John Edwards on Drugs

2004 Democratic Nominee for Vice President; Former Jr Senator (NC)

Reduce sentencing disparity for crack cocaine retroactively

Q: The US Sentencing Commission recently limited the disparity in sentencing guidelines for those convicted of crimes involving crack cocaine versus crimes involving powder cocaine. Should that change be retroactive?

CLINTON: I believe we’ve got to decrease the disparity that exists. But I have problems with retroactivity.

DODD: I’d be inclined to say yes on the retroactivity.

EDWARDS: I’m not just inclined to say yes; the answer is yes, absolutely; it should be retroactive.


Source: 2007 Iowa Brown & Black Presidential Forum Dec 1, 2007

Oppose decriminalizing marijuana; it sends wrong signal

Decriminalizing marijuana sends the wrong signal to young people. The president of the US has a responsibility to ensure that we’re sending the right signals to young people.
Source: 2007 Democratic debate at Drexel University Oct 30, 2007

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

Do not lower drinking age from 21 to 18

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. I think you need a dual approach: strong law enforcement, 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.

KUCINICH: Of course they should be able to drink at age 18, and they should be able to vote at age 16.

Q: No on 18?


EDWARDS: What was the question?

Q: Lower the drinking age to 18?

EDWARDS: I would not.

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

Help convicts with drug counseling & job counseling

Changing mandatory minimum, changing the disparity between crack and powder cocaine--those things are correct. But can we also create an infrastructure for success for those who are charged and convicted for the first time, so that we help them with drug counseling, job counseling, job training, education--help them get the back into the community with some chance of changing their lives.
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007

Supports drug courts and alternatives to incarceration

I support keeping drugs out of the United States and vigorous prosecution of drug sales. I also support greater funding for drug treatment and alternatives to incarceration for nonviolent offenders such as drug courts.
Source: 2004 Presidential National Political Awareness Test Mar 3, 2004

Disparity in penalty for crack vs. powder is not justified

Improve Drug Sentencing: Today, a drug user with the same amount of cocaine is punished very differently depending on the type of cocaine - for crack cocaine the penalty is 100 times greater than for powder cocaine. This disparity is not justified. Edwards will address this disparity while at the same time imposing harsher sentences on drug crimes involving weapons, violence, or other aggravating circumstances.
Source: Campaign website, JohnEdwards.com, “Real Solutions” Jan 1, 2004

Admits having smoked marijuana

At the “Rock the Vote” debate, the moderator inevitably asked,. “Which of you are ready to admit to having used marijuana in the past?”

“Yes,” said John Kerry, leading off. “Yes,” said John Edwards . “Yes,” said Howard Dean. None of these three baby-boomer candidates said anything beyond their short, declarative affirmations. None followed with a hurried explanation that it was just a few times, that it was some kind of “youthful indiscretion,” or that he didn’t inhale. The implication of their answers seemed to be, “Yeah, so what?”

In fact, the defensive answers tended to come from those replying in the negative. “No,” said Dennis Kucinich. “But I think it ought to be decriminalized.”

“I grew up in the church,” said Al Sharpton. “We didn’t believe in that.”

“I have a reputation for giving unpopular answers,” said Joe Lieberman. “I never used marijuana. Sorry!”

In the next day’s news coverage, the admissions of marijuana smoking were largely ignored.

Source: [X-ref Kerry] Steven Holmes, NY Times Nov 9, 2003

Voted NO on increasing penalties for drug offenses.

Vote to increase penalties on certain drug-related crimes. The amendment would specifically target the manufacturing or trafficking of amphetamines & methamphetamines and possession of powder cocaine, and set stronger penalties for dealing drugs
Reference: Bill S.625 ; vote number 1999-360 on Nov 10, 1999

Rated B- by VOTE-HEMP, indicating a pro-hemp voting record.

Edwards scores B- by VOTE-HEMP on pro-hemp legalization policies

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.

Source: VOTE-HEMP website 02n-HEMP on Dec 31, 2003

Other candidates on Drugs: John Edwards on other issues:
GOP: Sen.John McCain
GOP V.P.: Gov.Sarah Palin
Democrat: Sen.Barack Obama
Dem.V.P.: Sen.Joe Biden

Third Parties:
Constitution: Chuck Baldwin
Libertarian: Rep.Bob Barr
Constitution: Amb.Alan Keyes
Liberation: Gloria La Riva
Green: Rep.Cynthia McKinney
Socialist: Brian Moore
Independent: Ralph Nader
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Page last updated: Feb 08, 2010