues? They do agree on many issues, but they disagree on the core libertarian-versus-centrist list:
For state-run conservation
IssueJeb BushRand Paul
EnvironmentOpposes EPA strongly
Campaign Finance ReformOpposes donation limitsRestrict lobbyists
Drug policyNo medical marijuana Legalize hemp & marijuana
Crime & PunishmentTough on crimeFocus on rights of the accused
Foreign policyStrength-based engagementNon-interventionism
Mideast policy Focus on Iran & othersStay out
Cuba policyStrengthen embargoEnd embargo
Defense spendingIncrease budgetAudit the Pentagon
Click for Jeb Bush on other issues.   Source: Jeb Bush vs. Rand Paul On The Issues, by Jesse Gordon

Rand Paul on Drugs : Nov 2, 2014
Jailing people for 10 years for marijuana is ridiculous

Q: Tell me a couple of things that Republicans and Democrats could work together on.

PAUL: One of the things I have talked to the president about is criminal justice reform. This means extending back the right to vote for people who made youthful nonviolent mistakes, expunging their records, trying to make it easier for them to find employment. I think put somebody in jail for 10 years for possession of marijuana or sale of marijuana is ridiculous. Some people are in jail for life. So, I have called the president, and I have told him, I agree with commuting some of these sentences, lessening some of these sentences, treating it more as a health issue. So, I think people's opinions on criminal justice for nonviolent drug crimes has changed. That is something we could do together.

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: Face the Nation 2014 interview: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Jeb Bush on Drugs : Aug 14, 2014
No medical marijuana; it's just a guise toward legalization

Jeb Bush is siding with opponents of an initiative on Florida's November election ballot to make medical marijuana legal, despite strong public support for its use as a treatment for debilitating illnesses.

Bush issued a statement saying the legalization of medical marijuana would hurt the state's family-friendly reputation: "Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire," Bush said. "Allowing large-scale, marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts," he added. "I strongly urge Floridians to vote against Amendment 2 this November," he said.

20 states and the District of Columbia have some form of laws that permit the use of marijuana for medicinal purposes, though they vary widely.

Click for Jeb Bush on other issues.   Source: David Adams on Reuters: "Jeb Bush joins opposition"

Hillary Clinton on Drugs : Jul 31, 2014
Medical marijuana now; wait-and-see on recreational pot

When CNN hosted a town hall with Clinton last month, interviewer Christiane Amanpour asked her about marijuana. Clinton said she was "committing radical candor" in her answer, a reference to the newfound freedom she said she was enjoying. Clinton said it should be available medicinally for people with "extreme conditions" and that she wants to "wait and see" the evidence in states legalizing it for recreational use before taking a position.
Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source:, "Clinton Book Tour"

Rand Paul on Drugs : Jul 24, 2014
Whites & blacks use drugs, but prisons are full of blacks

In the past two months, Paul has introduced a series of bills designed to reform the criminal justice system. The bills would abolish mandatory minimum sentences, restore voting rights to some convicted felons, help people expunge their criminal records and downgrade some felonies to misdemeanors. All of Paul's proposals would benefit minorities that Paul said have been impacted by the "war on drugs." Paul said, "Even though whites used drugs at the same rate as black kids, the prisons are full of black kids and brown kids. There are Republicans trying to correct this injustice."

In February, Paul pressed Republicans in the Kentucky Senate to pass a bill that would restore voting rights to some convicted felons. It ultimately failed.

Paul plans to talk about those issues in a speech Friday at the National Urban League's annual conference in Cincinnati. He said his ideas have been well received in minority communities because "people are ready for something to happen."

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: Washington Times 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Rand Paul on Crime : Jun 22, 2014
Let convicted felons regain the right to vote

Q: You said last year "If I told you that one out of three African-American males is forbidden by law from voting, you might think I was talking about Jim Crow 50 years ago. Yet today, a third of African-American males are still prevented from voting because of the war on drugs."

PAUL: It's the biggest voting rights issue of our day. There may be a million people who are being prevented from voting from having a previous felony conviction. I'll give you an example: I have a friend who, 30 years ago, grew marijuana plants in college. He made a mistake. He still can't vote, and every time he goes to get a job he has to tick a box that says convicted felon. It prevents you from employment. We should be for letting people have the right to vote back, and I think the face of the Republican Party needs to be not about suppressing the vote, but about enhancing the vote. My bill would allow somewhere a million people to get the right to vote back.

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: Meet the Press 2014 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Hillary Clinton on Drugs : Jun 14, 2014
Medical marijuana maybe ok; states decide recreational use

[This week], New York lawmakers approved legislation that would make it the 23rd state in the country to permit medical marijuana use, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. Voters in Alaska and possibly Oregon will decide in November whether to join Colorado and Washington in allowing the sale of marijuana for recreational use.

As the momentum behind marijuana legalization grows, the issue is becoming inescapable for potential presidential contenders in 2016. The latest to weigh in was Hillary Clinton, who was asked about marijuana last week during her book tour. She seemed slightly more open to medical marijuana than she was during the 2008 campaign, saying it was appropriate in limited cases, but that more research was necessary.

"On recreational, you know, states are the laboratories of democracy," Mrs. Clinton told CNN interviewer Christiane Amanpour. "We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is."

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Beth Reinhard in Wall Street Journal, "Third Way"

Marco Rubio on Drugs : May 19, 2014
Enforce federal laws even where states have legalized pot

While Rubio is mum about his own past regarding marijuana, he has strong feelings about marijuana legalization and is at odds with President Obama's handling of the issue. The sale and trafficking of marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but the Obama administration has decided not to enforce all aspects of the federal law in some states, including Colorado and Oregon, where the sale and use of recreational marijuana has been legalized under state law. Rubio said the federal law should be enforced in those states. "When something is legal, implicitly, what you're saying [is] it can't be all that bad, because if it's legal, it can't be bad for you," Rubio said. "And the bottom line is, I believe that adding yet another mind-altering substance to something that's legal is not good for the country. I understand there are people that have different views on it, but I feel strongly about that."
Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: Yahoo blog 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Marco Rubio on Drugs : May 19, 2014
There is no responsible way to recreationally use marijuana

Why won't Rubio say whether he's ever smoked pot? Rubio, who maintains a strict stance against the legalization of marijuana, refuses to answer whether he's ever personally smoked it. Rubio told "Politics Confidential" that his silence on the matter is based on his belief that there is no "responsible way to recreationally use marijuana."

