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Ron Paul on Drugs

Republican Representative (TX-14); previously Libertarian for President


Blacks disproportionately imprisoned for victimless crimes

Q: Blacks are jailed at four times the rate of whites in South Carolina, and are most often convicted on drug offenses. Do you see racial disparities in drug-related arrests and convictions as a problem?

PAUL: Yes. Definitely. There is a disparity. It's not that it is my opinion, it is very clear. Blacks and minorities who are involved with drugs, are arrested disproportionately. They are tried and imprisoned disproportionately. They suffer the consequence of the death penalty disproportionately. Rich white people don't get the death penalty very often. And most of these are victimless crimes. Sometimes people can use drugs and arrested three times and never committed a violent act and they can go to prison for life. I think there's discrimination in the system, but you have to address the drug war. I would say the judicial system is probably one of the worst places where prejudice and discrimination still exists in this country.

Source: Fox News debate on MLK Day in Myrtle Beach, SC , Jan 16, 2012

Cancel the drug war, and cancel its violence

Q: What could we be doing to help stop these drug cartels?

PAUL: I think that's another war we ought to cancel, because it's to nobody's benefit. And that's where the violence is coming from.

Q: Does that mean legalize all these drugs?

PAUL: I think the federal war on drugs is a total failure. You can at least let sick people have marijuana because it's helpful, but compassionate conservatives say, well, we can't do this--the federal government's going in there and overriding state laws and putting people like that in prison. Why don't we handle the drugs like we handle alcohol? Alcohol is a deadly drug. The real deadly drugs are the prescription drugs. They kill a lot more people than the illegal drugs. The drug war is out of control. I fear the drug war because it undermines our civil liberties. It magnifies our problems on the borders. We spent, over the last 40 years, $1 trillion on this war. And believe me, the kids can still get the drugs. It just hasn't worked.

Source: 2011 CNN National Security GOP primary debate , Nov 22, 2011

Our drug war is driving our immigration policy

We need to remove the incentive--easy road to citizenship. Nobody has mentioned the fact that they qualify for welfare benefits. The state of Texas shouldn't be forced to provide free health care and free education.

But there is a mess down there, and it's a big mess. And it's the drug war that's going on there. And our drug laws are driving this. So now we're killing thousands and thousands of people. That makes it much more complicated.

Source: 2011 GOP debate in Simi Valley CA at the Reagan Library , Sep 7, 2011

We don't need laws to tell us to not use heroin

Q: You say that the federal government should stay out of people's personal habits, including marijuana, cocaine, even heroin.

A: It's an issue of protecting liberty across the board. If you have the inconsistency, then you're really not defending liberty. We want freedom [including] when it comes to our personal habits.

Q: Are you suggesting that heroin and prostitution are an exercise of liberty?

A: Yes, in essence, if we leave it to the states. For over 100 years, they WERE legal. You're implying if we legalize heroin tomorrow, everyone's gonna use heroin.

How many people here are going to use heroin if it were legal? I bet nobody! "Oh yeah, I need the government to take care of me. I don't want to use heroin, so I need these laws!"

A: I never thought heroin would get applause!

Source: 2011 GOP primary debate in South Carolina , May 5, 2011

Drug War allows drug lords to make a lot more money

End the drug war. The deteriorating economic conditions and the mess with immigration invite the violence of the drug lords and corrupt officials on both sides. It's time to break up the coalition of the religious drug warriors and the drug dealers who fight any effort to decriminalize drugs. It's time to treat all drugs the way we treat alcohol and cigarettes, substances that kill millions more than hard drugs do. The drug war allows drug lords to make a lot more money than legalized drugs ever would.
Source: Liberty Defined, by Rep. Ron Paul, p.156 , Apr 19, 2011

Someday we'll wake up and end the Second Prohibition

In Texas, it's common knowledge that the current wars on the Mexico-Texas border are, to a large extent, about drugs. Ironically, the two strongest groups that want to maintain the status quo of prohibition are the drug dealers and Christian conservative --two groups with opposite motivations but who share a common interest in keeping the drug war going. The cost to pursue the drug war in the past 40 years runs into hundreds of billions. The social cost, including the loss of civil liberties, is incalculable. Crime relating to the drug laws far surpasses the crime related to the 15 years of alcohol prohibition. I expect that someday the country will wake up and suddenly decide, as we did in 1933, that prohibition to improve personal behavior is lost cause, and the second repeal of prohibition will occur. This is more likely now than ever before because of the growing perception that the federal government is inept and more Americans are becoming aware of the senselessness of the war on drugs.
Source: Liberty Defined, by Rep. Ron Paul, p.228 , Apr 19, 2011

War on drugs is out of control; revert control to states

Q: In your 1988 campaign you said, ďAll drugs should be decriminalized. Drugs should be distributed by any adult to other adults. There should be no controls on production, supply or purchase for adults.Ē Is that still your position?

