Rand Paul on Drugs



More rehabilitation and less incarceration

Q [to Senator Paul]: Governor Christie recently said, "if you're getting high in Colorado today," where marijuana has been legalized, "enjoy it until January 2017, because I will enforce the federal laws against marijuana." Will you?

PAUL: I think one of the great problems, and what American people don't like about politics, is hypocrisy. People have one standard for others and not for them--for themselves. The people going to jail for this are poor people, often African-Americans and often Hispanics, and yet the rich kids who use drugs aren't. I personally think that this is a crime for which the only victim is the individual, and I think that America has to take a different attitude. I would like to see more rehabilitation and less incarceration. I'm a fan of the drug courts which try to direct you back towards work and less time in jail.

CHRISTIE: N.J. says if you are non-violent, non-dealing drug user, you don't go to jail for your first offense. You go to mandatory treatment.

Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

Apply 10th Amendment to let states keep pot legal

Gov. CHRISTIE [to PAUL]: we shouldn't be legalizing gateway drugs. And if Senator Paul thinks that the only victim is the person, look at the decrease in productivity; their families are the victims too. That's why I'll enforce the federal law.

PAUL: I don't think that the federal government should override the states. I believe in the 10th Amendment and I really will say that the states are left to themselves. Understand what they're saying: Gov. Christie would go into Colorado, and if you're breaking any federal law on marijuana, even though the state law allows it, he would put you in jail. If a young mother is trying to give her child cannabis oil for medical marijuana for seizure treatment, he would put her in jail. I would let Colorado do what the Tenth Amendment says. We were never intended to have crime dealing at the federal level. Crime was supposed to be left to the states. Colorado has made their decision. And I don't want the federal government interfering.

Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

Pot laws result in poor kids going to jail & not rich kids

There is at least one prominent example of someone who says they smoked pot in high school, and yet the people going to jail for this are poor people, often African-Americans and often Hispanics, and yet the rich kids who use drugs aren't. I think the war on drugs has had a racial outcome, and really has been something that has damaged our inner cities. Not only do the drugs damage them, we damage them again by incarcerating them and then preventing them from getting employment over time.
Source: 2015 Republican two-tiered primary debate on CNN , Sep 16, 2015

End hypocrisy and over-criminalization of marijuana

[In a CPAC interview] Rand Paul offered backhanded advice to Jeb Bush: "Younger voters in particular don't like hypocrisy. Him saying recently down in Florida that he would still incarcerate people even for medical marijuana, and then it turns out--him basically acknowledging that he'd been using recreational marijuana as a kid. I don't think anybody faults him for youthful indiscretions. But if you look at the people who end up getting caught up in the war on drugs, they're often not elite kids at prep schools. They're poor kids with no school."

Paul said conservatives need to reach beyond traditional audiences like gun-rights defenders to anyone who has been mistreated by Big Government, including "businesses mistreated by Big Government regulations" and "poor people mistreated by Big Government and over-criminalization."

Source: Poltiico.com on 2015 Conservative Political Action Conf. , Feb 26, 2015

Jailing people for 10 years for marijuana is ridiculous

Q: Tell me a couple of things that Republicans and Democrats could work together on.

PAUL: One of the things I have talked to the president about is criminal justice reform. This means extending back the right to vote for people who made youthful nonviolent mistakes, expunging their records, trying to make it easier for them to find employment. I think put somebody in jail for 10 years for possession of marijuana or sale of marijuana is ridiculous. Some people are in jail for life. So, I have called the president, and I have told him, I agree with commuting some of these sentences, lessening some of these sentences, treating it more as a health issue. So, I think people's opinions on criminal justice for nonviolent drug crimes has changed. That is something we could do together.

Source: Face the Nation 2014 interview: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Nov 2, 2014

Whites & blacks use drugs, but prisons are full of blacks

In the past two months, Paul has introduced a series of bills designed to reform the criminal justice system. The bills would abolish mandatory minimum sentences, restore voting rights to some convicted felons, help people expunge their criminal records and downgrade some felonies to misdemeanors. All of Paul's proposals would benefit minorities that Paul said have been impacted by the "war on drugs." Paul said, "Even though whites used drugs at the same rate as black kids, the prisons are full of black kids and brown kids. There are Republicans trying to correct this injustice."