"If you say that you did, then suddenly there are people out there saying, 'Well, it's not a big deal,'" Rubio said. "On the other side of it is if you tell people that you didn't, they won't believe you." Rubio explained that his decision not to answer the question goes back to an encounter he had after publishing his memoir, "American Son." In the book, Rubio reveals that he was not a disciplined student in his youth and had a 2.1 GPA in high school. "Someone came up to me and said, 'You My son said he doesn't have to get good grades in high school, because look at Marco Rubio, he didn't do well in high school,'" Rubio recalled, "and that impacted me."

Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: Yahoo blog 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Marco Rubio on Drugs : May 9, 2014
Enforce federal law even in states with legal pot

Rubio discussed the legalization of recreational pot in Colorado and Washington: "Marijuana is illegal under federal law. That should be enforced," he said. "I believe that adding yet another mind-altering substance to something that's legal is not good for the country."

Rubio, however, has previously left the door open on medical pot, which will come up for a vote in his home state this November. "You hear compelling stories of people who say the use of medical marijuana provides relief for the thing they are suffering," Rubio said in a January interview. "So I'd like to learn more about that aspect of it, the science of it."

Click for Marco Rubio on other issues.   Source: Huffington Post 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Martin O`Malley on Crime : May 3, 2014
I reduced both violent crime and incarceration rates

O'MALLEY: In Maryland, we actually were able to reduce our incarceration rate to 20-year lows. We were able to reduce our recidivism by 15%. And we also, at the same time, reduced violent crime down to 35-year lows. I signed legislation to decriminalize, in essence, marijuana possession and other minor charges. I signed legislation to restore voting rights. We are getting smarter and better every day at this, but we still have a lot of work to do.
Click for Martin O`Malley on other issues.   Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls

Jerry Brown on Drugs : Mar 2, 2014
How many people can get stoned and still have a great state?

The host of NBC's "Meet the Press" asked Brown about the possibility of legalized recreational marijuana use in California. Brown responded that he was watching Colorado and Washington--the two states currently have legalized recreational marijuana use-- and that California's medical marijuana policies were "very close" to what these states are doing. "I'd really like those two states to show us how it's going to work," he said.

He also expressed worry about the "tendency to go to extremes." After legalization, he said, "if there's advertising and legitimacy, how many people can get stoned and still have a great state or a great nation? The world's pretty dangerous, very competitive. I think we need to stay alert, if not 24 hours a day, more than some of the potheads might be able to put together."

California became the first state to legalize medical marijuana use in 1996, when 56 percent of voters approved Proposition 215.

Click for Jerry Brown on other issues.   Source: Washington Post on 2014 California governor race

Bobby Jindal on Drugs : Feb 2, 2014
We lock up too many people for casual drug use

Q: Is it time to look at the laws in your state for use of small amounts of marijuana and maybe crank down those punishments?

JINDAL: Sure--we've started not just last year, but since I've been governor. And last year, we accelerated that--looking to lower those penalties. I agree with the president that we lock up too many people for casual drug use. What I mean by that is that non-violent, non-repeat offenders, those that aren't committing other crimes, we should look at treatment and rehabilitation. I'm not for the legalization. The full legalization of marijuana has been done in Colorado. But certainly, I think that it makes sense. We could use our resources more effectively. We passed some pretty good laws last year. There's more work that we can do there. I do think when it comes to medical marijuana, I've said that I'm open if it's tightly regulated, for legitimate medical purposes. We don't need to be locking up people who aren't the dealers, who aren't committing other crimes

Click for Bobby Jindal on other issues.   Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Martin O`Malley on Drugs : Jan 12, 2014
Proportionality in marijuana arrests, but not legalization

Q: You've said that you're opposed to the legalization of marijuana for recreational use. Why?

O'MALLEY: I'm opposed to it for a number of reasons. In our state, I actually have signed legislation that allows police officers to issue citations instead of arrests. We've made a mandatory stay and a right of appeal to anybody that's subjected to any sort of incarceration. So I think there is something to be said for the proportionality. And I do think that all of that is important. There are fewer people incarcerated in Maryland today than when I was elected. But for a number of reasons--one of them is purely economic. In our state, a lot of the new opportunities that are opening up for our kids in security and cyber security and other things, they require a background check and they require that kids have clean records--

Q: But if you legalized it, there wouldn't be a record.

O'MALLEY: Yes, but we can't do that as a state. That would be something only the nation could do.

Click for Martin O`Malley on other issues.   Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Martin O`Malley on Drugs : Jan 12, 2014
Let Colorado experiment with legalization, not Maryland

Q: Would you legalize marijuana in Maryland?

O'MALLEY: We can't do that as a state. That would be something only the nation could do.

Q: Well, Colorado has legalized--

O'MALLEY: Yes, Colorado has. And for Colorado perhaps that's a good choice and perhaps there's things we can learn from their experiment as a laboratory in democracy. From Maryland's standpoint, I spend a lot of time in middle schools telling kids to keep a clean record so that they can get a good job and help their families.

Click for Martin O`Malley on other issues.   Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Ben Carson on Drugs : Jan 2, 2014
Marijuana for medical use, but not for recreational use

Medical use of marijuana in compassionate cases has been proven to be useful, but recognize that marijuana is what is known as a gateway drug-- a starter for people who move on to heavier duty drugs. I don't think this is something we really want for our society.
Click for Ben Carson on other issues.   Source: Fox News Politics: "Ramifications of legal marijuana"

Jerry Brown on Drugs : Oct 16, 2013
Vetoed prosecutor discretion on drugs; keep it a felony

Gov. Brown vetoed SB649, which would have given prosecutors discretion in charging suspects arrested of drug possession with a misdemeanor rather than a felony. In vetoing the modest reform, Brown rejected an opportunity to alleviate overcrowded prisons and jails.

Presently, prosecutors must charge individuals arrested for possession of certain drugs, such as heroin or cocaine, with felonies. Under current California law, possession of less than an ounce of marijuana is an infraction and possession of methamphetamine is currently eligible for a misdemeanor charge. Senate Bill 649, then, would have merely extended the option to possession of other substances, such as heroin and cocaine, and would not have gone so far as California has with marijuana.

The veto comes as California scrambles to figure out how to meet a Jan. 2014 deadline to reduce overcrowding in the state prison system. In 2010, California was ordered to reduce the prison population from 150,000 to 110,000.

Click for Jerry Brown on other issues.   Source: Reason Magazine on 2014 California governor's race

Rand Paul on Drugs : Mar 24, 2013
Don't promote marijuana but don't jail non-violent criminals

Q: You would like to relax some of the laws for people who possess and are smoking marijuana, and synthetic recreational drugs. Why?

