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Howard Berman on Drugs

Democratic Representative (CA-28)


Voted YES 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 prohibiting needle exchange & medical marijuana in DC.

Vote to pass a bill that provides $429.1 million in funds for the District of Columbia and approves the District's $6.8 billion budget. Among other provisions, the bill prohibits the use of federal funds for needle exchange programs, prohibits implementing an approved ballot initiative to legalize the medicinal use of marijuana.
Reference: Bill sponsored by Istook, R-OK; Bill HR 3064 ; vote number 1999-504 on Oct 14, 1999

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

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

Berman 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.

Berman 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

Distribute sterile syringes to reduce AIDS and hepatitis.

Berman 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

2012 Governor, House and Senate candidates on Drugs: Howard Berman on other issues:
CA Gubernatorial:
Antonio Villaraigosa
Jerry Brown
Jerry Sanders
CA Senatorial:
Barbara Boxer
Dianne Feinstein
Elizabeth Emken
Gail Lightfoot

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)
CA-41:Jerry Lewis(R)
IL-12:Jerry Costello(D)
IL-15:Timothy Johnson(R)
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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Mailing Address:
Rayburn HOB 2221, Washington, DC 20515
Phone number:
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Page last updated: Jun 10, 2012