Ron Paul debates Stephen Baldwin on Ending the War on Drugs

In Friday night’s debate with Stephen Baldwin on Larry King Live, Ron Paul makes the case for ending the failed War on Drugs, legalizing marijuana, and allowing individual states, as opposed to the federal government, to regulate drugs.

Poll: Who won the debate on ending the War on Drugs?

Ron Paul: 1,540 votes (95%)
Stephen Baldwin: 30 votes (2%)
It was a draw: 55 votes (3%)

Total Votes: 1,625

The poll was open from March 14, 2009 – May 20, 2009

Show: Larry King Live
Host: Joy Behar
Date: 3/13/2009


Joy Behar: Michael Phelps finally spoke out publically about the bong photo seen around the world. Here’s what he told Matt Lauer on The Today Show.

Michael Phelps: We were just celebrating honestly. It was just a small group and we were sitting around and celebrating.

Matt Lowler: You know, I have to ask you: Were you smoking pot?

Michael Phelps: It was a bad mistake. I mean, we all know what you and I are talking about. It was a stupid mistake and a bad judgment.

Joy Behar: Should Marijuana be legalized? We’ll debate the pros and cons right now. In the anti-legalization camp is actor Stephen Baldwin and on the pro side is Congressman from Texas, Ron Paul. He was a presidential candidate and Paul has sponsored hemp related legislation. Gentlemen, round one. Okay, what’s your reaction to the hoo-hah over the Phelps photo? Ron?

Ron Paul: I’m sorry, over the what?

Joy Behar: Over the photo, the Michael Phelps photo. What was your reaction to all of that what happened with Michael Phelps? I mean he basically lost a lot of his endorsements.

Ron Paul: Oh, Michael Phelps, well the whole thing I think is a mess. It’s outrageous. I think we’re getting carried away with the whole War on Drugs. That’s how silly the whole thing gets. Drugs are very dangerous, but there are a lot of things that are very dangerous. The question here is, who should regulate danger? Should we assume responsibility for ourselves, or should the government take care of us. And I don’t believe in the nanny state. If we do have regulations and laws they should be at the state level, not at the federal level. We didn’t even have a federal law up until 1937, and here we are, we have spent hundreds of billions of dollars in a very unsuccessful attempt to regulate drugs and you have all these weird examples.

That’s one example you mentioned, but what about a sick person dying with cancer who goes out and uses marijuana when it is legalized in a particular state like California, and the feds come in and arrest him. I mean there’s so much violation there of common decency and the constitution. It makes no sense. The drug is a total failure and the federal drug war ought to be revisited and, for the most part, gotten rid of.

Joy Behar: Ok, Stephen Baldwin, hi. You’re against legalizing marijuana. Why?

Stephen Baldwin: Well, it’s a little bit ironic. I can see why Jimmy wanted to rush out of there so quickly. Here you’re looking at an actor that has starred in two very popular marijuana films; Half Baked and Biodome, and here I am bringing a faith-based conservative perspective to this issue.

Obviously Joy, there’s a lot of common sense that needs to be included in this conservation. It’s a very simple reality: marijuana leads to doing worse things. That’s just a fact. I don’t care what anybody says or what the debate is. When you smoke marijuana at a young age it will usually lead to alcohol abuse and harder drugs. So right there, I mean, that’s one reason why it should not be legalized.

Joy Behar: We’ve heard that for years that it’s a gateway drug. What do you say to that, Congressman Paul?

Ron Paul: Well, I think it’s silly. Probably the most addictive drug in the country, in the world, is nicotine and nobody talks about nicotine being a gateway drug, so there’s no sense to that. And besides it’s not nearly as addictive as alcohol. So if you’re a consistent person and you think the government should be regulating personal behavior, you have to be for prohibition of alcohol.

