War on Drugs

Ron Paul opposes the War on Drugs.

On November 20, 2008 Ron Paul said in a New York Times / Freakonomics interview:

“[…] the federal war on drugs has proven costly and ineffective, while creating terrible violent crime. But if you question policy, you are accused of being pro-drug. That is preposterous. As a physician, father, and grandfather, I abhor drugs. I just know that there is a better way — through local laws, communities, churches, and families — to combat the very serious problem of drug abuse than a massive federal-government bureaucracy.”

Note: This summary of Ron Paul’s position has been determined to be incomplete! Contact us to join RonPaul.com as a voluntary editor. Help us set the record straight and keep this page up-to-date.

  • Ray Eberle

    The war is not succeeding: The United Nations’ Office on Drugs and Crime estimates that 5 percent of the world’s adult population still uses illegal drugs and that the global drug industry is worth $320 billion. Most discouragingly, countries with harsher drug laws do not have fewer drug users than countries with more lenient laws.

    This failure is not due to a lack of law enforcement effort. The United States spends almost $45 billion a year enforcing prohibition and makes 1.5 million drug-related arrests annually. In 1980, there were only 41,000 Americans in jail on drug-related charges. Today, there are 500,000. What do we have to show for this? Not much. Consider cocaine, for instance, which used to be grown in Columbia and then flown by plane across the Caribbean into the United States. When the U.S. government closed down this route, cocaine importation just moved to Mexico.

    Furthermore, prohibition has not been without unintended consequences. Indeed, much of the harm caused by drugs is precisely due to the fact that they are illegal. For normal, legal businesses, murdering your competitors is not a viable business strategy. For businesses that exist outside of the legal system, this strategy is not only viable but commonplace. In Mexico alone, 40,000 people have died in drug-related violence over the last four years.

    But the violence of the drug trade is not prohibition’s only harmful effect. By making drug use illegal, we have turned otherwise law-abiding citizens into criminals. America has the highest incarceration rate in the world — nearly five times the world average — which is primarily due to tough drug laws. According to Human Rights Watch, “More people are sent to prison in the United States for nonviolent drug offenses than for crimes of violence.”
    Instead of criminalizing the production and use of drugs, we should legalize and tax these activities while supporting greater prevention and treatment programs. Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron calculated that drug legalization in the United States “would save roughly $48.7 billion per year in government expenditure” and “would yield tax revenue of $34.3 billion annually, assuming legal drugs are taxed at rates comparable to those on alcohol and tobacco.” Furthermore, legalization would bring the drug trade into the sunlight, thereby ending the drug wars that have destroyed far too many human lives.

    I realize that drug legalization would be messy. But the alternative – — continuing the failed war on drugs — would be even worse.

  • fight4freedom

    Let just look back in time when the government ruled Marijuana illegal. I’m just picking on this one. In 1937 I think it’s very interesting that Nylon had just went public and starting selling. Hemp was the preferred raw material for rope. Then Mr. Anslinger decide to create a great career opportunity and recognized the Bureau of Narcotics going after at first Opiates & Cocain, Marijuana was a tag along (probably by direction of some politician who would benefit finicially). Would it be safe to say after looking over the our history this war is doing nothing but costing us. Can we not fix what we see now, but didn’t see then. One man was very ambitious and held powerful cards at the time. But he was wrong.

    • mark 971

      One of the reason for the laws on marijuana is that our nation was in the middle of the depression and they were trying to fix the illegal immigrants problem. They had an influx of Mexican migrant workers we didn’t want to have a debt for and they smoked marijuana which they brought from Mexico. So they used this law to force they migrant workers out of our country. We used hemp up until the production of nylon, which is a petroleum based product. We have become a nation hell bent on arresting people for this harmless drug, cultures have used this drug to heal, meditate, and the production of rope and clothing. Is this not a personal preference since some people feel the same way about alcohol. As we read every day about people getting killed by drunk drivers, how many articles do we read “Man dies as a result of smoking to much marijuana.” We being America, need to take a serious look at what programs we sponsor in this time of economic devastation( not created by the working man, but big business).

  • Cincikid101

    I agree with Dr. Paul. Most of the individuals that have replied do not know what there talking about when it comes to the dynamics of our government. The federal government has grown to be a much larger entity than it should be. By reducing the scope and size of many of our frivolous federal programs, we can begin to reduce our debt and expand opportunity in our markets. I wish you the best of luck this election season Dr. Paul.