PAUL: The main thing I've said is not to legalize them but not to incarcerate people for extended periods of time. With Senator Leahy, we have a bill on mandatory minimums. There are people in jail for 50 years for nonviolent crimes. And that's a huge mistake. Our prisons are full of nonviolent criminals. I don't want to encourage people to do it. Marijuana takes away your incentive to work. I don't want to promote that but I also don't want to put people in jail who make the mistake. There are a lot of young people who do this and then later on, they get married and they quit; I don't want to put them in jail and ruin their lives. The last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use, and it would have ruined their lives. They got lucky, but a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don't get lucky.

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: Fox News Sunday 2013 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls

Andrew Cuomo on Crime : Jan 9, 2013
End "stop and frisk"; it stigmatizes young black males

We are one New York, and as one New York we will not tolerate discrimination. There is a challenge posed by the "stop and frisk" police policies. Roughly 50,000 arrests in New York City for marijuana possession, more than any other possession. Of those 50,000 arrests, 82% are black and Hispanic. Of the 82% that are black and Hispanic, 69% are under the age of 30 years old. These are young, predominately black and Hispanic males. These arrests stigmatize, they criminalize, they create a permanent record. It's not fair. It's not right. It must end. And it must end now. The problem is the disconnect because marijuana on a person is a violation, marijuana in public view is a misdemeanor. There must be parity. Decriminalize the public view with 15 grams or less so there is fairness and parity in the system and we stop stigmatizing these people, making it harder to find a job, making it harder to get into to school, making it harder to turn their lives around at a very young age.
Click for Andrew Cuomo on other issues.   Source: 2013 State of the State Speech to NY Legislature

Andrew Cuomo on Drugs : Jan 9, 2013
Criminalize synthetic marijuana and designer drugs

A 2012 Order for Summary Action effectively banning the sale of bath salts and synthetic marijuana in New York State. Known as "designer drugs," because they are synthetically manufactured compounds chemically similar to naturally occurring narcotics and hallucinogens, bath salts and synthetic marijuana can be extremely dangerous substances linked to poisoning, accidental death and suicide. [The state] outlawed the manufacture, distribution, sale and possession of bath salts and synthetic marijuana. This made law enforcement part of the solution, even if manufacturers make alterations to the drug's chemical structure.

We must make designer drugs like bath salts & synthetic marijuana Schedule I drugs--on par with heroin, LSD, marijuana, & ecstasy. Therefore, Governor Cuomo will propose legislation to criminalize the sale and possession of these substances, and ensure our laws give us the flexibility to immediately tackle the next iteration of designer drugs so not a single life is lost.

Click for Andrew Cuomo on other issues.   Source: NY Rising 2013 State of the State booklet

Roseanne Barr on Drugs : Oct 4, 2012
Re-write drug laws to be sane and people based

Q: Legalization of marijuana is a subject you care very strongly about. On your presidential website, you mention re-writing the laws to be "sane and people based". What exactly does that mean and why is this issue so important to you?

A: The jury is NOT out, anymore; Listen, demonizing Weed is just plain bad policy. We're criminalizing our own people, wasting billions of dollars and eroding our freedom with the endless, destructive "War on drugs," but, specifically, the part focused on persecuting and prosecuting people who use Marijuana. We destroy our own credibility by allowing cigarettes and alcohol to be sold everywhere while hypocritically pretending we're all about protecting people. I could go on all day, so don't get me started. The facts are everywhere and they're incontrovertible. We've had twenty years of Presidents who smoked pot and it didn't stop them from becoming President.

Click for Roseanne Barr on other issues.   Source: Shalom Life (Jewish Toronto News) interview

Roseanne Barr on Drugs : Sep 24, 2012
Legalize medical Marijuana

Q: Do you support or oppose the statement, "Drug use is immoral: enforce laws against it"?

Q: Strongly Oppose; Legalize medical Marijuana

Click for Roseanne Barr on other issues.   Source: Email interview on presidential race with

Mitt Romney on Drugs : Sep 19, 2012
We share cross-border drug problem with Mexico

Q: Mexico's President-elect will inherit a drug war that has taken more than 65,000 lives in the past 6 years. Would you ask him to continue with the same strategy, or change the strategy to avoid more deaths?

A: I'd tell him that this is a problem that we share, that this is not Mexico's problem. We have a responsibility in this country to reduce drug usage. The fact that there is a drug world, narco-crime and terrorism, and that these cartels are terrorizing the people of Mexico, and some of that violence spills over our border. That's due to the demand here in this country. And so the US must make a priority of helping reduce demand in this country, and communicating to our young people, and older people, that when they use these illegal drugs, they are contributing to the deaths of people around the world. So I'm going to make that a priority. That's #1. And #2, I'm going to let him know that we want to help, as we did in Colombia with intelligence work and surveillance work.

Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Obama-Romney interviews by Univision Noticias (Spanish News)

Roseanne Barr on Drugs : Aug 31, 2012
End all Drug Wars; stop monopoly of subsidized prisons

The legalization of marijuana is the way to end all Drug Wars and stop the monopoly of the subsidized prison systems. Our government and corporations are getting paid every time someone goes to prison for non-violent crimes due to marijuana arrests. Drug laws need to be rewritten to make them sane and people based. We need to end the prohibition on marijuana and legalize it.
Click for Roseanne Barr on other issues.   Source: 2012 Presidential Campaign website

Barack Obama on Crime : Aug 27, 2012
FactCheck:Biden more conservative than Obama on crime issues

Vice President Biden does not agree with President Obama on all issues--their differences are especially stark on crime and punishment issues. Biden supports the death penalty while Obama opposes it; Biden supports the War on Drugs while Obama opposes that too. You can read about all of their differences (and their agreements) in side-by-side form our summary of our book:
Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Paperback: Obama-Biden vs. Romney-Ryan On The Issues

Paul Ryan on Drugs : Aug 13, 2012
Speechwriter for Director of National Drug Control Policy

It appears Paul Ryan has done an excellent job of not going on the record talking about the war on drugs or cannabis reform. Let's look at what we do know about Paul Ryan's background, voting records and stances:
Click for Paul Ryan on other issues.   Source:, "Perfect Partner in Prohibition"

Gary Johnson on Drugs : Aug 1, 2012
People 95% positive on legalizing; incumbents 100% negative

In 1999, I became the highest-ranking elected official in the US to advocate the legalization of marijuana. I realize this is not a politically popular view.

