John Kerry on Drugs

Jr Senator (MA), Democratic nominee for President


1986: Nicaraguan Contras support network of drug trafficking

In 1986, an FBI information inside the Medellin cartel testified that she's seen the organization loading cocaine onto aircraft that belonged to Southern Air Transport, a company that used to be owned by the CIA and was flying supplies to the Contras. There was strong corroboration for her story, but somehow the Justice Department rejected it as inconclusive. Senator John Kerry started looking into all this and said at one closed-door committee meeting: "It is clear that there is a network of drug trafficking through the Contras. We can produce specific law enforcement officials who will tell you that they have been calle off drug trafficking investigations because the CIA is involved or because it would threaten national security."

All this, remember, while we're spending millions supposedly fighting the "war on drugs," a phrase first coined by Nixon in 1969.

Source: American Conspiracies, by Jesse Ventura, p.117 , Mar 8, 2010

Target traffickers as well as reducing demand

In order to deal with the problem of illegal drugs in this country, efforts must be focused on keeping drugs out of the country and our communities, as well as reducing demand for illegal drugs. John Kerry supports aggressively targeting traffickers and dealers, as well as making a commitment to sufficiently fund drug prevention and treatment programs.
Source: 2004 Senate campaign website, JohnKerry.com, “Issues” , Mar 21, 2004

1967: Skeptical of the illicit drug culture

[While in the Navy in San Francisco in 1967] Kerry assayed a couple of Friday night rock concerts at venues like the legendary Fillmore Auditorium, where they stood dumbstruck by the pulsating strobe lights, back-projected lava-lamp color blobs, and Day- Glo body-painted dancers. It was jarring to move from a military base to the emerging hippie culture. It was not their scene, to say the least. Kerry harbored a fundamental skepticism for the counterculture in general, & its enthusiasm for illicit drugs in particular. "I wouldn't have been a part of his life if he had even a touch of the hippie in him," his future wife Julia Thorne declared.

"The drug culture was not for me." What Kerry disapproved of most about the hippies, however, was their "sloppy thinking." He found their political views simplistic and self-indulgent. "I didn't like their style, their message. I was in a different place. I mean, I was against the war, but I didn't like either their social or cultural or political agenda."

Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p. 69-70 , Jan 6, 2004

Never touched marijuana nor opium while in Vietnam

Kerry's favorite group was the Doors. The psychedelic Los Angeles band had taken its name from British author Aldous Huxley's "The Doors of Perception," a 1954 account of his experiments with hallucinogens. Kerry, however, never touched drugs in Vietnam. "I like the lyrical intensity of The Doors," he explained. "Morrison was a poet, in my opinion. The drug part didn't interest me."

Indeed, every man he served with maintained that Kerry never took so much as a puff of marijuana, which he, in fact, banned from his boats even on trips to Saigon. It troubled Kerry how easily available opium was throughout Southeast Asia, and its popularity among US servicemen there downright sickened him. Although Kerry claimed never to have seen anyone use the narcotic, a 1974 US Office for Drug Abuse Prevention study would report that a staggeringly high percentage of US servicemen surveyed admitted having "commonly used" heroin in Vietnam.

Source: Tour of Duty, by Douglas Brinkley, p.267-8 , Jan 6, 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: Steven Holmes, NY Times, on 2004 election , Nov 9, 2003

Colombia is entirely criminalized by drug cartels

Criminalization of an entire country is still only a threat in Russia and China; in Colombia, home of the world’s most powerful global criminals, it is a daily reality.

Drugs have made Colombia rich; the nation is awash in profits earned by the export of cocaine to the US and the rest of the world. But the country has been all but stolen from its people, virtually taken over by the drug cartels.

Many legitimate businesses have been pushed out of the economy; businesspeople cannot always afford to care about whether their cash flow--or their financial backing--is dirty or clean. Legitimate agriculture has been pressured too; coffee is less attractive to grow when coca is so much more profitable. A willing army of young Colombians enlist with the cartels, dreaming of easy money, while some young Colombians join the police, army, and customs department just to make money by cooperating with drug criminals.

Source: The New War, by John Kerry, p. 72 , Jun 1, 1998

Cali cocaine cartel can't coexist with democracy in Colombia

Cali not only ensures the integrity of its worldwide distribution system, it also guarantees the quality of its product--acting more like a corporation than a gang. If the cocaine is not sufficiently pure, the product can be returned and the money will be refunded.

Cocaine is smuggled in stealth-like semi-submersibles that are capable of transporting a few tons of cocaine over 1,000 miles and thus can enter any country, including the US, without having to cross a port of entry. Cali has several of these.

In some ways, those submersibles are perfect symbols of the Cali cartel's approach. Unlike the dramatically violent Escobar, it stealthily smuggles its products and insinuates itself into "respectability." But the differences are ultimately illusory. The Cali cartel is an empire based on murder and the cocaine-induced destruction of the human spirit. The Cali cartel cannot coexist with a democratic government. Between them there can be no negotiations, for in the end, only one can survive.

Source: The New War, by John Kerry, p. 78-79 , Jun 1, 1998

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

Voted NO on spending international development funds on drug control.

Vote to add an additional $53 million (raising the total to $213 million) to international narcotics control funding, and pay for it by taking $25 million from international operations funding and $28 million from development assistance.
Reference: Bill HR 3540 ; vote number 1996-244 on Jul 25, 1996

End harsher sentencing for crack vs. powder cocaine.

Kerry 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.

Kerry 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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