And when you look back throughout history and what happened to that, it was a total disaster. It created the Al Capones. And right now today there is so much violence today, not because people use drugs, but because they are illegal. You know the people who benefit the most by all these laws, these are the drug cartels. They lobby to keep these laws in place because they can’t exist without them. You don’t have the Al Capones now because you don’t have prohibition of alcohol.

Prohibition is what is bad, and this does not mean that we endorse personal behavior that is not beneficial, it just means who regulates personal behavior. And it shouldn’t be the state. There’s no benefits to it. It’s like regulating church behavior or religious behavior of any sorts, so I see no purpose in doing this.

Joy Behar: Okay, Stephen we’ll get back to you when we return, Okay. More Baldwin vs. Paul.

Okay, we’re back. Stephen, let me ask you a question. Congressman Paul brought up the whole idea of medical marijuana. What is your response to that? People have glaucoma, they’re nauseous from anti-cancer drugs. What do you say to that?

Stephen Baldwin: Well, again there is, you know, not a whole lot of research to back up the fact that there are’nt alternatives even to that. There are lots of pain-relieving practices that people can study. So, I must say that to be honest with you Joy, when in fact there are people for those reasons that do have success with it, then, if prescribed under a controlled situation, then yes, obviously that makes a lot of sense.

But back to Mr. Paul’s statement about the addictive aspects of smoking cigarettes, obviously, if I smoke a cigarette I’m not going to go in my vehicle and be impaired potentially to damage somebody else’s life. If we legalize marijuana there’s no question that the number of deaths related to people being impaired under the influence of marijuana is going to increase. The question is, just to be able to tax it, is it worth it? That’s the question.

Joy Behar: Okay. Ron, what do you say to that?

Ron Paul: Well, I understand there’s a few people who smoke marijuana already, and how many times have you seen somebody arrested for driving under the influence of marijuana? I mean, I’ve never even heard of it. Driving under the influence of alcohol… that is dangerous, butpeople shouldn’t do that and they should be responsible. But you can’t get more people smoking marijuana, it’s just that, what is so bad is the war on marijuana, putting people in prison. They can be caught using drugs for the third time, never committing a violent act, and putting them in prison for life, and yet rapists and murderers can get out.

And if you think of all that expenses you’re talking about hundreds of billions of dollars that get been spent on this and people usually who get sent to prison for non-violent drug use come out as violent criminals. So it makes no sense at all to pursue this method because marijuana is not going to increase car accidents. Let me tell you that is not the case.

Joy Behar: I would think that it’s hard to detect if you’re high on marijuana when you’re pulled over by the police. There’s no breathalyzer test, so how would we know what effect it has?

Ron Paul: Well, that’s a possibility but even under today’s circumstances nobody gets arrested for it and the alcohol is the real culprit and the real problem. And yet we have people in Washington D.C. who drink a lot of alcohol, let me tell you. Because of political reasons they’re scared to death even to vote to legalize the growing of hemp. Hemp has nothing to do with smoking marijuana. And because of this obsession on the drug war we can’t grow hemp in this country. We send the hemp growing up to Canada, then we buy the products that we make from hemp. So we export our jobs to Canada. Hemp is a good product that we prohibit from being used, and it was legal up unto even after World War II. We were allowed to raise hemp in this country. This is how hysterical this War on Drugs has gotten.

So the soon as we come to this realization, someday, actually I’m optimistic about this. Someday this country is going to wake up like they did in the 1930s and say, “Hey, you know, prohibition didn’t work”. Alcohol is a horror, it has made things worse and it has caused a lot of crime and a lot of violence. It’s about time we just do this. Get rid of the prohibition. Let the regulation go back to the state. Regulate it like alcohol and where the real regulation comes from the individual and also from the family and the parents and the community. That’s what prevents drug use. Not some federal thug coming in with guns and arresting some kid and throwing him in prison for life. That makes no sense whatsoever.

Joy Behar: Are you saying that there are a lot of alcoholics in Congress? Is that what I heard you say?

