Bill Weld on Drugs

Former Republican Governor; former Senate candidate (MA)


Tighten opioid prescription rules to keep them off streets

Q: What about regulation of opioids? Do you favor any of the steps that have been taken recently by the FDA and others to tighten the distribution of opioids and pain medication?

JOHNSON: Tightening leads to abuse. The tightening of these restrictions by the FDA ends up criminalizing the activity and these products do kill people.

WELD: You're referring to trying to get less Oxycontin flooding the market?

Q: Yes.

WELD: That's a good idea.

JOHNSON: The reality is that you end up depriving some people of the real need to relieve their pain so it ends up criminalizing a lot of activity. I wish there were alternatives to the opioids, which marijuana does fill that role, and that would be a safer [way].

WELD: Maybe that's your answer. I think what Gov. Charlie Baker has been working on in Massachusetts [establishing a 7-day limit on first-time opioid prescriptions] is a good model. It's along those same lines.

Source: Washington Post joint interview of Johnson & Weld , Jul 7, 2016

Substance abuse cases should not go to criminal prison

Q: What about drug treatment for drug addiction?

WELD: The trend which I think is salutary--that society is coming to view people who have serious issues with either narcotics or alcohol, that that is a public health emergency and it's not a status crime which it has been treated as. There's some movement away from incarcerating people for possessory narcotics offenses and treating that as a public health issue. In Massachusetts, for example, women who have substance abuse cases are no longer taken to criminal prison. They're taken to civil commitment facilities. And that's part of, I think, lessening the pressure all around drugs, in getting them out of the shadows.

JOHNSON: Needle exchange programs in states that reduce HIV and Hepatitis C--very controversial, but the bottom line is that it saves lives.

WELD: Boy, I came out for those when I was governor and did I get murdered.

Source: 2016 CNN Libertarian Town Hall with Gary Johnson & Bill Weld , Jun 22, 2016

Favors medical marijuana and needle-exchange programs

Although he has favored medical marijuana and needle-exchange programs, he does not, as is occasionally assumed, support drug legalization and has bragged about prosecuting "drug thugs" while serving in the Reagan Justice Department.
Source: W. James Antle III in Spectator Magazine , Aug 25, 2005

Favors "clean" needle giveaways to drug addicts

William Weld, champion of liberalized drug laws, has been nominated as U.S. Ambassador to Mexico by President Clinton. Senator Jesse Helms (R-NC), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and staunch defender of faith, freedom and family, has refused, on the basis of Weld's record, to conduct a hearing on the nomination.[Sen. Helms won the battle and Gov. Weld was never appointed Ambassador].

[Helms press release]: WELD SOFT ON DRUGS

President Clinton's nomination of Governor William Weld to be Ambassador to Mexico is bad for America and bad for the Republican Party. It is bad for America because Weld is soft on drugs. He favors legalization of marijuana in some cases and "clean" needle giveaways to drug addicts. Making him the U.S. representative in Mexico sends the wrong message to that country at the same time we are urging Mexicans to get tough on the drugs pouring across our southern border. It is bad for the Republican Party because it highlights the split in party ranks.

Source: RNC For Life Op-Ed against Weld's ambassadorial nomination , Aug 11, 1997

Less welfare for drug users; tougher sentences for offenders

A high school student asked the candidates to lay out specific plans to reduce marijuana use among minors. "You need massive education," said Kerry, who reiterated his support for after-school programs in public schools to keep kids off the streets.

In response, Weld went after his opponent, accusing Kerry of funding welfare payments to drug users. "You're not doing the addicts any favors if you're giving them cash," the governor said. Kerry denied the charge.

Weld said his solution to the state's drug problem includes tougher sentences for drug offenders and education programs aimed at seven- to nine-year-olds.

Source: Harvard Crimson on Kerry/Weld debates , Oct 19, 1996

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Page last updated: Aug 22, 2016