Show: CNN American Morning
News Anchor: The idea of legalizing marijuana to try to reduce crime is a hot topic right now in American and there is no shortage of opinions out there. In fact, here’s what some of you who called in to our amfix hotline are saying.
Caller1: I smoke marijuana on an occasional basis and it’s a lot safer than alcohol, and I was wondering why hasn’t it been legalized yet. I think it could be a big boost to our economy and possibly save our economy.
Caller2: I as well as other cancer patients sometimes have to use this drug called marinol, which is artificial marijuana (THC). It costs the tax payers, in this case, $1,800 dollars every month for 60 tables, as opposed to… you can’t imagine how much marijuana I would get for that price.
News Anchor: Joining us now from Texas is former presidential candidate and Congressman, Dr. Ron Paul. Thanks for joining us this morning, Congressman. I know you have some strong ideas about how this country is conducting its war on drugs. We just heard from some of our viewers who strongly support legalizing marijuana. Do you think we should legalize pot alone or all drugs including heroin, cocaine and meth?
Ron Paul: I think we should look at the federal drug war and I would say the federal drug war has failed, so we should reject it. When I talk about changing the law, I want to go back to the constitutional approach to a problem like this, and that is through the states. Up until 1937 there wasn’t even a law against marijuana and at that time they just passed a law to tax it. So we’ve had an experience in this country where we didn’t have all these laws, but it was regulated by the states. Alcohol is legalized by the federal government but it is regulated by state laws. So I’m thinking more of an approach like that.
But what upsets me so much is when the state tries to exert its authority over marijuana, like in California they will pass a law and say that sick people can use it. So people who are dying with AIDs or cancer are getting benefits from marijuana and then the federal government comes in and says, “We don’t care about the state law”, and they just overrun and they put people into prison for this. We have now over 500,000 people in prison that never committed a violent crime for drug use, and there are mandatory jail sentences under these conditions. This makes no sense, it’s so expensive and it hasn’t achieved anything.
News Anchor: So let me just get your position on this. You think the federal government should stay out of trying to legalize all drugs, and that’s not just marijuana, but all drugs?
Ron Paul: Right, and I would let the states deal with it. It would be a state issue on how they do it. I recall as a youngster when I worked in a drug store, I sold codeine and caffeine over the counter. I could by it as a teenager and it wasn’t a drug problem. So it isn’t the lack of laws that causes a drug problem. I mean the real drug problem and disaster in this country is alcohol and nicotine, that’s what is killing people. So we’re dealing with the minutae, but we’re creating a monstrous legal problems costing hundreds of billions of dollars and putting people in prison that should be treated as sick people. They shouldn’t be treated as criminals.
We treat alcoholics. What if we put all the alcoholics in prison? I mean, it makes more sense whatsoever. Prohibition of alcohol was the biggest social absurdity … back then it was the borders between the United States and Canada, that’s where the alcohol was coming in from Canada back then during probation. Now it’s Mexico, but the problems we have are because the price of these drugs is about a thousand times greater than it would be. Actually, some of this stuff is useless if it’s just allowed to be out in the open. So we’ve created most of the problems for ourselves and these drug wars are a consequence of our policies.
News Anchor: Well, let me just ask you this. There are people that see your point of view, in fact a lot of them do. But there are people that vehemently disagree. They believe that if we legalize drugs, especially hard drugs, we’re just going to see more addicts and we’re going to see more pain. In fact, I talked to former DEA special agent Robert Stutman on our show on Monday and he says that if you think that legalization is the right way to go it’s naive. Let’s listen to his point.
Bob Stutman: If you legalize, you will at least double, some studies say five to ten times as much. You give drugs to kids, they will use them. Period. Anybody that thinks that’s not true has never met a kid or a drug addict.
News Anchor: Congressman, what about the position that we’ll just be creating more addicts by making it easier for kids to get drugs?
Ron Paul: Well, I would compare the statistics of how many people were using marijuana before 1937 and what kind of problems we’ve had. After it was made illegal and we created the drug war, we’ve had a massive increase in usage of these drugs. So I think that very statistic refutes everything that he says.
And if you’re looking for this so called gateway drug, the most addicting drug, it is claimed by many scientists, is nicotine. That’s more addictive than marijuana and it kills more people. So, we’re on the wrong track and we can do so much better by just coming to common sense, putting the responsibility on the individual, the family and the local community and our state governments instead of creating this monstrous drug war which has only been going on since Nixon’s time in the early 1970s, but literally hundreds of billions of dollars have been spent and it keeps getting worse. But there is a lot of law enforcement officials and a lot of judges that would like to see these rules change.
News Anchor: Okay, but Congressman are you planning on introducing any legislation about legalizing drugs or leaving it in the hands of the state? I know you have an Industrial Hemp Farming Act that you’re trying to get through with Barney Frank, but what about putting forth legislation to legalize drugs?
Ron Paul: Yeah, I have in the past. I’m not absolutely sure… I don’t think I have done it this term. I did the one with industrial hemp, which is one of the consequences of this crazy war that you can’t even grow industrial hemp. It has nothing to do with smoking marijuana and that would really create jobs and a lot of industry.
No, but in the past I have [tried] to change the code on marijuana so it would be not prohibited by the federal government and the states would deal with it.
News Anchor: Alright, so you’re talking about marijuana in that instance. Okay. Well, thank you for your point of view. As I said there are a lot of people that agree with you and having been weighing in on our website this morning. Congressman Ron Paul, it was rich talking to you, thanks so much.
Ron Paul: Thank you.
News Anchor: We also want to know what you think, so please go to our website and take a quick poll. We’re asking, “do you think the United States should legalize drugs?” 6% of you say don’t legalize anything, 49% in our poll say yes to legalizing all drugs, and 45% say just legalize marijuana. So go to www.cnn.com/amfix, we’d like to know what you think.