Ron Paul: No, I didn’t say that. I said there’s a lot of people in Congress who drink a lot of alcohol and they won’t vote to legalize hemp. They won’t even let us raise hemp because they’re afraid of the political consequence.

Joy Behar: Let me ask you something. Is there any drug you would not legalize? Do you want to legalize all drugs? Heroine included.

Ron Paul: Well, I want to go back to a previous time prior to 1937 when the states did the regulating. I don’t advocate giving marijuana to ten year olds walking into a store. But the kids now can get more marijuana with all these laws easier than they can get alcohol. So the states have every right to regulate and legalize and allow people to use these things.

Joy Behar: We’re running out of time. Stephen, I’m going to give you the last word before we go.

Stephen Baldwin: I’m just curious, Joy, do you think there’s a lot of marijuana smoking Ron Paul supporters? I’m just wondering.

Joy Behar: Yeah, have you ever smoked a joint, Ron? Congressman Paul, have you ever smoked a joint?

Ron Paul: Well, this is the truth and most people believe what I say. I have never seen anybody smoke marijuana and I have never been in the same room with it. To me it’s an issue of freedom of choice.

Joy Behar: I got to go. Okay, thank you very much, you guys. Go to to comment about this show or any other. Larry, thanks for letting me sit in for you, I had a great time.

  • nedmorlef

    Steven I too am a born again Christian. I was forced to take a drug test and then sent to clean asbestos dust by my employer at 18. I was told I would be dead 10 yrs ago from lung cancer. I am still clean after 30 yrs and I credit my medicinal use of cannabis. Right or wrong I implore you to read the bible. Look up in your concordance “every green herb” & “herb bearing seed” and you will find that God on the 6th day found all plants and herbs bearing seed to be VERY GOOD.”

    He went on to say it several more times throughout the old & new testaments.
    “Nothing is evil of itself” also says the bible. Only man is evil. Even the animals live & die w/o malice.

    I quit smoking when I became a Christian until I read & studied the bible for myself. I am redeemed and “all things in moderation” is good.

    I am a fan but, I disagree with you. God Bless in Christ.

  • Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness

    Growing plants should not be taxed. Think of the huge bureaucracy needed to tax plants (inspectors, surveillence, invasion of privacy). People should be allowed to grow any kind of plant they want without restriction or taxes. Only the SALE of cannabis should be taxed by the state (not the federal government). The states could have a modest tax on cannabis which is collected at the point of sale. Cannabis is just an easy to grow weed. Let’s be reasonable. Someone buying cannabis should not have to pay more than $10 an ounce (including tax). If you tax something heavily then you have the black market problem again. Don’t sell or deliver to minors unless they have a doctor’s prescription. End prohibition of all drugs now. People got to be free.


  • Iconoclast

    H.R. 1207 would be the first place to start. AUDIT THE FEDERAL RESERVE and watch the skeletons come out of the closet. Shit rolls downhill from their.

    Remember their are no “buts” in the Bill of Rights, the government put them their trying to usurp them by “interpteting them for you. Sometimes too much help is no good. Read them they say what they mean, no scholars, lawyers or interpretors required!

    As of now we have a President that is aiding and abetting the criminality of the last President and his cronies. He has risen to criminal status himself. If you “knowingly” aid and abet a crime you go to jail or prison. Our government and our leaders were supposed to be subservient to us, we have become subservient to them. It is time to make a fuss in any (peaceful) way shape or form you can, and if that doesnt work remember the words of lincoln:

    “Any people anywhere, being inclined and having the power, have the right to rise up and shake off the existing government, and form a new one that suits them better. This is a most valuable, a most sacred right – a right which we hope and believe is to liberate the world. Nor is this right confined to cases in which the whole people of an existing government may choose to exercise it. Any portion of such people, that can, may revolutionize, and make their own of so much of the territory as they inhabit.”

