Hillary Clinton on Drugs
Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY)
CLINTON: Everywhere I go to campaign, I'm meeting families who are affected by the drug problem that mostly is opioids and heroin now, and lives are being lost and children are being orphaned. So I have tried to come out with a comprehensive approach that does tell the states that we will work with you from the federal government putting more money, about a billion dollars a year, to help states have a different approach to dealing with this epidemic. Police officers must be equipped with the antidote to a heroin overdose or an opioid overdose, known as Narcan. They should be able to administer it. So should firefighters and others. We have to move away from treating the use of drugs as a crime and instead, move it to where it belongs, as a health issue. And we need to divert more people from the criminal justice system into drug courts, into treatment, and recovery.
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.
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."
A: I believe we’ve got to decrease the disparity that exists. It is really unconscionable that someone who uses five grams of crack cocaine, compared to 500 grams of powder cocaine would face such disparate sentencing. And it’s further compounded because the possession of crack cocaine really is unique in the way that it leads directly to prison for so many people. So I am going to tackle the disparity. I think it definitely needs to be prospective on principle. I have problems with retroactivity. I think that it’s something that a lot of communities will be concerned about as well, so let’s tackle this disparity, let’s take it on. The sentencing commission hasn’t come forward yet with its specific recommendation but I’m looking forward to seeing it.
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.
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.
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.
Sen. FEINSTEIN: This act is designed to address problems that the Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, has identified in the implementation of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005. The bill that I introduce today would:
This is a common-sense bill, designed to strengthen the implementation of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act. This bill would create incentives to ensure that the self-certification process of the law is made both effective and enforceable. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.
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