The responses I got in the governor's office--calls, letters, faxes, emails, people talking to me on the street--to my position on marijuana were about 95% positive.

The reaction from elected officials, on the other hand, at least officially, was 100% negative. But I have been approached by some elected officials who've said, "Way to go. This needed to be said. Your position is right, but I can't say that in public." I'm willing to risk my political future to educate people and bridge the divide.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 33-34

Gary Johnson on Drugs : Aug 1, 2012
Marijuana is safer than alcohol

The myth is that people using drugs are degenerates. The truth is that most marijuana smokers are people we associate with every day--law abiding, tax-paying, productive citizens.

Bad personal decisions should not be criminal if they don't harm anyone else. It is and should always be illegal to drive while you're impaired or to commit crimes. But people will always use drugs. We can't change that. Our real focus should be on reducing death, disease, crime and corruption. These problems are all related to drug prohibition, not drug use. But what I've found is that most people base their position on this issue on emotion instead of facts. The truth is that marijuana is safer than alcohol. I'll be the first to tell you that the world would be a better place if no one drank or did drugs. But that will never be the case.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Seven Principles, by Gary Johnson, p. 73-74

Andrew Cuomo on Drugs : Jun 4, 2012
Decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana

Andrew Cuomo is asking state legislators to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana that are in public view. Saying the aim was to avoid unnecessary misdemeanor charges against thousands of New Yorkers--"disproportionately black and Hispanic youth," according to a statement from the governor's office--the legislation "brings consistency and fairness" to New York's marijuana laws.

"There is a blatant inconsistency. If you possess marijuana privately it is a violation, if you show it in public it's a crime. It's incongruous. It's inconsistent the way it has been enforced," Cuomo told reporters at a press conference in Albany on Monday.

Click for Andrew Cuomo on other issues.   Source: "Decriminalize Possession"

Elizabeth Warren on Drugs : Apr 10, 2012
Opposes the outright legalization of marijuana

Sen. Scott Brown and his chief Democratic rival Elizabeth Warren are both declining to say whether they support or oppose a ballot question that would legalize the medical use of marijuana in Massachusetts. Brown said Tuesday he'd like to learn more about the proposal before taking a position on it. The Massachusetts Republican described the ballot question as "a state issue." Warren also declined to stake out a position.

Warren said Monday she looked forward to a public hearing on the ballot question. Warren said she opposes the outright legalization of marijuana.

The Legislature's Committee on Public Health held a hearing Tuesday on the question that would allow patients with debilitating medical conditions such as cancer, AIDS and multiple sclerosis to get permission from their doctors to use marijuana.

Click for Elizabeth Warren on other issues.   Source: Boston Globe, "Pot Question"

Gary Johnson on Drugs : Jun 15, 2011
75% of border violence with Mexico is due to drugs

Q: You were a border-state governor...?

A: We should make it as easy as possible to be able to get a legal work visa--not citizenship, not a green card. And then legalize marijuana. 75% of the border violence with Mexico would go away--that's the estimate of the drug cartels' activities that are engaged in the trade of marijuana. We've had 28,000 deaths south of the border over the last four years. If we can't connect the dots between prohibition and violence, I don't know if we ever will.

Q: Is border violence the main reason you're for liberalizing drug laws?

A: I'm opposed to drug war A through Z. Half--half!--of what we spend on law enforcement, the courts, and the prisons, is drug-related. And to what end? We have the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. "America, land of liberty and freedom?" You know, that's baloney. More than 2 million Americans are behind bars now. Communist China has 4 times the population and they have 1.5 million people behind bars.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone Magazine

Gary Johnson on Drugs : Jun 15, 2011
Marijuana is safer than alcohol

Q: Talk to me about your personal marijuana use. Why have you been so upfront about it?

A: I don't smoke pot today. I don't drink alcohol. But I've done both of them and I can speak with authority over the fact that there's a big difference between marijuana and alcohol. And the difference is that marijuana is a lot safer.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone Magazine

Gary Johnson on Principles & Values : Jun 15, 2011
Calls himself classical liberal; others prefer libertarian

Johnson calls himself a "classical liberal," though others might prefer "libertarian." He favors legalizing marijuana (he says he toked up as recently as 2008) and prostitution and supports a woman's right to choose, liberal immigration reform and an anti-war foreign policy--even as he's called for draconian spending cuts and for dropping the corporate tax rate to zero as a means to jumpstart jobs creation.
Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Tim Dickinson in Rolling Stone Magazine

Gary Johnson on Drugs : May 27, 2011
Legalize marijuana instead of 1.8 million arrests and $70B

Q: What about legalizing drugs?

A: Legalizing marijuana, talking about harm reduction strategies regarding all the other drugs, so talking about legalizing marijuana. I came at this issue from a cost-benefit analysis standpoint. I'm not telling you anything that you don't recognize. Half of what we spend on law enforcement, the courts and prisons is drug-related and to what end? Well, $70 billion a year. We're arresting 1.8 million people a year in this country. We now have 2.3 million people behind bars. We have the highest incarceration rate of any person in the world, America.

Q: What do you do when people are in a crack-induced state of psychosis?

A: There's an educational process in all this. But you treat it first as a health issue, rather than a criminal justice issue. You don't treat it first as a criminal justice issue. Let's differentiate between marijuana though and harder drugs. What I'm advocating is the legalization of marijuana.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Sean Hannity 2012 presidential interviews "Hannity Primary"

Gary Johnson on Drugs : May 5, 2011
Harm-reduction: health issue rather than criminal issue

Q: You say we should tax and legalize marijuana. How far would you go in legalizing drugs?

A: As governor of New Mexico, everything was a cost-benefit analysis. Using that as a criteria: half of what we spend on law enforcement, the courts, and the prisons is drug-related. And to what end? We're arresting 1.8 million people a year in this country. We now have 2.3 million people behind bars. We have the highest incarceration rate of any country in the world. If people look at it, they'll see that 90% of the drug problem is prohibition-related, not use-related. That's not to discount the problems with use and abuse, but that ought to be the focus. I advocate legalizing marijuana: control it; regulate it; and tax it. It'll never be legal for kids to smoke pot or buy pot; It'll never be legal to do harm while smoking pot. When it comes to all other drugs, I advocate harm-reduction strategies, which is looking at the drug problem first as a health issue rather than as a criminal justice issue.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in South Carolina

Gary Johnson on Drugs : May 2, 2011
Drug policy today parallels Prohibition in the 1920's

The parallels between drug policy today and Prohibition in the 1920's are obvious, as are the lessons our nation learned. Prohibition was repealed because it made matters worse. Today, no one is trying to sell our kids bathtub gin in the schoolyard and micro-breweries aren't protecting their turf with machine guns. It's time to apply that thinking to marijuana. By making it a legal, regulated product, availability can be restricted, under-age use curtailed, enforcement/court/incarceration costs reduced and the profit removed from a massive underground and criminal economy.

