CONWAY: Rand Paul will do anything to keep from talking about the drug issue because he doesn't get the state.
PAUL: Meth labs are not part of the drug issue?
CONWAY: No, meth labs are part of the drug issue, Rand. What's happened is we've gotten better at identifying them. You have new so-called shake-and-bake labs that are much smaller. We're finding a lot more of them. That's where those statistics come from. But it's another example where Rand Paul doesn't get Kentucky. He doesn't get our farm economy. He doesn't get that drugs are a real pressing issue. I've had mothers crying on my shoulders because their daughters overdosed from oxycontin. I get that it's a real pressing issue. I've seen it firsthand.
PAUL: Actually, prescription drug abuse is up since you became attorney general.
CONWAY: Oxycontin is probably down a little bit, to be honest with you.
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 accusing Conway of "pandering" for votes by mischaracterizing his concern for the state's drug woes: "It's been recently insinuated somehow that I don't care about the drug problem in Kentucky, and that's absolutely wrong."
Paul shows libertarian leanings on drugs. He 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. Conway said Kentucky can't afford to take on drug traffickers without federal help.
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.
|2012 Presidential contenders on Drugs:|
Green: Dr.Jill Stein(MA)
Libertarian: Gov.Gary Johnson(NM)
Justice: Mayor Rocky Anderson(UT)
Constitution: Rep.Virgil Goode(VA)
Peace+Freedom: Roseanne Barr(HI)
Reform Party: André Barnett(NY)
AmericansElect: Gov.Buddy Roemer(LA)
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