Mike Gravel on Drugs

Libertarian for President; Former Democratic Senator (AK)

War on drugs is a total failure

On certain facets of social policy, Gravel happily goes out on a limb that the mainstream candidates, whatever their personal views, would never dare test. On the war on drugs: “I think the American people realize the war on drugs is a total failure--waste of time, waste of money. What’s wrong with marijuana? You can go out to buy a fifth of gin and do more damage to yourself.”
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.197-198 Nov 11, 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: [Xref Edwards] 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth Sep 6, 2007

Lower drinking age from 21 to 18 so soldiers can drink

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

Allow buying marijuana at liquor stores

We have to address the whole drug issue. I see no reason between marijuana and booze or alcohol, and there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to go to a liquor store and buy marijuana. It has recuperative powers.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

Decriminalize hard drugs so we can treat addicts

With hard drugs, what you should do is you decriminalize it. You turn around and treat it like a health issue that it is. And so people who want hard drugs -- let them go to a doctor; let them get a prescription. Then we can record them and be ready to help them when they’re ready to be helped. The way it is now, we fill up our prisons. It’s the shame of this country that we have 2,300,000 human beings in prison. Half of them shouldn’t even be there.
Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

Drug War failing now, like Prohibition failed in 1920s

Is there anybody that doesn’t know the social failure of Prohibition in the 1920s that criminalized our society, that caused people to lose respect for the law? That’s what we’re doing all over again. It’s been 25 years that we’ve been waging this war on drugs, and it’s an absolute failure.

What’s ravaging the inner cities? It is the drug war--not the drugs--the drug war & all of the [associated] activity. Where is the leadership to end this? FDR had the guts to end it back in 1933. I will end it now.

Source: 2007 HRC/LOGO debate on gay issues Aug 9, 2007

Drugs are public health issue, not criminal issue

One of the areas that touches me the most and enrages me the most is our war on drugs that this country has been putting forth for the last generation. In 1972, we had 179,000 human beings in jail in this country; today, it’s 2.3 million, and 70% are African-Americans.

And I hope my colleagues will join me in standing up and saying, like FDR did with Prohibition, “We’ll do away with that.” And FDR did it. And if I’m president, I will do away with the war on drugs, which does nothing but savage our inner cities and put our children at risk.

There’s no reason for this. There’s not an American that doesn’t understand the culture and the understanding that Prohibition was a failure, and so we repeat it again like we repeated Iraq after we had the failure of Vietnam. When will we learn? When we learn that the issue of drugs is a public health issue. Addiction is a public health issue, not a criminal issue where we throw people in jail and criminalize them to no advancement to the people.

Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007

FactCheck: Only 40% of inmates are black; not 70% as claimed

Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel gave a vastly inflated statistic about the incarceration of African Americans. Gravel said, “In 1972, we had 179,000 human beings in jail in this country; today, it’s 2.3 million, and 70% are black, African Americans.”

Gravel got part of that right. According to the Justice Department, there are nearly 2.3 million people incarcerated as of June 2006. But nowhere near 70% of inmates are African American--the correct number is 40%.

Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard U. Jun 28, 2007

War on drugs loses an entire generation to our prisons

We are losing an entire generation of young men & women to our prisons. Our nation’s ineffective & wasteful “war on drugs” plays a major role in this. We must place a greater emphasis on rehabilitation & prevention. We must de-criminalize minor drug offenses & increase the availability & visibility of substance abuse treatment & prevention in our communities as well as in prisons.

We must increase the use of special drug courts in which addicted offenders are given the opportunity to complete court supervised substance abuse treatment instead of being sentenced to prison. Drug defendants convicted of nonviolent offenses should be given alternative penalties [instead of] mandatory prison sentences. We should emphasize the criminalization of the importers, manufacturers, and major distributors, rather than just the street venders. Prisons in this country should be a legitimate criminal sanction -- but it should be an extension of a fair, just and wise society.

Source: Campaign website, www.gravel2008.us, “Issues” May 23, 2007

Legalize the use and possession of marijuana

Senator Gravel advocates for the legalization of the use and possession of marijuana and ending the war on drugs and treating drugs as a medical problem rather than a criminal problem.
Source: Wikipedia.org article on Mike Gravel campaign Feb 26, 2007

Other candidates on Drugs: Mike Gravel 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