Hillary Clinton on Drugs

Secretary of State; previously Democratic Senator (NY)


$10B to prevent quiet epidemic of drug & alcohol addiction

Q: How would your administration address the growing opioid problem?

CLINTON: Our country is in the grips of a quiet epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction. To combat America's deadly epidemic of drug and alcohol addiction, I have proposed a $10 billion initiative, and laid out a series of goals to help communities across the country. We need to expand the Substance Abuse Prevention and Treatment block grant and support new federal-state partnerships targeting prevention, treatment, recovery, and other areas of reform. Finally, we must prioritize rehabilitation and treatment over prison for low-level and non-violent offenders. Jail time should not be a substitute for treatment. Working together, we can combat this epidemic and ensure that people across the country are getting the care they need to live long and healthy lives.

TRUMP: We first should stop the inflow of opioids into the United States. We can do that and we will in the Trump administration.

Source: ScienceDebate.org: 20 questions for 2016 presidential race , Oct 9, 2016

$1B per year to help states with opioid epidemic

Q: Despite an estimated trillion dollars spent, many say the war on drugs has failed. What would you do?

CLINTON: Everywhere I go to campaign, I'm meeting families who are affected by the drug problem that mostly is opioids and heroin now, and lives are being lost and children are being orphaned. So I have tried to come out with a comprehensive approach that does tell the states that we will work with you from the federal government putting more money, about a billion dollars a year, to help states have a different approach to dealing with this epidemic. Police officers must be equipped with the antidote to a heroin overdose or an opioid overdose, known as Narcan. They should be able to administer it. So should firefighters and others. We have to move away from treating the use of drugs as a crime and instead, move it to where it belongs, as a health issue. And we need to divert more people from the criminal justice system into drug courts, into treatment, and recovery.

Source: 2016 NBC Democratic debate , Jan 17, 2016

$10B plan for opiate addiction over 10 years

Heroin is a major epidemic. I've heard some great ideas about how law enforcement is changing its behavior, how the recovery community is reaching out. I've laid out a five-point plan. I would like the federal government to offer $10 billion over ten years to work with states. We need to do more on the prescribing end. There are too many opioids being prescribed, and that leads directly to heroin addiction. We need more programs, so when somebody is ready to get help, there's a place to go.
Source: 2015 ABC/WMUR Democratic primary debate in N.H. , Dec 19, 2015

Stop imprisoning marijuana users

Q: When asked about legalizing recreational marijuana, you said let's wait and see how it plays out in Colorado and Washington. It's been more than a year since you've said that. Are you ready to take a position tonight?

CLINTON: No. I think that we have the opportunity through the states that are pursuing recreational marijuana to find out a lot more than we know today. I do support the use of medical marijuana, and I think even there we need to do a lot more research so that we know exactly how we're going to help people for whom medical marijuana provides relief. So, I think we're just at the beginning, but I agree completely with the idea that we have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana. Therefore, we need more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this so that we don't have this terrible result of a huge population in our prisons for nonviolent, low-level offenses that are primarily due to marijuana.[1]

Source: 2015 CNN Democratic primary debate in Las Vegas , Oct 13, 2015

More drug diversion; more community policing

As a presidential candidate in 2008, I outlined proposals to reduce both crime and the size of our prison population. For example, tough but fair reforms of probation and drug diversion programs to deal swiftly with violations, while allowing nonviolent offenders who stay clean to stay out of prison. I called for putting more officers on our streets, with greater emphasis on community policing to build trust while fighting crime, as well as new support for specialized drug courts & juvenile programs.
Source: Brennan Center for Justice essays, p. 27 , Apr 28, 2015

Medical marijuana now; wait-and-see on recreational pot

When CNN hosted a town hall with Clinton last month, interviewer Christiane Amanpour asked her about marijuana. Clinton said she was "committing radical candor" in her answer, a reference to the newfound freedom she said she was enjoying. Clinton said it should be available medicinally for people with "extreme conditions" and that she wants to "wait and see" the evidence in states legalizing it for recreational use before taking a position.
Source: Politico.com, "Clinton Book Tour" , Jul 31, 2014

Medical marijuana maybe ok; states decide recreational use

[This week], New York lawmakers approved legislation that would make it the 23rd state in the country to permit medical marijuana use, according to the Marijuana Policy Project. Voters in Alaska and possibly Oregon will decide in November whether to join Colorado and Washington in allowing the sale of marijuana for recreational use.

As the momentum behind marijuana legalization grows, the issue is becoming inescapable for potential presidential contenders in 2016. The latest to weigh in was Hillary Clinton, who was asked about marijuana last week during her book tour. She seemed slightly more open to medical marijuana than she was during the 2008 campaign, saying it was appropriate in limited cases, but that more research was necessary.

"On recreational, you know, states are the laboratories of democracy," Mrs. Clinton told CNN interviewer Christiane Amanpour. "We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is."

Source: Beth Reinhard in Wall Street Journal, "Third Way" , Jun 14, 2014

Reduce sentencing disparity for crack, but not 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?

A: I believe we’ve got to decrease the disparity that exists. It is really unconscionable that someone who uses five grams of crack cocaine, compared to 500 grams of powder cocaine would face such disparate sentencing. And it’s further compounded because the possession of crack cocaine really is unique in the way that it leads directly to prison for so many people. So I am going to tackle the disparity. I think it definitely needs to be prospective on principle. I have problems with retroactivity. I think that it’s something that a lot of communities will be concerned about as well, so let’s tackle this disparity, let’s take it on. The sentencing commission hasn’t come forward yet with its specific recommendation but I’m looking forward to seeing it.