By managing marijuana like alcohol and tobacco--regulating, taxing and enforcing its lawful use--America will be better off. Alcohol Prohibition (1920-1933) had only a minimal effect on the desire of Americans to drink but pushing alcohol underground had other effects: overdose deaths, gang violence, and other prohibition-related harms increased dramatically during the Prohibition years.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Presidential campaign website,, "Issues"

Jon Huntsman on Drugs : Apr 20, 2011
Never smoked pot; never legalized it in Utah

In honor of 4/20, here's a quick guide to where the GOP's 2012 contenders stand on pot: In 1978, Jon Huntsman dropped out of high school to play in a prog rock band called "Wizard." As Politico noted, two of his bandmates were "very active in drugs," but Huntsman, who is Mormon, never joined in, and a friend says he "never saw him inhale." Medical marijuana is not legal in Utah, where Huntsman was governor for four years.
Click for Jon Huntsman on other issues.   Source: Tim Murphy in Mother Jones magazine

Donald Trump on Drugs : Apr 20, 2011
Legalize drugs and use tax revenue to fund drug education

Trump argued in 1990 that the only way to win the War on Drugs was to legalize drugs and use the tax revenue to fund drug education programs. As he put it, "You have to take the profit away from these drug czars." In his 2000 book, The America We Deserve, he stated that he'd never tried drugs "of any kind."
Click for Donald Trump on other issues.   Source: Tim Murphy in Mother Jones magazine

Mitt Romney on Drugs : Apr 20, 2011
Opposes legalization of recreational or medical marijuana

The former Massachusetts governor opposes the legalization of recreational or medical marijuana, although he endorsed the use of synthetic pot. In his most recent book, No Apology, he attributes the legalization movement to "the passion and zeal of those members of the pleasure-seeking generation that never grew up."
Click for Mitt Romney on other issues.   Source: Tim Murphy in Mother Jones magazine

Newt Gingrich on Drugs : Apr 20, 2011
Marijuana legalization would tear America apart

Gingrich now says that pot legalization would tear America apart: "Every place drugs are legalized the net effect is more people on welfare, more people who are dependent, more people with bad health care outcomes, fewer people who are able workers able to pay attention on the job and a drain of money into illegality, because immediately behind legalized marijuana comes cocaine and heroin."
Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: Tim Murphy in Mother Jones magazine

Rick Perry on Drugs : Feb 8, 2011
Fight cross-border violence as part of drug war

We should continue our investment in border security because the threat of cross-border violence has only grown, as the drug wars escalate. I don't raise the issue of border security as a criticism of our neighbors to the south, but to show our resolve and unity in the struggle, as they deal with a wave of violence unlike anything outside of the world's war zones.
Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: 2011 Texas State of the State Address

Rick Perry on Drugs : Nov 15, 2010
Medical marijuana OK for California, but not Texas

[On states' rights], there's a movement I disagree with, while appreciating the desire of Californians to decide for themselves--this is the issue of marijuana consumption. A few years ago Californians legalized the limited medicinal use of marijuana, but the Supreme Court struck this law down in Gonzalez v. Raich, claiming that the federal government has the power to regulate activity that would have a substantial effect on interstate commerce. Now, I am not sure the people of Texas would want to go down this road.

Keeping in mind that in 2008, less than 1% of the 847,000 marijuana-related arrests were carried out by federal law enforcement, it sure seems unlikely that there could be adequate resources at the federal level to actually tell California how to live their lives. In other words, Californians may well be telling the federal government to "bring it on," we'll handle this how we want to handle it.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: Fed Up!, by Gov. Rick Perry, p.164-165

Rand Paul on Principles & Values : Oct 18, 2010
I'm "a pro-life Christian"; denies worshiping "Aqua Buddha"

Conway's campaign asks in a new statewide ad, "Why did Rand Paul once tie a woman up, tell her to bow down before a false idol & say his god was Aqua Buddha?" The latter claim refers to a charge made in the GQ article by an unnamed college swim teammate, who said Paul and another student also tried to force her to smoke marijuana. The episode reportedly occurred in 1983.

Paul has called the claim "ridiculous" and said he was "never involved with kidnapping." During a Saturday debate, Conway repeated the allegation against Paul--triggering one of the angriest exchanges of the 2010 campaign season. "You know, Jack, you know how we tell when you're lying? It's when your lips are moving. OK?" Paul sputtered. "You're going to stand over there and accuse me of a crime for 30 years ago from some anonymous source?" He added: "Jack, have you no decency? Have you no shame?"

Paul describes himself as a "pro-life Christian" and says his faith is "something very personal to me, my wife, my kids."

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: National Post coverage of 2010 Kentucky Senate debate

Joe Biden on Drugs : Oct 5, 2010
1990 crime bill: tougher penalties for drug offenders

From Judiciary, Biden responded to growing reports of police brutality on the one hand and inadequate law enforcement on the other in an era of heavy drug trafficking. Even before he became the Judiciary chairman, he had called for creation of a national drug czar to cope with the growing flood of narcotics into the American market. For years, Biden had been pushing for the creation of a drug czar, and when Ronald Reagan appointed William Bennett as his drug czar, Biden worked with him coordinating the various governmental agency budgets dealing with narcotics. And in a pending crime bill in 1990, Biden fought for tougher penalties for drug offenders, the bill was watered down by Republican opposition.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: A Life of Trial & Redemption, by Jules Witcover, p.306-307

Rand Paul on Drugs : May 20, 2010
Favors legalizing medical marijuana

How conservative is he? The 47-year-old Paul wants to abolish the federal departments of education, commerce and energy, as well as the income tax.

Like Palin, with whom Paul now stands atop the Tea Party cake, he is opposed to all government bailouts and earmarks, and President Obama's "socialist" health care law. He favors a constitutional amendment banning abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

But in a libertarian twist, he also favors legalizing medical marijuana.

Click for Rand Paul on other issues.   Source: David Saltonstall in Daily News, "New Hero of Tea Party"

Jesse Ventura on Drugs : Mar 8, 2010
Banks & prison-industrial complex gets rich on the drug war

Federal law still considers marijuana a dangerous illegal drug, although 14 states have now enacted laws allowing for some use for medical purposes.