  • most of you are wrong and have no clue what is going on….
    read more books…..
    that is all.



  • aye!

  • Braun

    The biggest advantage for legalizing drugs is in national security. Most terrorist organizations as well as the violent cartels on the U.S./Mexican boarder are funded with Drug money. By legalizing those drugs particularly marijuana you would be in a way fighting fire with fire by causing the United States to gain the profit of drug sales instead of the terrorists and cartels. So basically our fire would choke out their fire by taking all the fuel and oxygen from their fire metaphorically speaking.

  • Elioenai

    This is what Primaries are for… to get rid of the entrenched power. It was used somewhat successfully last congressional election and must be used again and again until we have flushed these no good, dirty, greedy and power hungry politicians out. Primaries are when we have the best chance of sending these RINO’s and Marxists home. When Ron Paul is elected in 2012… if we have done our work and flushed a bunch more of the “old gaurd” out we *will* have a chance to get rid of these ridiculous and dangerous policies like this stupid “War on Drugs” and “War on Terror” and “War on Poverty” and “War on Iraq” and “War on Afghanistan” and “War on Libyia”… and war and war and war and war on anything that these Politicians and Bankers thing will give them more wealth and power. I’ve had enough of all of it. The time to act is NOW.

    • Mark D

      Thank you< bechause of your comment there's nothing I need to say, you said it all and every word of it the truth. and the truth is what these horrible people fear the most.

  • Ron Willison

    Actually Fiddlecrab, I’m of the mindset that once we put Dr. Paul in the Oval Office. We, the people, along with the continued stupidity on the part of the entrenched establishment will have no choice but to make the hard choices as mother nature is also fed up with wall street and Washington. If we don’t. Gods human experiment is at an end.

    • Fiddlercrab

      Too bad the people do not run the government. Politicians who for the most part do not represent the people’s best interests do.

      The only power Ron has to stop this BS is pardoning all drug offenders arrested by the federal government ever, both dealers and users, and pardoning all new drug offenders on a federal level every morning, for the duration of his presidency. The government would, of course, impeach him with some absurd claim that he is abusing power and that he is ‘unconstitutionally’ using the presidential pardon for the unintended purpose of removing a ‘constitutional’ federal law. Of course, drug offenders at a state level would not be pardoned. BUT this would leave the power to make and enforce drug laws to the states, exactly what Ron wants…

  • Paul Pot

    I think if Ron did become pres he would be able to halt the drug war because the whole political scene around prohibition is changing so rapidly at the moment. Delaware and Maryland have just made lawful allowances for the use of medical marijuana making a total of eighteen states, more than a third of the US with recognition for marijuana patients. And there’s more states on the way. Prohibition politics has never looked so positive and if Ron were to be elected it would be a part of this growing movement of liberalism happening in the US, at least as far as the drug war is concerned. And it looks as though several states will have not just medical marijuana initiates on the ballot next year but the voters will also be presented with the chance to opt for full legalisation. And I dare say that since prop 19 was such a good turn out last year that there is actually a real chance that at least one state will legalise next year. And if that happens then that will set in motion a series of events that may well end with the total collapse of prohibition and the pres of the day may not even be involved in the final decision.
    By the way, good luck Ron.
    I hope you do become President.

  • Fiddlercrab

    Lets face it, if he did become president he would never be able to change the current drug situation. The house and senate would both NEVER pass a bill ending the war on drugs. Perhaps a bill allowing medical marijuana patients in medical marijuana states not to be hassled by federal law enforcement, but that’s it. As much as I like Ron Paul, the other politicians would not agree with him, nor would they agree with him when he turns popular support against them.

    The government doesn’t like to loose. Ending the war on drugs says to them that they are failures. Thousands of people would be unemployed, and I don’t think they’d be interested in becoming pot farmers. The gangsters would become legal drug producers while the pawn shop owners, cops, etc would become unemployed.

    The government will never grow a pair and admit their mistakes. They will continue to pass ridiculously stupid legislation in hopes of gaining re-election, driving this country into the ground until the people finally wake up and overthrow them. It wouldn’t be hard when 80% of a country that allows gun ownership is below the poverty line. Revolution is coming, and I hope that the leader or leaders of it are smart enough to give true democracy, the way most of the founding fathers envisioned, a second chance.

