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.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.180
Nov 11, 2007
National ban on smoking would reduce chronic illnesses
Q: Over 400,000 Americans have premature death due to smoking or secondhand smoke. Who would favor a national law to ban smoking in all public places?
BIDEN: Yes. I would ban--in all public [places], nationally.
3,000 kids start smoking every day in this country.
RICHARDSON: I did it in New Mexico as a national law.
KUCINICH: You bet I’ll go for a national law.
Q: So Biden, Dodd, Richardson, Gravel and Kucinich in favor of a national law.
EDWARDS: Wait, wait, wait, and Edwards.
BIDEN: Let me also add here as well--with 3,000 young people starting to smoke every single day, one of the major causes of the health care issue and Medicare--is because of chronic illnesses associated with
things like smoking. So the idea that we wouldn’t draft a national law to stop this in public places is one of the things you’re going to have to do if you’re going to deal with rising health care costs and the same is true with alcohol.
Q: Would you as president remove the requirement that a state have a legal drinking age of 21 in order to receive federal highway funds, thereby returning the drinking age back to the states?
BIDEN: Absolutely no, I would not. The cost of alcoholism in
America, the cost of accidents that flow from drunkenness, are astronomical. This is a gigantic problem, just like the drug issue. And the idea that we’re going to suggest that it makes good sense to move the age down to 18 I find to be counterproductive
I would not do that.
DODD: No, I agree with Joe on this. The problems associated with alcohol are significant in our country. The evidence is overwhelming.
GRAVEL: I think we should lower it. Anybody that can go fight and die for this country should
be able to drink.
KUCINICH: Of course they should be able to drink at age 18, and they should be able to vote at age 16.
FactCheck: 40,000 babies with alcohol syndrome, not 300,000
Biden gave a figure many times too high when he claimed that 300,000 babies are born with deformities each year “because of women who are alcoholics while they’re carrying those children.” According to the CDC, roughly 40,000 babies per year suffer from
fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Roughly 120,000 babies suffer from a birth defect of any kind, per year, far below the 300,000 Biden cites as being born specifically to alcoholic mothers. We’re unable to find any support for Biden’s 300,000 figure.
Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth
Sep 6, 2007
Increase penalties for dealing drugs near schools
Fighting Drugs: Joe Biden has worked to increase penalties for dealing drugs within 1,000 feet of schools, created the Drug Czar office in the White House, and was an important voice in classifying steroids as drugs and has worked to keep them out of
the hands of students.
The Biden Crime Law: Joe Biden wrote the legislation that put 100,000 cops on the streets, and built drug courts to improve rehabilitation treatment for non-violent offenders.
If you count [all the gun crimes], and they’re almost all related to drugs. They’re almost all related to drugs. And the fact of the matter is we have no drug policy in this country. And, secondly, what we do is we, instead of incarcerating our young
blacks and other folks in the inner city who are arrested for a violent crime, instead of separating these juveniles, we put them in with adults. They go ahead and they learn the trade. They learn the trade and they come back out.
Secondly, what we do is we also have a notion here where instead of putting them through this process, we should put them through the drug courts. I’m the guy that authored that drug court policy. We should divert them into treatment.
You want to stop death in your neighborhood, take drugs of the corner. You want to take drugs off the corner, take them out of the prison system and put them into treatment.
The bulk of sentencing inequity is at the state level, not at the federal level.
We need diversion out of the system. I’m the guy that wrote the drug court legislation that is in the law right now.
You have to eliminate the disparity
between crack & powdered cocaine. I’ve introduced legislation to do that.
You have to find a way in which you insist that the states apply the law equally--they don’t.
300,000 will come out addicted from the prison this year
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University
Jun 28, 2007
Created nation’s Drug Czar Office & drug courts
As the Co-Chairman of the Senate Drug Caucus, Senator Biden has long been a national voice for effective drug control policies. He created the nation’s Drug Czar Office to oversee the federal government’s anti-drug strategy.
Biden also helped create “drug courts” that combine intensive supervision, drug testing and treatment for non-violent first offenders.
Source: PAC website, www.UniteOurStates.com
Dec 12, 2006
Voted NO on increasing penalties for drug offenses.