In February, Paul pressed Republicans in the Kentucky Senate to pass a bill that would restore voting rights to some convicted felons. It ultimately failed.

Paul plans to talk about those issues in a speech Friday at the National Urban League's annual conference in Cincinnati. He said his ideas have been well received in minority communities because "people are ready for something to happen."

Source: Washington Times 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jul 24, 2014

War on drugs has unintentionally had a racial outcome

Q: African-Americans, percentage-wise, certainly make up a larger percentage of folks being incarcerated. I think the NAACP has estimated about a third of young black males are in jail.

PAUL: Three out of four people in prison are black or brown for nonviolent drug use. However, when you do surveys, white kids are doing drugs at an equal rate, and they are a much bigger part of the population. So, why are the prisons full of black and brown kids? It is easier to arrest them. It is easier to convict them. They don't get as good of attorneys. And, frankly, they live in the city more than in the suburbs, and so the police are patrolling the city more. But it is unfair. The war on drugs has had a racial outcome, unintentionally, but it has a racial outcome. And I want to try to fix it.

Q: And your bill does change some drug laws in order to try to even out the punishment for similar drugs?

PAUL: Yes.

Source: CNN SOTU 2014 interview series: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Jun 22, 2014

Don't promote marijuana but don't jail non-violent criminals

Q: You would like to relax some of the laws for people who possess and are smoking marijuana, and synthetic recreational drugs. Why?

PAUL: The main thing I've said is not to legalize them but not to incarcerate people for extended periods of time. With Senator Leahy, we have a bill on mandatory minimums. There are people in jail for 50 years for nonviolent crimes. And that's a huge mistake. Our prisons are full of nonviolent criminals. I don't want to encourage people to do it. Marijuana takes away your incentive to work. I don't want to promote that but I also don't want to put people in jail who make the mistake. There are a lot of young people who do this and then later on, they get married and they quit; I don't want to put them in jail and ruin their lives. The last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use, and it would have ruined their lives. They got lucky, but a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don't get lucky.

Source: Fox News Sunday 2013 interviews: 2016 presidential hopefuls , Mar 24, 2013

Tackle drug problem; no one cares where funding comes from

Q: In August you said about drug abuse in Kentucky, "I don't think it's a real pressing issue." You also said drug enforcement should be funded at the state level.

PAUL: As a physician and a father, I've always been concerned about drug abuse. And that was actually a misquote; what I actually said was I don't think people are concerned about where the funding comes from. They want the problem tackled. There's always a debate between how much is federal and how much is state. All I said is that like mos problems, I think the more local control, the better. The more the decisions are made by sheriffs and local communities, the better chance we have of fixing the problem.

Q: What about Operate UNITE, a federal program which has spent $16 million over th last two years to fight drug abuse in the state of Kentucky? Would you shut that down?

PAUL: No, but what I would say is here's the problem. [Conway] wants to talk about drugs all the time. Under his watch the meth labs have doubled in the state.

Source: Fox News Sunday, 2010 Kentucky Senate debate , Oct 3, 2010

Community treatment instead of federal anti-drug programs

Rand Paul is sticking with his position that communities--not federal programs--should take the lead in stemming drug abuse & providing treatment for addicts.

Paul was asked whether public sentiment might change his mind about supporting federal fundin for drug programs, such as Operation UNITE. That program, paid for with federal funds, coordinates law enforcement agencies for undercover drug busts and provides resources for treatment mostly in Eastern Kentucky. He said a candidate should stick to his positions.

Paul has said he favors handling the issue locally rather than sending tax dollars to Washington that come back in the form of Operation UNITE or other programs. Earlier this week, he held a press conference at the Wingshadow Lodge, a facility aimed at helping men recover from addition. The facility is part of the faith-based Teen Challenge program.