    • phil

      LOSE not LOOSE . . .

  • GA Voter

    Mr. Paul,
    In 2008 when I was deciding who to vote for, I gave you heavy consideration. I liked your basic ideological approach to govt. However, when I read a huge 2 pade ad you took out in a local paper, there was not one mention of the war on drugs or marijuanna legalization. That left me wondering how important this issue was to you. It used to be a major talking point for the Libertarians out there, but still no mention of it in your ad.

    I did not vote for you b/c of this reason. How much of a priority will you make this?

    • Ryan

      and what pro marijuana candidate did you vote for instead?

  • Richard

    I have voted Democrat since 1968 BUT since your running I will vote for you IF you do something with this war on drugs.

    Marijuana should be legal and now!! It is harmless !!

    Please do this for America!!

    Get us out of all these terrible wars that go no where, and keep us out. Its time for America not the rest of the world to get it together.

    And please stop all this money going to these other country’s !!!

    1. Israel, $2.4 billion
    2. Egypt, $1.7 billion
    3. Pakistan, $798 million
    4. Jordan, $688 million
    5. Kenya, $586 million
    6. South Africa, $574 million
    7. Mexico, $551 million
    8. Colombia, $541 million
    9. Nigeria, $491 million
    10. Sudan, $479 million

  • fight4freedom

    What do you do?
    In the morning at 8.am. the constitution rises to the show case for visitors to see. That is the only thing it does everyday. We the people must act, live and keep those freedoms and rights in act. A very long time we let the drug war pass. (We the voter’s) We now see it was a bad choice. It is now, we must gather at the poles and correct that choice. I could go into detail with all sorts of details proving the Drug War is hurting our nation. I’ll let you google it.
    A simple life is easy to live!
    I ask each reader, do you enjoy the freedom to choose. Choose your brand car, were you live, or the clothes you wear? Simple choices but your free to do so, but we lost the freedom to choose doctors not to long ago. Did you see that simple choice being taking away? At the end of everyday, you go to bed with some freedom left. Tomorrow I’d like to wake up and have more freedom then yesterday.

    -And always to our brothers and sisters fighting on the front lines. May you
    make it home safe. We have the best country to live in.. (some of you who
    haven’t been overseas, you’d be fighting like hell to keep this country free)

  • propot

    ron paul , if you really intend to leagalize marijuana i will absolutley vote for you for president. the government has really dropped the ball on this one. pot has never hurt anybody or caused anyone to hurt someone else. the government is trying to control everything we do and that is not what america is suspposed to be about. I bet a lot of people dont know that our founding fathers grew large amounts of weed and there is evidence that george washington not only grew it for making things but also to smoke. America needs to get off its puritanical ass and wake up. alot of things would get better if pot were legal, you can use it for fuel, rope, oil, food, clothing, and oxygen (pot plants put off more oxygen than trees). everyone would benefit especially our environment.

  • Mike

    Life long Democrat here, and, I gotta say, IF Ron Paul campaigns on legalizing marijuana he WILL take my vote away from Pres. Obama.
    At it’s heart this really is a MORRAL issue. Marijuana smokers who are smoking in the privacy of their own home (not operating motor vehicles and driving, AKA DUI) deservre the full protection of the CONSTITUTION and THE BILL OF RIGHTS. The Govt has ABSOLUTELY NO RIGHT to intrude into a person’s hoe or residence when a “crime” is being committed that harms NO ONE. The Supreme Court has been chipping away at our 4th Amendment rights for the past 50 years all in the name of the “war on drugs” drugs, of course being primarily Marijuanna. End Byrne grants from the fed. govt (essentially bribes from the fed govt to state agencies based on the number of drug arrests) To really get a handle on our nation’s crippling debt we need to end a 50 year old FAILED prohibition effort that cost US the taxpayer 10’s of billions per year, JUST on DOMESTIC programs such as “Operation Pipeline” add in the BILLIONS spent in foreign countries in the war on drugs, the BILLIONS spent on incarcerating NON VIOLENT drug “offenders.”

    Mr. Ron Paul, End the War on Drugs, and you WILL become the next President of our great country.

    • William

      They need to legalize soft drugs. If they do that, the prices of drugs will go down, and that will put the cartels out of business.

