Rand Paul on Drugs
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.
PAUL: As a physician and a father, I've always been concerned about drug abuse. And that was actually a misquote; what I actually said was I don't think people are concerned about where the funding comes from. They want the problem tackled. There's always a debate between how much is federal and how much is state. All I said is that like mos problems, I think the more local control, the better. The more the decisions are made by sheriffs and local communities, the better chance we have of fixing the problem.
Q: What about Operate UNITE, a federal program which has spent $16 million over th last two years to fight drug abuse in the state of Kentucky? Would you shut that down?
PAUL: No, but what I would say is here's the problem. [Conway] wants to talk about drugs all the time. Under his watch the meth labs have doubled in the state.
Paul was asked whether public sentiment might change his mind about supporting federal fundin for drug programs, such as Operation UNITE. That program, paid for with federal funds, coordinates law enforcement agencies for undercover drug busts and provides resources for treatment mostly in Eastern Kentucky. He said a candidate should stick to his positions.
Paul has said he favors handling the issue locally rather than sending tax dollars to Washington that come back in the form of Operation UNITE or other programs. Earlier this week, he held a press conference at the Wingshadow Lodge, a facility aimed at helping men recover from addition. The facility is part of the faith-based Teen Challenge program.
Jack Conway has been hammering Paul on the issue of drugs for the last two weeks as he seeks to paint Paul as out-of-touch.
Paul said he prefers local initiatives over federally based responses to combat drug trafficking. Paul has said he would cut federal funding for undercover drug investigations and drug treatment programs in Appalachia, a hotbed for marijuana growers and drug dealers selling prescription pills and methamphetamines. He told The Associated Press recently that he doesn't think drug abuse is "a real pressing issue" in the Senate race, suggesting that voters are more concerned about fiscal and social concerns.
Paul has called drug sentences of 10 to 20 years too harsh. While he has said he opposes the legalization of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes, he believes it should be up to individual states to decide the issue.
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.
Rep. PAUL: Nine States allow industrial hemp production or research in accord with State laws. However, Federal law is standing in the way of farmers in these States growing what may be a very profitable crop. Because of current Federal law, all hemp included in products sold in the US must be imported instead of being grown by American farmers. Since 1970, the federal Controlled Substances Act's inclusion of industrial hemp in the "schedule one" definition of marijuana has prohibited American farmers from growing industrial hemp despite the fact that industrial hemp has such a low content of THC (the psychoactive chemical in the related marijuana plant) that nobody can be psychologically affected by consuming hemp.
The US is the only industrialized nation that prohibits industrial hemp cultivation. Industrial hemp is a crop that was grown legally throughout the US for most of our Nation's history. In fact, during World War II, the Federal Government actively encouraged American farmers to grow industrial hemp to help the war effort. It is unfortunate that the Federal Government has stood in the way of American farmers competing in the global industrial hemp market. Indeed, the founders of our Nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited Government.
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