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

1969: held herself aloof from college drug counterculture

Hillary’s faith, or perhaps her personality or seriousness generally, must have been a contributing factor to her staying on the straight and narrow. She called herself “an ethical Christian,” physically aloof from the counterculture. Her college friends do not recall her smoking dope, dropping acid, drinking to excess, or tearing off her clothes during concerts. She did not imbibe the hedonism and drug culture of the period; she did not drop out. She at one time painted a flower on her arm and wore tie-dye clothes, and as surviving photos attest, looked like a girl of the sixties, but was no Janis Joplin.
Source: God and Hillary Clinton, by Paul Kengor, p. 34 , Jul 18, 2007

Divert non-violent drug offenders away from prison

We need diversion, like drug courts. Non-violent offenders should not be serving hard time in our prisons. They need to be diverted from our prison system. We need to make sure that we do deal with the distinction between crack and powder cocaine. And ultimately we need an attorney general and a system of justice that truly does treat people equally, and that has not happened under this administration.
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University , Jun 28, 2007

Address drug problem with treatment and special drug courts

Q: What is your approach to the “Drug War”?

CLINTON: I have spoken out on my belief that we should have drug courts that would serve as alternatives to the traditional criminal justice system for low-level offenders. If the person comes before the court, agrees to stay clean, is subjected to drug tests once a week, they are diverted from the criminal justice system. We need more treatment. It is unfair to urge people to get rid of their addiction and not have the treatment facilities when people finally makes up their minds to get treatment.

LAZIO: The truth is that under the Clinton administration, there has been a dramatic and troubling increase in drug abuse by our children. And that has not been addressed. I crossed party lines in 1994 and built a coalition of Republicans that passed the crime bill. If it were not for that, we would not have drug courts right now. We would not have community policing. We need to have somebody in Washington who has the ability to get the job done.

Source: Senate debate in Manhattan , Oct 8, 2000

Ambiguous reports of 1960s college alcohol & drug use

It was a time when most university students smoked pot, drank more heavily than people do today, and made the most of the pre-AIDS revolution. Though we know that Bill Clinton partied hard but never figured out how to inhale, the facts are less clear about Hillary. She was not known by any means as a heavy drinker or a pothead but as one classmate recalls “she’s not a super straight person. She was pretty socially relaxed.”
Source: The Inside Story, by Judith Warner, p. 58 , Aug 1, 1999

Involved parents most influential in reducing teen drug use

Some factors that increase the risk of substance abuse in adolescents deserve emphasis. Casual attitudes towards marijuana and minors’ access to cigarettes raise the likelihood that teenagers will make a sad progression to more serious drug use & earlier sexual activity. Dropping out of school puts the child at greater risk, as does having a parent who is an abuser of alcohol or drugs.

One reason my husband is adamant about curbing smoking is the fact that he learned firsthand in his own family, about the slippery slope that begins with the use of one addictive substance and leads to other destructive behaviors.

The characteristics that keep kids from using drugs are hard to quantify but not to understand. Children who truly grasp tha they have a choice to make in the matter are more likely to make a responsible one. So are children with high self-esteem. Most influential of all is the optimism & awareness that comes from knowing their parents are interested & involved in their lives.

Source: It Takes A Village, by Hillary Clinton, p.152-153 , Sep 25, 1996

End harsher sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine.

Clinton co-sponsored ending harsher sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine

A bill to target cocaine kingpins and address sentencing disparity between crack and powder cocaine.

Sponsor's introductory remarks: Sen. Biden: My bill will eliminate the current 100-to-1 disparity [between sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine] by increasing the 5-year mandatory minimum threshold quantity for crack cocaine to 500 grams, from 5 grams, and the 10-year threshold quantity to 5,000 grams, from 50 grams, while maintaining the current statutory mandatory minimum threshold quantities for powder cocaine. It will also eliminate the current 5-year mandatory minimum penalty for simple possession of crack cocaine, the only mandatory minimum sentence for simple possession of a drug by a first time offender.

Drug use is a serious problem, and I have long supported strong antidrug legislation. But in addition to being tough, our drug laws should be rational and fair. My bill achieves the right balance. We have talked about the need to address this cocaine sentencing disparity for long enough. It is time to act.

Congressional Summary:

Related bills: H.R.79, H.R.460, H.R.4545, S.1383, S.1685.
Source: Drug Sentencing Reform & Kingpin Trafficking Act (S.1711) 07-S1711 on Jun 27, 2007

Require chemical resellers to certify against meth use.

Clinton co-sponsored requiring chemical resellers to certify against meth use

Sen. FEINSTEIN: This act is designed to address problems that the Drug Enforcement Administration, DEA, has identified in the implementation of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act of 2005. The bill that I introduce today would:

The Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act that we passed last year has been a resounding success. The number of methamphetamine labs in the United States has declined dramatically now that the ingredients used to make methamphetamine are harder to get. Fewer meth labs means more than just less illegal drug production. In 2003, 3,663 children were reported exposed to toxic meth labs nationwide--but so far this year, the number of exposed children is only 319.

This is a common-sense bill, designed to strengthen the implementation of the Combat Methamphetamine Epidemic Act. This bill would create incentives to ensure that the self-certification process of the law is made both effective and enforceable. I urge my colleagues to support this legislation.

Source: Combat Methamphetamine Enhancement Act (S.2071) 2007-S2071 on Sep 19, 2007

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Page last updated: Nov 06, 2016