Ron Paul on Drugs
Republican Representative (TX-14); previously Libertarian for President
PAUL: Yes. Definitely. There is a disparity. It's not that it is my opinion, it is very clear. Blacks and minorities who are involved with drugs, are arrested disproportionately. They are tried and imprisoned disproportionately. They suffer the consequence of the death penalty disproportionately. Rich white people don't get the death penalty very often. And most of these are victimless crimes. Sometimes people can use drugs and arrested three times and never committed a violent act and they can go to prison for life. I think there's discrimination in the system, but you have to address the drug war. I would say the judicial system is probably one of the worst places where prejudice and discrimination still exists in this country.
PAUL: I think that's another war we ought to cancel, because it's to nobody's benefit. And that's where the violence is coming from.
Q: Does that mean legalize all these drugs?
PAUL: I think the federal war on drugs is a total failure. You can at least let sick people have marijuana because it's helpful, but compassionate conservatives say, well, we can't do this--the federal government's going in there and overriding state laws and putting people like that in prison. Why don't we handle the drugs like we handle alcohol? Alcohol is a deadly drug. The real deadly drugs are the prescription drugs. They kill a lot more people than the illegal drugs. The drug war is out of control. I fear the drug war because it undermines our civil liberties. It magnifies our problems on the borders. We spent, over the last 40 years, $1 trillion on this war. And believe me, the kids can still get the drugs. It just hasn't worked.
But there is a mess down there, and it's a big mess. And it's the drug war that's going on there. And our drug laws are driving this. So now we're killing thousands and thousands of people. That makes it much more complicated.
A: It's an issue of protecting liberty across the board. If you have the inconsistency, then you're really not defending liberty. We want freedom [including] when it comes to our personal habits.
Q: Are you suggesting that heroin and prostitution are an exercise of liberty?
A: Yes, in essence, if we leave it to the states. For over 100 years, they WERE legal. You're implying if we legalize heroin tomorrow, everyone's gonna use heroin.
How many people here are going to use heroin if it were legal? I bet nobody! "Oh yeah, I need the government to take care of me. I don't want to use heroin, so I need these laws!"
A: I never thought heroin would get applause!
A: Yeah. Itís sort of like alcohol. Alcoholís a deadly drug, kills more people than anything else. And today the absurdity on this war on drugs has just been horrible. Now the federal government takes over and overrules states where state laws permit medicinal marijuana 1 for people dying of cancer. The federal government goes in and arrests these people, put them in prison with mandatory sentences. This war on drugs is totally out of control. If you want to regulate cigarettes and alcohol and drugs, it should be at the state level. Thatís where I stand on it. The federal government has no prerogatives on this.
Q: But you would decriminalize it?
A: I would, at the federal level. I donít have control over the states. And thatís why the Constitutionís there.
A: I would like to believe that if we had a freer society, it would take care of Blacks and whites and everybody equally because weíre all individuals. To me, that is so important. But if we had equal justice under the law, I think it would be a big improvement. If we had probably a repeal of most of the federal laws on drugs and the unfairness on how Blacks are treated with these drugs laws, it would be a tremendous improvement. And also, I think that if youíre going to have prosperity, it serves everybody. And if this is done by emphasizing property rights and freedom of the individuals, making sure that the powerful special interests donít control Washington, that the military industrial complex doesnít suck away all the wealth of the country, and then we would have prosperity.
A: A system designed to protect individual liberty will have no punishments for any group and no privileges. Today, I think inner-city folks and minorities are punished unfairly in the war on drugs. For instance, Blacks make up 14% of those who use drugs, yet 36 percent of those arrested are Blacks and it ends up that 63% of those who finally end up in prison are Blacks. This has to change. We donít have to have more courts and more prisons. We need to repeal the whole war on drugs. It isnít working. We have already spent over $400 billion since the early 1970s, and it is wasted money. Prohibition didnít work. Prohibition on drugs doesnít work. So we need to come to our senses. And, absolutely, itís a disease. We donít treat alcoholics like this. This is a disease, and we should orient ourselves to this. That is one way you could have equal justice under the law.
What it does, it removes the ability to states to do their things, and also introduces the idea that itís the federal government that will get to decide whether we get to take vitamins, and alternative medical care, or whatever. Most of our history, believe it or not, had no drug laws. Prohibition has been an absolute failure for alcohol. Drug addiction is a medical problem. Itís not a problem of the law.
The drug war encourages violence. Government violence against nonviolent users is notorious and has led to the unnecessary prison overpopulation. Innocent taxpayers are forced to pay for all this so-called justice. Our drug eradication project (using spraying) around the world, from Colombia to Afghanistan, breeds resentment because normal crops and good land can be severely damaged. Local populations perceive that the efforts and the profiteering remain somehow beneficial to our own agenda in these various countries.
The drug craze reflects the desperate feeling of many. Young people remains skeptical of a generation that kills ten times as many with alcohol as with hard drugs and yet pontificates about the dangers of smoking marijuana. Lack of consistency never contributes to credibility.
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.
VOTE HEMP is a non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for Industrial Hemp. Industrial Hemp is non-psychoactive low THC varieties of the cannabis sativa plant. Currently, it is illegal for U.S. farmers to grow Industrial Hemp because it is improperly classified as a "drug" under the Controlled Substances Act. Since changes in law require shifts in thinking and this requires education in the facts, our primary goal is the education of legislators and regulators, farmers and businesses, students and other concerned citizens.
OnTheIssues.org interprets the 2006 NORML scores as follows:
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.
This bill amends the Higher Education Act of 1965 to repeal the provisions prohibiting persons convicted of drug offenses from receiving student financial assistance.
To prohibit the expenditure of Federal funds for the distribution of needles or syringes for the hypodermic injection of illegal drugs. Amends the Public Health Service Act to prohibit Federal funds from being expended to carry out any program of distributing sterile needles or syringes for the hypodermic injection of illegal drugs.
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.
Amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of "marihuana." Defines "industrial hemp" to mean the plant Cannabis sativa L. and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a delta-nine tetrahydrocannabinol concentration that does not exceed 0.3% on a dry weight basis. Grants a state regulating the growing and processing of industrial hemp exclusive authority, in any criminal or civil action or administrative proceeding, to determine whether any such plant meets that concentration limit.
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