Let me cite a few statistics that I find mind-boggling. According to NORML, an advocacy group for legalizing marijuana, more than 700,000 of America's estimated 20 million pot-smokers got arrested in 2008. About HALF of the 200,000 inmates in our federal prisons are in there for drug-related offenses. Between 1970 and 2007, we saw a 547% increase in our prison population, mainly because of our drug policies. Of course, that's just fine with the new prison-industrial complex, where corporations are now running the show. We as taxpayers shell out $68 billion every year for prisons, & a lot of that end up going into private contractors' pockets!

Of course, they're not the only ones getting rich. Well-documented federal reports lead to the conclusion that American banks are "collectively the world's largest financial beneficiary of the drug trade."

Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: American Conspiracies, by Jesse Ventura, p.114

Jesse Ventura on Drugs : Apr 1, 2008
Let states decide medical marijuana laws

Early in 2001 Bush stated that he was a strong believer in giving more power to the states, which I applaud. He was going to be, he said, an old-style Federalist president. I believed him.

Yet just about every move he's made since that day has taken power away from the states. Cases in point: 12 states have now passed laws to allow the medical use of marijuana. The federal government under Bush says no way, it won't let the states do this. 2 states have voted for dignity in death. If I'm living in MN and terminally ill, I could have the option of moving to Oregon and fulfill my wishes not to prolong the agony. Again, the Bush administration says, oh no, you can't.

Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p. 67

Jesse Ventura on Drugs : Apr 1, 2008
Treat marijuana like we treat alcohol and tobacco

I wish that Canada and Mexico would legalize marijuana, because that would put the US on an island. You'd have two countries proving, like the city of Amsterdam has, that making drugs legal is not a negative formula, but the best way to deal with the problem. Making something illegal doesn't mean it goes away, it just means criminals are going to run it.

Why not treat marijuana in the same way as alcohol or tobacco? It's so widely used, and it has medical purposes that are denied by the US Food and Drug Administration. Numerous doctors and private studies have clearly shown that medicinal marijuana is a painkiller that can help cancer and AIDS patients and can also be used to treat glaucoma.

The fact is growing hemp for industrial purposes would make it a very useful plant. It can be a fiber for clothing, a source of paper, even an alternative fuel. Canada is already using hemp this way. I simply don't see that cannabis grows wild on earth just so humans can eradicate it.

Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.189-190

Jesse Ventura on Principles & Values : Apr 1, 2008
Supports libertarianism with a small "l"

Describing himself as a libertarian with a small "I"--liberal on social issues, conservative on fiscal issues---ex-Minnesota governor Jesse Ventura today set forth an independent platform that included ending the "so-called war on drugs" by legalizing marijuana and bringing home all American troops from military bases around the world--"unless these countries want to compensate us for guarding their borders."
Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: Don`t Start the Revolution, by Jesse Ventura, p.307

Barack Obama on Drugs : Feb 2, 2008
Fight to rid our communities of meth

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: Campaign booklet, “Blueprint for Change”, p. 32-33

Jon Huntsman on Drugs : Jan 22, 2008
End Meth Now: stop the scourge

At the other end of the spectrum, we have worked like never before, at every level of government, to "End Meth Now" and stop the scourge of methamphetamine impacting our families and communities. We have more resources committed than at any other time to help fight this dangerous, destructive drug. I want my friends at the House of Hope, most of whom are young single mothers recovering from their addictions, to know the full meaning of that word: Hope.
Click for Jon Huntsman on other issues.   Source: Utah 2008 State of the State address

Mike Huckabee on Drugs : Dec 30, 2007
1999: doubled methamphetamine sentences

Q: Has Mitt Romney said anything that’s untrue about you?

A: How long do we have on the program today? He’s said many things that are untrue. He said that I reduced methamphetamine sentences in Arkansas. Truth is I signed a bill in 1999 that doubled those sentences. We did not reduce them. Our sentences were four times harsher than they were in Massachusetts. He said that I supported special breaks for illegal aliens. That’s not true. We supported simply giving children who had earned a scholarship the same--it never happened, it didn’t make the legislature. He made allegations that our increased spending by ridiculous amounts, and The New York Times came back and defended that, and said that’s just simply not true. And they took him apart and showed that the increases in spending were, frankly, the same if not a little better than his if you took into consideration the accounting methods we changed in Arkansas, very modest gains in spending.

Click for Mike Huckabee on other issues.   Source: Meet the Press: 2007 “Meet the Candidates” series

Joe Biden on Drugs : Nov 11, 2007
Took lead on drug policy & narcotics control

Biden has sought to take the lead on drug policy, spearheading creation of a “Drug Czar” and crafting laws to control narcotics--measures that are widely viewed as pretty much of a failure.
Click for Joe Biden on other issues.   Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.180

Barack Obama on Drugs : Aug 14, 2007
Experimented with cocaine but turned down heroin

The teenage years mark a period of rebellion for males, and Obama’s racial turmoil only exacerbated those natural feelings. He was always a solid B student, but by his senior year, he was slacking off in his schoolwork in favor of basketball, beach time parties. He also, as he described it later, “dabbled in drugs and alcohol.” He would buy a six-pack of Heineken after school and polish off the bottles while shooting baskets. He also smoked marijuana and experimented with snorting cocaine but demurred from heroin when he said a drug supplier seemed far too eager to have him experience it. Later, Obama noted that white kids, Hawaiian kids and wealthy kids also turn to drugs to soothe whatever causes them pain.

His grandmother recalled that she and he husband discussed Barry’s declining grades and grew concerned about his possible drug use and overall lack of direction. Obama, however, questioned his elderly grandmother’s memory, [claiming it] was a very transitory period in his life.

Click for Barack Obama on other issues.   Source: From Promise to Power, by David Mendell, p. 45-46

Sarah Palin on Drugs : Aug 6, 2006
Opposes legalizing marijuana, but meth is greater threat

What about the social issues that Alaskans, especially the party faithful who often decide primary elections, may find important? Here’s what Sarah Palin has to say about marijuana.

Palin doesn’t support legalizing marijuana, worrying about the message it would send to her four kids. But when it comes to cracking down on drugs, she says methamphetamines are the greater threat and should have a higher priority.