Jack Conway has been hammering Paul on the issue of drugs for the last two weeks as he seeks to paint Paul as out-of-touch.

Source: Cn2politics coverage of 2010 Kentucky Senate debate , Aug 26, 2010

Drug abuse isn't a pressing issue; 10-20 years is too harsh

Spurred by Rand Paul's suggestion that drug abuse isn't "a real pressing issue" in the Senate race, Jack Conway spotlighted Kentucky's "epidemic" of prescription pill abuse that is costing lives and overloading the courts and prisons with addicts who tur to crime to fund their habits.

Paul said he prefers local initiatives over federally based responses to combat drug trafficking. Paul has said he would cut federal funding for undercover drug investigations and drug treatment programs in Appalachia, a hotbed for marijuana growers and drug dealers selling prescription pills and methamphetamines. He told The Associated Press recently that he doesn't think drug abuse is "a real pressing issue" in the Senate race, suggesting that voters are more concerned about fiscal and social concerns.

Paul has called drug sentences of 10 to 20 years too harsh. While he has said he opposes the legalization of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes, he believes it should be up to individual states to decide the issue.

Source: Associated Press coverage of 2010 Kentucky Senate debate , Aug 23, 2010

Favors legalizing medical marijuana

How conservative is he? The 47-year-old Paul wants to abolish the federal departments of education, commerce and energy, as well as the income tax.

Like Palin, with whom Paul now stands atop the Tea Party cake, he is opposed to all government bailouts and earmarks, and President Obama's "socialist" health care law. He favors a constitutional amendment banning abortion, even in cases of rape and incest.

But in a libertarian twist, he also favors legalizing medical marijuana.

Source: David Saltonstall in Daily News, "New Hero of Tea Party" , May 20, 2010

Exclude industrial hemp from definition of marijuana.

Paul co-sponsored Industrial Hemp Farming Act

Sponsor's Remarks:
Rep. PAUL: Nine States allow industrial hemp production or research in accord with State laws. However, Federal law is standing in the way of farmers in these States growing what may be a very profitable crop. Because of current Federal law, all hemp included in products sold in the US must be imported instead of being grown by American farmers. Since 1970, the federal Controlled Substances Act's inclusion of industrial hemp in the "schedule one" definition of marijuana has prohibited American farmers from growing industrial hemp despite the fact that industrial hemp has such a low content of THC (the psychoactive chemical in the related marijuana plant) that nobody can be psychologically affected by consuming hemp.

The US is the only industrialized nation that prohibits industrial hemp cultivation. Industrial hemp is a crop that was grown legally throughout the US for most of our Nation's history. In fact, during World War II, the Federal Government actively encouraged American farmers to grow industrial hemp to help the war effort. It is unfortunate that the Federal Government has stood in the way of American farmers competing in the global industrial hemp market. Indeed, the founders of our Nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited Government.

Source: HR1831/S3501/HR525(2013) 12-S3501 on Aug 2, 2012

Exempt industrial hemp from marijuana laws.

Paul signed Industrial Hemp Farming Act

Congressional Summary:Amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of "marihuana." Defines "industrial hemp" to mean the plant Cannabis sativa and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3%.

Argument in favor (Sen. Ron Wyden):

Members of Congress hear a lot about how dumb regulations are hurting economic growth and job creation. The current ban on growing industrial hemp is hurting job creation in rural America and increasing our trade deficit. This bill will end this ridiculous regulation. Right now, the US is importing over $10 million in hemp products--a crop that US farmers could be profitably growing right here at home, if not for government rules prohibiting it. Now, even though hemp and marijuana come from the same species of plant, there are major differences between them. The Chihuahua and St. Bernard come from the same species, too, but no one is going to confuse them.

Argument in opposition (Drug Enforcement Agency):

Argument in opposition (DrugWatch.org 10/30/2013):

Source: S.359/H.R.525 14_S0359 on Feb 14, 2013

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Page last updated: Mar 24, 2016