A: Yeah. Itís sort of like alcohol. Alcoholís a deadly drug, kills more people than anything else. And today the absurdity on this war on drugs has just been horrible. Now the federal government takes over and overrules states where state laws permit medicinal marijuana 1 for people dying of cancer. The federal government goes in and arrests these people, put them in prison with mandatory sentences. This war on drugs is totally out of control. If you want to regulate cigarettes and alcohol and drugs, it should be at the state level. Thatís where I stand on it. The federal government has no prerogatives on this.

Q: But you would decriminalize it?

A: I would, at the federal level. I donít have control over the states. And thatís why the Constitutionís there.

Source: Meet the Press: 2007 ďMeet the CandidatesĒ series , Dec 23, 2007

Repeal most federal drug laws; blacks are treated unfairly

Q: If you are elected president in 2008, what positive and significant legacy, if any, will you leave for Black Americans?

A: I would like to believe that if we had a freer society, it would take care of Blacks and whites and everybody equally because weíre all individuals. To me, that is so important. But if we had equal justice under the law, I think it would be a big improvement. If we had probably a repeal of most of the federal laws on drugs and the unfairness on how Blacks are treated with these drugs laws, it would be a tremendous improvement. And also, I think that if youíre going to have prosperity, it serves everybody. And if this is done by emphasizing property rights and freedom of the individuals, making sure that the powerful special interests donít control Washington, that the military industrial complex doesnít suck away all the wealth of the country, and then we would have prosperity.

Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University , Sep 27, 2007

Inner-city minorities are punished unfairly in war on drugs

Q: What policy would you support to guarantee young Black and Latino men a fairer equal justice system?

A: A system designed to protect individual liberty will have no punishments for any group and no privileges. Today, I think inner-city folks and minorities are punished unfairly in the war on drugs. For instance, Blacks make up 14% of those who use drugs, yet 36 percent of those arrested are Blacks and it ends up that 63% of those who finally end up in prison are Blacks. This has to change. We donít have to have more courts and more prisons. We need to repeal the whole war on drugs. It isnít working. We have already spent over $400 billion since the early 1970s, and it is wasted money. Prohibition didnít work. Prohibition on drugs doesnít work. So we need to come to our senses. And, absolutely, itís a disease. We donít treat alcoholics like this. This is a disease, and we should orient ourselves to this. That is one way you could have equal justice under the law.

Source: 2007 GOP Presidential Forum at Morgan State University , Sep 27, 2007

$500B on War on Drugs since 1970s has been a total failure

On the issue of drugs, we have spent nearly five hundred billion dollars on the War on Drugs, since the 1970s. Total failure. Some day, we have to admit it. Today, we have the federal government going into states that have legal medical marijuana, arresting people--undermining state laws--arresting people who use marijuana when theyíre dying with cancer and AIDS, and itís done with, as a compassionate conservative. And it doesnít work.

What it does, it removes the ability to states to do their things, and also introduces the idea that itís the federal government that will get to decide whether we get to take vitamins, and alternative medical care, or whatever. Most of our history, believe it or not, had no drug laws. Prohibition has been an absolute failure for alcohol. Drug addiction is a medical problem. Itís not a problem of the law.

Source: 2007 GOP Values Voter Presidential Debate , Sep 17, 2007

Legalize industrial hemp

Paul believes in the legalization of industrial hemp. Paul supported HR 3037 to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. This bill would have given the states the power to regulate farming of hemp. The measure would be a first since the national prohibition of industrial hemp farming in the United States. He favors the legalization of marijuana.
Source: SourceWatch.org , Jan 22, 2007

Drug War fosters violence at home & breeds resentment abroad

For the first 140 years of our history, we had essentially no federal war on drugs, and far fewer problems with drug addiction and related crimes as a consequence. In the past 30 years, even with the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on the drug war, little good has come of it. We have vacillated from efforts to stop the drugs at the source to severely punishing the users, yet nothing has improved.

The drug war encourages violence. Government violence against nonviolent users is notorious and has led to the unnecessary prison overpopulation. Innocent taxpayers are forced to pay for all this so-called justice. Our drug eradication project (using spraying) around the world, from Colombia to Afghanistan, breeds resentment because normal crops and good land can be severely damaged. Local populations perceive that the efforts and the profiteering remain somehow beneficial to our own agenda in these various countries.

Source: House speech, in Foreign Policy of Freedom, p.159-160 , Oct 25, 2001

Societal inconsistency on alcohol contributes to drug use

Loss of hope in the future has driven many to think only of the present, making a drug-induced high the first priority in many peopleís lives. Young people feel helpless against their governmentís inability to provide economic prosperity or safety from a nuclear holocaust. Teenage suicide statistics are a frightening revelation of this feeling of hopelessness.

The drug craze reflects the desperate feeling of many. Young people remains skeptical of a generation that kills ten times as many with alcohol as with hard drugs and yet pontificates about the dangers of smoking marijuana. Lack of consistency never contributes to credibility.