Click for Sarah Palin on other issues.   Source: Anchorage Daily News, “Little play,” by K. Hopkins

Sarah Palin on Drugs : Aug 6, 2006
Smoked marijuana when it was legal under Alaska law

Palin said she has smoked marijuana--remember, it was legal under state law, she said, even if illegal under U.S. law--but says she didn’t like it and doesn’t smoke it now. Palin adds, “I can’t claim a Bill Clinton and say that I never inhaled.”
Click for Sarah Palin on other issues.   Source: Anchorage Daily News, “Little play,” by K. Hopkins

Newt Gingrich on Drugs : Oct 1, 2005
Narcotics trafficking funds terrorism and corruption

Even small terrorist organizations can have global reach through the global criminal system of the Gray World: illegal narcotics and drug-dealing, illegal transportation across borders, international arms dealers, traditional international crime, and people smuggling.

This Gray World is made even more dangerous by the fact that it can produce income for the terrorist networks. The dramatic increase in heroin production in Afghanistan is a major threat to the pro-Western government in Kabul. In 2004, heroin producers were probably earning as much foreign currency as the Kharzai regime. It is likely over the next few years that Afghan heroin processors will increase their purchasing power and technological reach much faster than the bureaucracy in Kabul. Unchecked, this Gray World could become a major threat to the efforts to create a free, modern Afghanistan.

Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: Winning the Future, by Newt Gingrich, p. 9

Gary Johnson on Drugs : Oct 14, 2002
Other governors privately support ending drug war

Keeping an open mind is part of the way civic personalities maintain touch with reality and other people's wishes. When I held a news conference with Gov. Gary Johnson (R, NM), he urged a rethinking of the self-defeating and cruel war on drugs. Johnson is the only sitting governor to open such a taboo subject, even though he told me that the other governors privately agree with what he says but think it too politically delicate to raise similar questions in their states.
Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Crashing the Party, by Ralph Nader, p.316

Rick Perry on Crime : Aug 15, 2002
Executes Mexican citizen despite plea from Pres. Fox

Mexican citizen Javier Suarez Medina died by lethal injection on Wednesday for the 1988 murder of a Dallas narcotics officer in an execution his president tried to stop. Suarez, 33, was put to death after the US Supreme Court rejected a last-ditch appeal from Mexico and Gov. Rick Perry refused Mexican President Vicente Fox ‘s request for a reprieve.

He was executed for shooting and killing undercover police officer Lawrence Cadena, 43, during a buy-and-bust drug sting. Mexico sought a stay from the Supreme Court on grounds that Suarez’s rights were violated because he was not put in contact with the Mexican consulate in Dallas at the time of his arrest, as required under the Vienna Convention diplomatic treaty. The court rejected the appeal shortly before Suarez was put to death. Fox pleaded with his friend President Bush and with Perry to stop the execution. Perry denied Suarez’s request for a one-time, 30-day stay of execution.

Click for Rick Perry on other issues.   Source: Reuters, on

Mike Bloomberg on Drugs : Apr 10, 2002
You bet I smoked pot; and I enjoyed it

The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws Foundation, (NORML), launched a new $500,000 ad campaign in New York City this week, urging an end to the massive number of arrests of pot smokers in this city, and features NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s quote on his own use of pot. “You bet I did. And I enjoyed it,” said then Mayoral candidate Bloomberg just before the elections last year when a New York magazine reporter asked about his pot use.

“I’m not thrilled they’re using my name. I suppose there’s that First Amendment that gets in the way of me stopping it,“ Bloomberg told reporters when informed of the NORML ads graced with His Honor’s face and attributing the quote to him. But Bloomberg added that the NYPD will continue to vigorously enforce the laws. The campaign includes a full-page ad in the New York Times, as well as posters for bus stops, buses, and phone booths. There are also two 60-second radio ads that will be played by the top stations in the city.

Click for Mike Bloomberg on other issues.   Source: Preston Peet,

Mike Bloomberg on Drugs : Apr 10, 2002
NYPD will continue to vigorously enforce drug laws

[When he learned that NORML would use his image and his words on pro-marijuana advertisements, Bloomberg said] that the NYPD will continue to vigorously enforce the laws [against marijuana use]. In 1992, when former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani took office, there were just 2,000 arrests of pot smokers. Until that time, cops would usually issue a ticket and fine instead of arresting people, yet by 2000, NYC was arresting approximately 50,000 people for simple use and possession every year, nearly a 1,000 a week. The NYPD now runs most every pot smoker they catch through the criminal court system, which can take anywhere from 24 to 72 hours, or longer, subjecting marijuana users to dangers far above and beyond any resulting from their simple use of pot, and the city will oftentimes attempt to coerce those arrested to plea out to charges they don’t deserve under the law.
Click for Mike Bloomberg on other issues.   Source: Preston Peet,

Gary Johnson on Drugs : Apr 9, 2001
War on Drugs is a miserable failure; $6M for treatment

California and Arizona have gone the furthest in decriminalizing non-violent drug use, raising the issue’s profile nationally and spurring about 10 other states this year to consider a similar philosophical shift. Arguing that the multibillion-dollar drug war has been a failure, legislatures in New York, Hawaii, Arkansas, and elsewhere are considering revisions to mandatory sentence laws for low-level drug offenders and may provide millions of dollars to drug diversion programs.

Last month, the New Mexico legislature approved five drug bills proposed by Republican Gov. Gary Johnson, an ardent supporter of decriminalizing drugs. Included in the package are measures that will allocate $6 million to expand treatment services, legal protections for syringe sales, and restoring voting rights for felons who have served their time. “The war on drugs is a miserable failure,” Johnson said. “50% of the money for prisons and courts is spent on drugs. What we’re doing isn’t working.”

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: V. Dion Haynes, Chicago Tribune, p. 6

Gary Johnson on Crime : Jan 1, 2001
Half of crime is drug-related; legalizing drugs cuts crime

Q: Your many opponents believe that legalization would exacerbate the problem. First, they say more people would do drugs if they were legal.

A: Kids who have been surveyed say it's easier to get illegal drugs than beer. The evidence shows that more people won't do drugs if they're legal. Holland, where marijuana is decriminalized and controlled, has 60% of the drug use--both hard drugs and marijuana--the US has. They have a quarter the crime rate, a quarter the homicide rate, a quarter the violent crime rate and a tenth the incarceration rate. It suggests that more people don't do drugs because they're legal. But let's just say that the number of users would go up: I still would say it was worthwhile. Look at the trade-off.

Q: What trade-off?

Half of all crime is drug-related. Half. Half of what we spend--on law enforcement, on the courts, on prisons--is drug-related. If we legalized drugs, we would destroy the environment that allows and even encourages all those crimes.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: David Sheff interview in Playboy Magazine

Gary Johnson on Drugs : Jan 1, 2001
Drug use is up despite $30B spending on War on Drugs

Q: Of all the issues, why this crusade for the legalization of drugs?