    ~ Abraham Lincoln, (speech in Congress January 1848)

    “THE GOVERNMENT IS NOT YOUR FRIEND” – Former Federal Judge Andrew Napolitano

  • Robert — It wasn’t Alec Baldwin– it was Chuck Baldwin who
    was Constitution Paty candidate for President. That alone should
    have dictated a “FREEDOM” position not con Ron Paul’s position!

    Has anyone questioned WHY those controlling the media want to put
    this issue in front of Ron Paul? Of course, he is right BUT most
    Americans FEAR drug abuse, violence, and power! The government is certainly using the “War on Drugs” to generate FEAR and maintain their power. IT’S REALLY ABOUT POPULATION CONTROL and

    Can we UNITE and TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK? Will we? We MUST or we
    are RUINED!

  • Robert

    What is truly sad about Alec Baldwin, is he was paid to be there by his sponsors the alcohol industry. There is nothing left of him but a shallow display of ego and greed. The only way his voice is heard any more is as a radical, someone who needs to force the will on others, someone clutching for a shred of significance in a empty life, visibly plagued by alcohol and prescription drug abuse. That his ego would condemn literally millions of people to the war on drugs a civil war of a government attacking it’s won citizens is appalling, that he doesn’t care that millions will suffer to feed his ego is even worse. The is no such thing as a war on drugs, it is a war on people, a war on freedom and a war on adult choice.

  • Brendan

    “smoke weed every day, i dont give a s***! i dont give a f***” -Nick Swardson

    not legalizing marijuana is like saying wikipedia isnt reliable… retarded, and you are in the end only limiting yourself.

    and to counter the gateway drug fallacy, please read up on your wikipedia Mr. Baldwin

  • daniel

    That is a legitimate statement on how to properly tax a plant that can be grown anywhere any size, the only way to get it done is mass amounts of pressure to your states leaders, also it would eliminate the above problem of illegals and violence at our border and cut off the profits that Mexican drug cartels are receiving

  • Chris

    Why not just legalize it and allow people to grow it or buy it? Of course you must be over 18 just like you have to for tobacco.

    Do we really need to have a $50 per ounce tax? Don’t we really already pay enough in taxes to our government who can’t seem to manage what we give them as it is?

    How about if you want to grow it charge a $100 per plant fee and get a tag that goes on each plant you grow this way the state gets it’s money right off the top. Plus they know how many is being grown by who and keeps you from going over each counties legal amount.

    Then if you get caught growing without tags on your plants the Cops, Sheriffs cut them down and fine you $100 per plant? No criminal prosecution period as it’s a waste of time.

    Then you want to sell it you pay a tax just like any other person who say grows something and sells it.

    The above should have nothing to do with going after all the illegal Mexican cartels growing in the national forest for many
    reasons. Deforestation, illegal and harmful chemicals and pesticides, violence and firearms and let’s not forget that all their money goes back out of the country. The USA get’s no benefits from them.

    I think this would help eliminate a huge mess on this war on drugs.

    • travis

      I do believe that about ten states have a pot tax stamp. If you purchase it, you must take your pot to them so they can weigh it. When you take it to the tax office in any state that has the pot stamp, you are basically doing a illegal act under the u.s. government. Look at California, New Mexico, both states have a prescription pot law on the books under state law. Its the federal law that screws every person who needs it for cancer and other medical uses. It would have to be the federal government that changes its law, not the state.

      • Sadly enough even if someone wanted to purchase a tax stamp and be a law-biding citizen in a fictitious world, this would be great, but here in reality they have never really sold these Marijuana Tax Stamps, its just another way to make Marijuana users a criminal.

        I personally find a $5 to $10 tax on my buds an acceptable thing, its a direct tax and would fully legal under the constitution of the United States. I would want those tax revenues to be used for schools, and other projects that would support the local communities where the tax is generated.

        I have to throw this out there, just in case Mr. Baldwin actually believes Marijuana is a gateway drug that leads those who use to on to harder drugs. Mr. Baldwin an educated person would already realize there is absolutely no chemical found in Marijuana or any other drug for that matter, that causes a person to take a so called step up to a harder more dangerous drug..