Vote to increase penalties on certain drug-related crimes. The amendment would specifically target the manufacturing or trafficking of amphetamines & methamphetamines and possession of powder cocaine, and set stronger penalties for dealing drugs
Voted YES on spending international development funds on drug control.
Vote to add an additional $53 million (raising the total to $213 million) to international narcotics control funding, and pay for it by taking $25 million from international operations funding and $28 million from development assistance.
Rename "Drug Abuse" institute as "Diseases of Addiction".
Biden introduced renaming "Drug Abuse" institute as "Diseases of Addiction"
A bill to change the name of the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the National Institute on Diseases of Addiction; and to change the name of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to the National Institute on Alcohol Disorders and Health. Congress makes the following findings:
Addiction is a chronic, relapsing brain disease that is characterized by compulsive drug seeking and use, despite harmful consequences. It is considered a brain disease because drugs change the brain's structure and manner in which it functions. These brain changes can be long lasting, and can lead to the harmful behaviors seen in people who abuse drugs. The disease of addiction affects both brain and behavior, and scientists have identified many of the biological and environmental factors that contribute to the development and progression of the disease.
The pejorative term 'abuse' used in connection with diseases of addiction has the adverse effect of increasing social stigma and personal shame, both of which are so often barriers to an individual's decision to seek treatment.
NAME CHANGE: Any reference in any law, regulation, order, document, paper, or other record of the United States to the 'National Institute on Drug Abuse', the 'National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism', the 'National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism', and the 'National Advisory Council on Drug Abuse' shall be deemed to be a reference to the 'National Institute on Diseases of Addiction', the 'National Institute on Alcohol Disorders and Health', the 'National Advisory Council on Alcohol Disorders and Health', and the 'National Advisory Council on Diseases of Addiction', respectively.
Source: Recognizing Addiction as a Disease Act (S.1011) 07-S1011 on Mar 28, 2007
End harsher sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine.
Biden introduced ending harsher sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine
A bill to target cocaine kingpins and address sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.
Sponsor's introductory remarks: Sen. Biden: My bill will eliminate the current 100-to-1 disparity [between sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine] by increasing the 5-year mandatory minimum threshold quantity for crack cocaine to 500 grams, from 5 grams, and the 10-year threshold quantity to 5,000 grams, from 50 grams, while maintaining the current statutory mandatory minimum threshold quantities for powder cocaine. It will also eliminate the current 5-year mandatory minimum penalty for simple possession of crack cocaine, the only mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of a drug by a first time offender.
Drug use is a serious problem, and I have long supported strong antidrug legislation. But in addition to being tough, our drug laws should be rational and fair. My bill achieves the right balance. We have talked about the need to address this cocaine sentencing disparity for long enough. It is time to act.
Increases the amount of a controlled substance or mixture containing a cocaine base (i.e., crack cocaine) required for the imposition of mandatory minimum prison terms for crack cocaine trafficking to eliminate the sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.
Eliminates the five-year mandatory minimum prison term for first-time possession of crack cocaine.
Increases monetary penalties for drug trafficking and for the importation and exportation of controlled substances.
Related bills: H.R.79, H.R.460, H.R.4545, S.1383, S.1685.
Source: Drug Sentencing Reform & Kingpin Trafficking Act (S.1711) 07-S1711 on Jun 27, 2007
Enhance interdiction by criminalizing unflagged submarines.
Biden introduced enhancing interdiction by criminalizing unflagged submarines
Legislative Summary:A bill to enhance drug trafficking interdiction by creating a Federal felony for operating or embarking in a submersible or semi-submersible vessel without nationality and on an international voyage.
Congress finds that operating or embarking in a submersible or semi-submersible vessel without nationality and on an international voyage is a serious international problem, facilitates transnational crime, including drug trafficking, and terrorism, and presents a specific threat to the safety of maritime navigation and the security of the United States.
Whoever knowingly operates in any submersible vessel that is without nationality and that is navigating waters beyond the outer limit of the territorial sea of a single country, with the intent to evade detection, shall be punished as prescribed
House version is H.R.6295; related Senate bill S.3198.