A: It is the biggest issue in the country, and it's not being addressed.

Q: It is supposedly being addressed by the long-fought war on drugs.

A: The war on drugs is a mindboggling failure.

Q: Some statistics suggest that drug use is down.

A: That's absolute baloney. I just don't buy it. In one survey people were asked if they did drugs. First, they were asked in the Seventies. I can imagine people responding, "Well, sure, doesn't everybody?" Today, they would likely say "No way" before hanging up. It's a different time. But if we have reduced drug use by half--some claim it has gone down from 26 million to 13 million users--where are the corresponding dollar savings? We have gone from spending federally $1.8 billion to spending $30-plus billion--plus the cost of incarceration--and haven't dented the problem. As we approach zero users, are we going to be at $400 billion? Come on.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Interview with David Sheff in Playboy Magazine

Gary Johnson on Drugs : Jan 1, 2001
Allow medical marijuana and needle exchanges

Q: What's your view on medical marijuana?

A: Of course I think it should be allowed.

Q: Yet your home state doesn't allow it.

A: It's not likely to happen. Now, in particular, there is a backlash against anything drug-related in the state. It's a backlash against me.

Q: Is your campaign actually hurting your cause?

A: Not for a second.

Q: But people might feel that something as innocuous as medical marijuana or a needle exchange program is just the beginning in their governor's agenda to legalize every drug.

A: Well, my goal is for a more rational drug policy. There's no question that I've moved the needle. I've moved the needle nationally. I've moved it in the direction it needs to go. It's a start, but there need to be 3000 other people espousing the same ideas. These other programs--needle exchange, medical marijuana--are important, but they don't address the great ills caused by prohibition.

Click for Gary Johnson on other issues.   Source: Interview with David Sheff in Playboy Magazine

Hillary Clinton on Drugs : Oct 8, 2000
Address drug problem with treatment and special drug courts

Q: What is your approach to the “Drug War”?

CLINTON: I have spoken out on my belief that we should have drug courts that would serve as alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system for low-level offenders. If the person comes before the court, agrees to stay clean, is subjected to drug tests once a week, they are diverted from the criminal justice system. We need more treatment. It is unfair to urge people to get rid of their addiction and not have the treatment facilities when people finally makes up their minds to get treatment.

LAZIO: The truth is that under the Clinton administration, there has been a dramatic and troubling increase in drug abuse by our children. And that has not been addressed. I crossed party lines in 1994 and built a coalition of Republicans that passed the crime bill. If it were not for that, we would not have drug courts right now. We would not have community policing. We need to have somebody in Washington who has the ability to get the job done.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: Senate debate in Manhattan

Jesse Ventura on Drugs : Jul 2, 2000
Drug War fails like Prohibition did

I believe the war on drugs is a failure for the same reasons Prohibition was a failure. My mom told me about that. She lived through it. She saw that as soon as the government made alcohol consumption illegal, criminals cornered the market on liquor. Getting alcohol went from a safe, legal, affordable activity to one that often involved bloodshed and obscene amounts of money. And it gave rise to half a dozen other crimes as well. It caused a huge groundswell in organized crime. It made a lot of criminals rich. Today, illegal drug use is doing the exact same thing.

Just imagine if we could find some way for addicts to get their drugs cheaply, safely, and legally. The bottom would drop out of the illegal drug market. We’d see a huge drop in organized and violent crime.

Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.161

Jesse Ventura on Drugs : Oct 5, 1998
Rethink approach to drugs; “more of the same” fails

To successfully address the drug problem, we need to rethink our approach from the bottom up. Career politicians can beat their chests all day long and talk about how tough they are on drugs. That approach is already a proven failure. While politicians wage their war on drugs, the drug dealers are winning it.

We don’t need more of the same. We need to rethink our approach. As your Governor, I’ll bring people together and provide the administrative resources to facilitate that rethinking process.

Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: E-Democracy Debate

Jesse Ventura on Drugs : Oct 5, 1998
Jail won’t work when we can’t even keep drugs out of prisons

Q: What about Minnesota’s climbing prison population and an apparent stalemate in the war on drugs?

A: Overcrowded prisons and increasing criminal justice expenses are partially due to the misguided way the war on drugs is being waged. Harsh drug sentences have filled our prisons to overflowing with non-violent offenders. Have these harsh sentences worked? No. Does the average citizen feel we are winning the war on drugs? No. Does it make sense to consider new approaches to the so-called drug problem? Absolutely.

Under our current laws, we can’t even keep illegal drugs out of prison. How can we expect to keep illegal drugs off the streets? It doesn’t matter how many drug dealers and users we put in jail. As long as people use illegal drugs, and huge amounts of money can be made by selling them, there will always be more dealers to replace the ones we lock away.

Click for Jesse Ventura on other issues.   Source: E-Democracy Debate

Hillary Clinton on Drugs : Sep 25, 1996
Involved parents most influential in reducing teen drug use

Some factors that increase the risk of substance abuse in adolescents deserve emphasis. Casual attitudes towards marijuana and minors’ access to cigarettes raise the likelihood that teenagers will make a sad progression to more serious drug use & earlier sexual activity. Dropping out of school puts the child at greater risk, as does having a parent who is an abuser of alcohol or drugs.

One reason my husband is adamant about curbing smoking is the fact that he learned firsthand in his own family, about the slippery slope that begins with the use of one addictive substance and leads to other destructive behaviors.

The characteristics that keep kids from using drugs are hard to quantify but not to understand. Children who truly grasp tha they have a choice to make in the matter are more likely to make a responsible one. So are children with high self-esteem. Most influential of all is the optimism & awareness that comes from knowing their parents are interested & involved in their lives.

Click for Hillary Clinton on other issues.   Source: It Takes A Village, by Hillary Clinton, p.152-153

Newt Gingrich on Drugs : Jun 1, 1995
Admitted to smoking marijuana, coming of age in 1960s

It has been popular to conjure up in just how many ways Newt Gingrich is like Bill Clinton. Superficially they share much. Both came of age around the same time--the '60s, the Vietnam era. Each owns a vintage '60s Mustang. Each admitted to smoking marijuana and neither served in the military. Each is an indefatigable politician who has come back from crushing defeat.
Click for Newt Gingrich on other issues.   Source: Newt!, by Dick Williams, p. 19

  • Additional quotations related to Drug War issues can be found under Drugs.
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Candidates on Drugs:
Pres.Barack Obama
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