        When in fact, what causes this gateway drug effect, you happily threw out there like you thought you had some great factual information to crush the infidel pot heads with. Is actually, 100% caused by Prohibition itself.

        Prohibition is what has taken the education of children about drugs out of the parents, schools, and communities hands, and places them in the hands solely of drug dealers.

        For example, let’s say John is 16 years old and he goes to buy some weed from the drug dealer on the corner. The drug dealer just happens to not only sell weed, but hey he happens to also have a pocket full of crack rocks, and a pocket full of little heroin tar balls, cause its a vast unregulated black market under prohibition the dealer does it to make a living so he sells weed, crack, heroin, and other drugs as well.

        Now, John is buying a $20 sack of weed from said drug dealer, while he’s buying that bag of weed, the dealer says hey man, you ever tried crack, man? I got the killer rocks, and I’ll make you a great deal.

        Now, John has in fact been taken into that so called gateway drug effect, you so ignorantly threw out in you support of your ANTI-Legalization Stance.


        Lobbyists & Corporate Interests Groups Are The Cancer Of The United States Federal Government!!


        Stop Corruption in 2016, Vote Out All Republicans & Demacrats!!


  • Andrew Deame

    Why not just have it a state decision? Then we could have everybody who didn’t want it legalized move out of the state that legalizes it. Done. Simple as that. Of coarse then they’d have to deal with the underground drug cartel dealers in the state where it’s illegal. I don’t know, it’s such an obvious decision, I can’t wait until I can walk into my liquor store and go in the back section to buy a big fat sack of grass. GOD BLESS RON PAUL.

  • Iconoclast

    What many miss about the so called “war on drugs” is the intent of it.

    The intent was to allow government to grow. The war on drugs was never meant to be won. I love Doctor Paul but sometimes he doesn’t seem to get why things are the way they are.He seems to actually think Congress will grow a spine. These recent wars on drugs and terror are wars on We the People and allow our government to grow exponentially beyond its bounds.

    The banksters that control our government have been subverting the Constitution since day one. Our Constitution and Bill of Rights were meant to be understood by an 18th century Bozo and required no interpretations, lawyers or scholars to decipher them. They say what they say and there are no buts inserted. Unfortunately our government (the same one that wants to keep growing) took it upon itself to “interpret” the Amendments and twisted them into an unintelligible quagmire while allowing themselves to grow to the behemoth, tax guzzling, permit making monster that we have to contend with today.

    Because of the drug war wiretapping and home invasions have become routine and shows like Cops make these thugs look like heroes while brainwashing the unwitting masses in the process.

    Many have no clue that the most implicated entity in the smuggling of drugs into the country is the government itself and that the Taliban had eradicated 95% of the opium poppies prior to our invasion of Afghanistan which occurred just before growing season. Now Heroin has reached its abundantly healthy 100% of the finest Heroin ever and floods our streets and schools. Wall Street is propped up by drugs and the Taliban knew this well which is why they eradicated it in the first place.

    Take out the Banksters running America and we can take back America and the people can again begin to rule it by the Constitutional Laws we started with. Only this time create an Amendment that thwarts the Banksters and holds them culpable for their treasonous activities and buying off of our leaders.

    • travis

      You want to know who really controls the country. The companies you get your prescription drugs from. Think about it, if they even legalize pot, there will be a bigger job loss, and a huge inflation. Think about how dependent elderly people are for there prescription drugs. Most prescription drugs have a worse side effect than what its prescribed for. Pot on the other hand only has about three, and its nothing any one can’t handle. I think we all can handle the munchies( the country is already overweight),uncontrollable laughter, and a little paranoia.

    • This War on Drugs was tool for the Nixon Administration to beable to quickly and swiftly crush the Anti-Vietnam War Movement. Once the drug war was enacted, as we can all see the Anti-War Protests were quickly squashed by the Nixon/Hoover Run government.