Source: Freedom Under Siege, by Ron Paul, p. 6-7 , Dec 31, 1987

Voted NO on more funding for Mexico to fight drugs.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Voted NO on subjecting federal employees to random drug tests.

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

War on Drugs has abused Bill of Rights .

Paul adopted the Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement:

    BE IT RESOLVED that the Republican Liberty Caucus endorses the following [among its] principles:
  1. While recognizing the harm that drug abuse causes society, we also recognize that government drug policy has been ineffective and has led to frightening abuses of the Bill of Rights which could affect the personal freedom of any American. We, therefore, support alternatives to the War on Drugs.
  2. Per the tenth amendment to the US Constitution, matters such as drugs should be handled at the state or personal level.
  3. All laws which give license to violate the Bill of Rights should be repealed.
Source: Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement 00-RLC13 on Dec 8, 2000

Legalize medical marijuana.

Paul co-sponsored the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act:

Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR2592 on Jul 23, 2001

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

Paul scores A by VOTE-HEMP on pro-hemp legalization policies

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

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

Rated +30 by NORML, indicating a pro-drug-reform stance.

Paul scores +30 by the NORML on drug reform

OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 NORML scores as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Allow rehabilitated drug convicts get student loans.

Paul co-sponsored allowing rehabilitated drug convicts get student loans

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

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

Ban federal funding for needle-exchange programs.

Paul co-sponsored banning federal funding for needle-exchange programs

To prohibit the expenditure of Federal funds for the distribution of needles or syringes for the hypodermic injection of illegal drugs. Amends the Public Health Service Act to prohibit Federal funds from being expended to carry out any program of distributing sterile needles or syringes for the hypodermic injection of illegal drugs.

Source: Keep Drug Needles Off the Streets Act (H.R.982) 1999-H982 on Mar 4, 1999

Distribute sterile syringes to reduce AIDS and hepatitis.

Paul signed Community AIDS and Hepatitis Prevention Act

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

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

Sponsored bill letting states legalize industrial hemp.

Paul sponsored Industrial Hemp Farming Act

Amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of "marihuana." Defines "industrial hemp" to mean the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-nine tetrahydrocannabinol concentration that does not exceed 0.3% on a dry weight basis. Grants a state regulating the growing and processing of industrial hemp exclusive authority, in any criminal or civil action or administrative proceeding, to determine whether any such plant meets that concentration limit.

Source: H.R.1866 2009-H1866 on Apr 2, 2009

2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Drugs: Ron Paul on other issues:
TX Gubernatorial:
Annise Parker
Julian Castro
Mike Rawlings
Rick Perry
TX Senatorial:
David Dewhurst
John Cornyn
Jon Roland
Kay Bailey Hutchison
Paul Sadler
Ted Cruz

Retiring to run for other office:

Running for President:
TX-14:Ron Paul(R)

Running for Mayor:
CA-51:Bob Filner(D)

Running for Governor:
IN-6:Mike Pence(R)
WA-1:Jay Inslee(D)

Running for Senate:
AZ-6:Jeff Flake(R)
CT-5:Chris Murphy(R)
FL-14:Connie Mack(R)
HI-2:Mazie Hirono(D)
IN-2:Joe Donnelly(D)
MO-2:Todd Akin(R)
MT-0:Dennis Rehberg(R)
ND-0:Rick Berg(D)
NM-1:Martin Heinrich(D)
NV-1:Shelley Berkley(D)
NY-9:Bob Turner(R)
WI-2:Tammy Baldwin(D)
Lost Primary 2012:
IL-16:Donald Manzullo(R)
NJ-9:Steven Rothman(D)
OH-2:Jean Schmidt(R)
OH-9:Dennis Kucinich(D)
PA-4:Jason Altmire(D)
PA-17:Tim Holden(D)
TX-16:Silvestre Reyes(D)

Retiring 2012:
AR-4:Mike Ross(D)
AZ-8:Gabby Giffords(D)
CA-2:Wally Herger(R)
CA-6:Lynn Woolsey(D)
CA-18:Dennis Cardoza(R)
CA-24:Elton Gallegly(D)
CA-26:David Dreier(R)
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IL-12:Jerry Costello(D)
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IN-5:Dan Burton(R)
KY-4:Geoff Davis(R)
MA-1:John Olver(D)
MA-4:Barney Frank(D)
MI-5:Dale Kildee(D)
NC-9:Sue Myrick(R)
NC-11:Heath Shuler(D)
NC-13:Brad Miller(D)
NY-5:Gary Ackerman(D)
NY-10:Ed Towns(D)
NY-22:Maurice Hinchey(D)
OH-7:Steve Austria(R)
OK-2:Dan Boren(D)
PA-19:Todd Platts(R)
TX-20:Charles Gonzalez(D)
WA-6:Norm Dicks(D)
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Page last updated: Jun 12, 2012