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Bill Richardson on Drugs

Democratic Governor (NM); Secretary of Commerce-Designee


Supports national ban on smoking in public places

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.

DODD: 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.

Source: [Xref Edwards] 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth , Sep 6, 2007

Keep drinking age at 21; enforce but also rehab

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.

DODD: No, I agree with Joe on this. The problems associated with alcohol are significant in our country. The evidence is overwhelming..

RICHARDSON: No, I wouldn’t lower it. In fact, at this moment, my wife is hosting in New Mexico with the surgeon general a forum on underage drinking. I think what you need, though, is a dual approach. Yes, we need to have strong law enforcement against DWI, against so many other law- related issues, but you also have to have substance abuse treatment.

GRAVEL: I think we should lower it. Anybody that can go fight and die for this country should be able to drink.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College , Sep 6, 2007

Treatment & education over enforcement & incarceration

We need to find ways that we deal with substance abuse. In New Mexico and the west, meth is the biggest problem, and we don’t have answers in terms of how we can best treat it. If you’re going to deal with substance abuse, mental health problems, alcoholism, what is critically important, not just law enforcement, incarceration, but treatment and education, an investment in serious substance abuse programs that can make things better.
Source: SEIU Democratic Health Care Forum in Las Vegas , Mar 24, 2007

Pushed “War on DWI”--you drink, you drive, you lose

When I took office, drunken driving in NM had reached epidemic proportions. Our rate of DWI arrests was running 50% above the national average. DWI was the leading cause of death & injury among New Mexicans 44-years old & younger, and the estimated cost in medical bills, higher insurance rates, and other expenses topped $1 billion per year.

We now have one of the best programs in the country. We started with stiffer laws for repeat offenders--an additional four years added to a drunk driver’s sentence for each prior conviction. Before, jail time was not mandatory for DWI offenders who violated the terms of their probation; it is now. We also cracked down on repeat offenders in other ways, lowering the DWI blood alcohol limit from .8 to .6 and making participation in a treatment program mandatory. We set up a hotline to report suspicious driving and created a radio/TV advertising campaign that featured me hammering home the anti-DWI point in six words: “You drink, you drive, you lose.” No exceptions.

Source: Between Worlds, by Bill Richardson, p.323-325 , Nov 3, 2005

Crack down on illegal drug labs

We’re cracking down on illegal drug labs - these dangerous, makeshift factories are popping up almost daily in neighborhoods across our state. In addition to the deadly product they produce, the labs are a danger to nearby residents, and anyone in the house, including children. Our State Police are targeting these illegal drug labs and will throw the book at anyone making drugs, and raise the penalties for those doing so with children present.
Source: 2004 State of the State speech to the New Mexico Legislature , Jan 20, 2004

No legalization: drugs play an insidious role in crime

My philosophy towards drug use is not legalization, but recognition of the dangerous, insidious role drugs play in crime in New Mexico.

Effective, immediate and mandatory drug and alcohol treatment is one of the most effective tools to cut crime.

I am proposing a mandatory New Mexico Drug Court for first-time, non-violent offenders who are arrested for drug or alcohol related crimes.

Source: Campaign web site, RichardsonForGovernor.com, “Priorities” , Oct 24, 2002

Drug Courts and treatment instead of incarceration

My goal is to see an adequate number of Drug Courts in each of the state’s judicial districts. Under my proposal, first-time, non-violent offenders who are arrested for drug or alcohol related crimes-as an alternative to incarceration- must adhere to a strict regimen of treatment, counseling, tests, community service, and hearings. If the offender misses a step, he or she has to pay fines and do jail time. Participants must pay for the program as they are able, and the court will determine the individual’s ability.

Many national studies have shown the same thing: drug courts work. Graduates have a far less chance of re-arrest than if they were sentenced and then released, or just put on probation. Drug courts are the first step towards reducing addiction rates and criminal activity. But they must be accompanied by expansion of our treatment facilities, throughout NM. In the long term, this policy will lead to savings in prosecution and jail costs.

Source: Campaign web site, RichardsonForGovernor.com, “Priorities” , Oct 24, 2002

Mandatory jail sentences for selling illegal drugs

Source: 1996 Congressional National Political Awareness Test , Nov 1, 1996

  • Click here for definitions & background information on Drugs.
  • Click here for policy papers on Drugs.
  • Click here for a profile of Bill Richardson.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Bill Richardson.
Other candidates on Drugs: Bill Richardson on other issues:
Obama Administration:
Pres.Barack Obama
V.P.Joe Biden
State:John Kerry
DHS:Janet Napolitano
DoD:Chuck Hagel
A.G.:Eric Holder
HHS:Kathleen Sebelius
USDA:Tom Vilsack

First Obama Administration:
State:Hillary Clinton
Staff:Rahm Emanuel
DOT:Ray LaHood
DOI:Ken Salazar
DOL:Hilda Solis

Former Bush Administration:
State:Colin Powell
State:Condi Rice
EPA:Christie Whitman

Former Clinton Administration:
HUD:Andrew Cuomo
V.P.Al Gore
Labor:Robert Reich
A.G.:Janet Reno
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Page last updated: Mar 09, 2014