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Al Gore on Drugs

2000 Democratic Nominee for President; Former Vice President


Clinton-Gore drug policy: spending up; drug use down

Calling teen drug statistics “one of the worst public policy failures of the ‘90s,” Bush described a mounting national crisis. “From 1979 to 1992, our nation confronted drug abuse successfully. Teen drug use declined each and every year,” Bush said. “Unfortunately, in the last 7-1/2 years, fighting drug abuse has ceased to be a national priority.” Blaming a lack of funding and an inconsistent policy, Bush listed a litany of troubles: the doubling of teen drug use, the growth of methamphetamines, the increase of the number of high school seniors who use marijuana.

Gore aides dismissed the Bush statistics, saying they did not take the overall picture into account. Since 1992, the number of drug users ages 25 to 34 has dropped 39%, and drug use by teenagers ages 12 to 17 declined 21% between 1997 and 1999, a Gore spokesman said: He added, “Al Gore and this administration proposed the largest antidrug budget ever and under this administration drug arrests are up while drug use is down.”

Source: (X-ref Bush) Kornblut and Johnson, Boston Globe, p. A6 , Oct 7, 2000

Science doesn’t say medical marijuana is proper

Vice President Gore today backed away from his earlier support of medical marijuana, saying he sees “no reliable evidence” that it is an effective pain reliever. During a candidate forum in New Hampshire last December, Gore said, “I think that where the alleviation of pain where medical situations is concerned, we have not given doctors enough flexibility to help patients who are going through acute pain.” But today, when asked by a student where he stood on a medical treatment that is legal in California, Gore took a stronger stance against use of the drug. “Right now, the science does not show me, or the experts whose judgment I trust, that it is the proper medication for pain and that there are not better alternatives available in every situation,” he said during a school visit in a low-income neighborhood southeast of downtown Los Angeles.
Source: Ceci Connolly, Washington Post, pg. A10 , May 12, 2000

Mandatory weekly drug testing for state prisoners & parolees

Gore proposed federal spending of $500 million a year to help states test, treat, and counsel prisoners & parolees for drug use. Inmates in state prison-mandatory testing already applies in federal prison-would not be released until they could pass drug tests. Further, parolees could be returned to prison if they failed the tests, which would be administered twice a week. Parolees would also be subjected to stricter supervision, to ensure that they paid child support, stayed off drugs, and found jobs.
Source: James Dao, New York Times, p. A18 , May 3, 2000

Drug treatment programs for every addict who wants one

Gore called for expanding drug treatment programs for non-criminals, though he offered no details. “I believe we should build a country in which every single addict who finds the power to reach out and say, ‘Now is the time I want help and I want treatment’ gets an immediate response,” he said.
Source: James Dao, New York Times, p. A18 , May 3, 2000

Lead a national crusade against drugs

Gore would fight for “get clean to get out” and “stay clean to stay out” drug policies to help cut down on crimes by repeat offenders. Gore would create a matching grant program to states and localities to help systematically test, treat and sanction probationers, prisoners and parolees. Gore would also lead a national crusade against drugs. Gore would expand the number of drug courts and fight for tougher drug penalties.
Source: Press Release , May 2, 2000

Loosen restrictions on medical marijuana

Breaking slightly with Clinton administration policy, Gore said he supports giving doctors greater flexibility to presribe marijuana to relieve patients’ pain. Otherwise, Gore closely adheres to the framework of current policy [which includes increasing Drug War spending to $18.9 billion this year].
Source: Boston Globe, p. A21 , Mar 5, 2000

Tougher drug policies; fight drugs in Colombia

Gore said he would push for “tougher drug penalties and enforcement,” would increase drug interdiction efforts, would expand drug courts and would institute a $2 billion national media campaign targeted at preventing youth from using drugs. He is supportive of the Colombia plan [which fight drugs via the Colombian military].
Source: Boston Globe, p. A21 , Mar 5, 2000

Did pot when young, like young people do

Gore said he used marijuana “when I came back from Vietnam, yes, but not”[a lot]. Gore said in 1987 that his use of marijuana, which began in college, had been “infrequent and rare.” Pressed further, Gore said: “When I was young, I did things young people do. When I grew up I put away childish things.”
Source: Washington Post, by Howard Kurtz & Ceci Connolly , Jan 24, 2000

Decrease disparities in punishing crack vs. powder cocaine

Al Gore all but said the laws that treat crack cocaine far more harshly than powdered cocaine should be eliminated. A person currently caught with 5 grams of crack cocaine would get the same 5-year sentence as a person caught with 500 grams of powder, a 100-to-1 ratio. The Senate voted to reduce the ratio to 10-to-1. But Gore said that is not enough. “The remaining disparities should be dealt with,” Gore said. The 100-to-1 law had become the top symbol of racism in the criminal INjustice system.
Source: Derrick Z. Jackson, Boston Globe editorial , Nov 19, 1999

Drug efforts are beginning to pay off; we must do more

Our administration has secured the largest anti-drug budgets in history, with more money for drug enforcement agents, for border & customs control, for education & outreach, for treatment & prevention. Our efforts have finally begun to pay off. Overall, drug use by adults has dropped to more than half of its highest levels in 1979. Even drug use by our young people, which seemed to be getting worse every year, has finally begun to decline. But we know that we’ve barely begun. We must do so much more.
Source: White House Briefing, Washington, DC , Feb 8, 1999

Community disconnectedness is a source of drug problems

To deal with the drug problem, we have to do more to expand opportunity, to create jobs for our young people, especially in communities that have too often been passed by in good times. That higher rate of drug abuse in minority communities and impoverished communities, I think, comes about partly because you have a higher vulnerability to feeling that sense of being disconnected and alienated and not a part of what can be possible in our future.
Source: White House Briefing, Washington, DC , Feb 8, 1999

Drug Control Strategy: More $, more enforcement, more TV ads

I am pleased to formally release our National Drug Control Strategy. It’s not a short-term plan designed to produce short-lived results; it is a comprehensive long-term strategy. It has more money for drug testing and treatment. It has better drug-law enforcement in our communities and better drug control on our borders. It has better anti-drug education for young people. Our plan is backed by the largest anti-drug budget ever-nearly $18 billion.
Source: White House Briefing, Washington, DC , Feb 8, 1999

After-school programs prevent most drug use

The hours between 2 & 6 are the most perilous hours of the day for our children. A teenager is most likely to take up smoking between the hours of 2 & 6. A teenager is most likely to do drugs and alcohol between the hours of 2 & 6. A teenager is most likely to get caught up in crime between the hours of 2 & 6. That means we must engage our children in positive, constructive activities between the hours of 2 & 6, [by expanding] access to quality after-school care for all our children.
Source: Speech to National PTA, “Protecting Our Children” , Mar 23, 1998

  • Click here for 4 older quotations from Al Gore on Drugs.
  • Click here for definitions & background information on Drugs.
  • Click here for VoteMatch responses by Al Gore.
  • Click here for AmericansElect.org quiz by Al Gore.
Other past presidents on Drugs: Al Gore on other issues:
Former Presidents:
George W. Bush(R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton(D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr.(R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan(R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter(D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford(R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon(R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson(D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy(D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower(R,1953-1961)
Harry S Truman(D,1945-1953)

Past Vice Presidents:
V.P.Dick Cheney
V.P.Al Gore
V.P.Dan Quayle
Sen.Bob Dole
V.P.Walter Mondale

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Page last updated: Dec 28, 2013