      I could continue on & on & on & on, about all the illegal and morally wrong events that have taken place since this illegal war on the people of this nation started, including one of the sickest & morally corrupt actions, being the use of The D.A.R.E program and mental conditioning in schools to get children to turn their parents in if they had ever seen them use this type of pipe or rolled marijuana cigarettes, and so on…

      At the end of the day, every damn state needs to show the Federal Government whose always been in charge and will always be in charge. If all 50 states demand change in unity, and the states demands aren’t followed, by the people, then each state should direct their elected house and senate representatives, to move on presidential impeachment. Then once that is done and the president is impeached, then each state needs to recall all their elected federal representatives.

      Leaving Capital Hill Abandoned. Returning The Power Where It Belongs In The hands of the States.

      I know its all wishful thinking, since the majority are sheepele, and already brainwashed into following the Republican & Democrat political parties right off a cliff to their death, without a second thought.

      Here’s Some Fun Images For Anyone Who Wants TO Check Them Out!!

  • Bill O. Rights

    Ron Paul is a common sense, clear thinking man. Of course the drug war is a failure just as prohibition of alcohol was a failure. End the war on drugs and end drug related crime. Put the drug syndicates out of business. America was a free country – I hope it will be free again someday.

    I think the comment about heavy drinkers in Congress was to show how hipocritical that bunch is. They think it’s okay to get high on certain drugs (alcohol) and arbitrarily ban certain other drugs (marijuana, ect.) Personal liberty, personal responsibility. No more nanny state. Bring back the land of the free.

    • travis

      This country is not what we learned about in school. I remember learning about this country, and its genesis. The first people wanted to be free, so they fought, and won. We can’t overthrow our government, but we can sure change the way our kids think. They will be the ones governing this country.

  • JiMMy

    Ron got off to a rough start there as usual, but ultimately whooped any opposition.

    My favorite line from the Baldwin was:

    “It’s a very simple reality: marijuana leads to doing worse things. That’s just a fact. I don’t care what anybody says or what the debate is. When you smoke marijuana at a young age it will usually lead to alcohol abuse…”

    This was his ace in the hole. So, it cant be legalized. Why? Its too dangerous, because it could potentially lead to using a legalized drug. Nice.

    • Observer

      At least Baldwin knows what he is talking about. In fact I am suprised Mr. Paul didn’t blame the Fed for marijuana.

      Really, my favorite line from Mr. Paul was the

      1) Holy OMG let stoned people drive!!!
      2) OMG I really have ZERO idea how to compare nicotine, weed, and alcohol

      Seriously, when was the last time you think Ron Paul hung out with ANYONE that smokes marijuana?

      Oh wait, he was just talking cause he likes to change the subject.

      Ron Paul is getting weird, and lol ‘alcoholics are in congress’ and ‘some federal thug is gonna break in and arrest some kind’.

      • platon

        first of all moron, rp doesn’t hold a ‘doctorate’, but an m.d.; that stands for (because you are obviously incurably stupid), a ‘medical doctor’. not that this degree qualifies him or anyone to be an expert in policy and law, which is the crux of his argument. i have no idea where people like you come from. probably jersey lol

      • p.s. richards

        I think Ron was referring to the fact that Big Alcohol, not to mention Big Pharm/Tobacco, hold millions of dollars of sway over many Congressmen, and help to keep any pro-hemp/cannabis legislation out of Congress due to the huge losses they would see if these plants were legalized.

      • travis

        So this guy must be one of the law abiding people in this country.HMMMMMMM
        I call you out. We all do something illegal. Every shrink will tell you that its only human. If someone tells you its something you can’t do, then you do it. about 51% of the time. We need a revolution. I am not saying violent, but we can sure gather in the masses. This would make any politician,and or government listen to what the people want. If they do not listen then we all move to Canada.(i am not a big fan of Canada)