      • Ron Willison

        William.. I’m of a different mindset. The “one shoe fits all” concept fails. Since nobody of reason see’s anything but stupidity damage and waste with our global war on drugs. The question has to be. Why does it still exist? In a nutshell. “Dutch East India Company” Search it. That is where it began. Common sense says everything about the drug war is wrong. God gave us free will. He was over ruled by a higher authority. The Government.

  • Jayme1234

    To know where we should go, we only have to look at our past. We need to ask ourselves these questions. Has the “War on Drugs” made drugs less available? Do we now have less of our citizens addicted to drugs? The answer to both questions is “No”.

    As a heathcare professional, I must agree with Dr. Paul. As a mother & a grandmother, I also must agree with Dr. Paul. Spending billions of dollars on the “War on Drugs” has proved to be a worthless endeavor. Not much has changed with exception that many more people are in prison & still not recovering. I feel it is time to re-evaluate & redirect our focus from a “War on Drugs” to a “Recovery from Drug Addiction”.

    Real knowledge about drugs (not scare tactics) is our only hope of preventing future drug addicts. And yes, sometimes this does not work either. Knowing the reasons “why” people turn to drugs for relief of the pain in their lives is very important. Is it for emotional relief, physical relief, or a combination of both. What causes one person to become an addict, while another does not become an addict? These are the types of questions we need answered. We now know what causes & increases our risks for heart disease, diabetes & etc. Why do we not have definitive answers regarding drug addiction?

    As I sit here with my TV on, being subjected to one commercial after another tageting everything from depression to impotence. And if that’s not enough, then the lawyers are circling to inform me that I just may have a court case if I took some of those advertised drugs & I feel I was injured. Give me a break!

    Is it any wonder that in general, people think that the only way to “feel better” is to take a pill? Is it no wonder “Alice” finds herself down the rabbit hole so frequently? For those of you that are afraid that if we end the “war on drugs” we will have many more people addicted to drugs, well, the studies just don’t back that up.

    The facts are that today, if you choose to take mind altering drugs, you may become addicted. It’s a gamble. If we legaize heroin, I still will not be interested in trying it and neither will the majority of non-addicts.

    More facts: We have so many wonderful programs that are available to everyone with a desire to recover, free of charge. We have AA, NA, Al-Anon, Al-A-Teen, etc., just to mention a few.

    However, those of us not addicted to drugs must also learn to accept that we can not force sobriety on anyone. We are also not resposible for the addicts actions. All we can do is provide them with the correct information. It has to be a personal choice. We must allow them to make mistakes & suffer the consequences of their actions. This is the path to maturity. We all must find our way.

    Recovery is a process, not a destination. Remember, Alcohol, one of our most addictive drugs, is legal. Go figure. Millions of addicts have found sobriety & serenity via these wonderful programs. I believe that one of the reasons these programs actually work is because of the extensive community of recovering alcohol &/or drug addicts that are willing to share their experience, strength & hope with those who want to live happily without drugs or alcohol. It is a personal choice.

    Please ask any recovering alcoholic/drug addict. I have been fortunate by knowing many recovering addicts. I feel sure that they will tell you that they failed when they tried to get sober for someone else. They succeded only when they made the decision to get sober for themselves. I have heard them say that there was absoultely nothing anyone else could have done to get them sober. They had to make that decision on their own. No prison, no loss of family & friends, no monetary loss, nor loss of jobs.

    So…..it is time to end the war on drugs, it’s not solving our problems.

    • Ron Willison

      Jayme. In order to solve a problem. You must first define it. Unfortunately the world and indeed the medical profession at large finds treating the symptoms more profitable and less hassle. The war on drugs is big business and sadly enough the very people that propagate it are those whose lively hoods depend on it. Take away all the stupid fear mongering statements like. “End the drug war and we will have more addicts” and such. You then can use rationale to solve the problem. Everyone that reads the next statement take a big breath and think for five minutes before replying. Spend the WHOLE five minutes. Think about ALL the aspects of it. “YOU CAN NOT SELL ME SOMETHING I CAN GET ACROSS THE STREET FOR FREE” Darn. Looks like drug dealers are going to need day jobs. Gee I wonder what happened to all the drive by killings says the morticians. My business is down for some reason. The locksmiths and home security company’s are lamenting too since home invasions and theft seems to have dropped dramatically. Poor old gun dealers can’t understand where all their business went. Seems like people just don’t care about personal protection as much as they use to they say. Looks like major layoffs are taking place at most emergency rooms in large metro area’s. People are scratching their heads. They just don’t get it. Police and fire depts. downsizing nationwide. This just in. The FDA and DEPT. Of JUSTICE in a joint study have concluded that welfare fraud is down by 73 percent, and food stamps are actually being spent on food for the children. Over heard a pawn shop owner and a collection agent talking the other day. The collection agent is job hunting. For some unknown reason. People are paying their bills. The pawn shop owner is worried about paying his store rent. And so on and so on. By now you must be getting the idea. Use the WHOLE five minutes. Commercial prisons, law enforcement, the judicial system, military, coast guard, rehab centers, first responders of all ilk. EVERYBODY is dependent on the war on drugs in one way or another. Imagine if you will. An addict walks into a welfare office. Grabs an application and a release of liability form and as he sits and fills them out he notices two doors. One has a smiley face the other a skull and crossbones. Behind door number one. Treatment. Behind door number two. His drug of choice. For FREE. Its his choice to live or die. And that is what god had in mind.

  • Ron Willison

    I fear for Mr. Paul. Like many others that have come and gone before. It seems that those that are sincere in their motives. Not on the take. Are the ones that get hammered by those that are.

    The sad fact is. While Sen. Paul is right as rain on his outlook on civil liberty’s. The simple fact remains that nobody wants drug reform. Not the government or the cartels. Or anyone in between. Think of the job losses were it to happen. Here is a simple thought that will say it all. “You can’t sell me something I can get across the street for free.” It would cost penny’s on the dollar to not only provide for free to all that are on a self-destruct course all the drugs of choice the need. As compared to the war on drugs. The collateral damage would disappear over night.

    But what do you then do with all the adrenaline junky cops? How many would be willing to give up the cop uniforms for a boy scout uniform in order to try and head off addiction at the pass in our school yards? I assure you. Not many.
    They enjoy the chase too much.

    Simple reality. Why not stop being our brothers keeper? We were never meant to be. Ask any drug councilor or addict. Is there anything that anyone can do to keep you from getting your drug of choice? And they will state flat out. “NO”.

    So when do we wake up and let common sense prevail?

    Dr. Paul. you are a man of integrity and I respect and support you. Should you win. Know that there are many Vets and other True Americans that will drop what we are doing, and come to Washington to cover your back. Many of us are fed up with the goings on in our nations capital.

    • Could not agree more. Great examples. COMMON SENSE SOLUTIONS !!! WHY doesn’t anybody in DC have this insight ? This is all smoke and mirrors, and the fog is running out…

  • My favorite Ron Paul quote is definitely relevant here: “I would absolutely never use the Federal Government to enforce the law against anybody using marijuana.”


    And we wonder why the fight to enlighten the typical American citizen has been so uphill? Just because some of them are idiots doesn’t mean we have to treat all that way; but they make it so damn hard!

    Ron – keep up the fight. We’re with you. Win, lose or draw – your creating an army that will carry the banner to future generations.

  • Scott Bisbee

    Oboma is Muslim . Muslims do not like drugs anyboby that can not see this , then move to Iran and take Obama and White Tiger (I mean Whit Idiot) with you

    • Bassil

      …………………..I don’t think there’s a word in the English vocabulary that can describe how excessively ignorant that statement was. Please educate yourself before you talk about any subject; for your own good bud.

      • Scott Bisbee

        Hey idiot is that a threat ?You are so retarted you can not see past your nose. You won”t even put your real name on your post( Idiot)if you are going to threaten why don”t you come to my house and do it (Idiot) Obama is the ANTI_CHRIST. It’s people like you is the reason why he was elected as president in the first place Go to Iran and get out of my country. My ancesters have been here for over 9000 years LEAVE NOW IDIOT

      • Scott Bisbee

        Hey IDIOT I whent and got educated Bassil …..Creats a shrewd,agressive business nature intent on personal gain. Now I see why you are a excessively ignorant fool that you are. And I am not your Bud Looks like you and OBOMASS are sleeping in the same bed. Tell me whos on top and whoes on the bottom

        • `shaw6038

          Listen you should probably just keep your comments to yourself, unless that is you want to look like an immature, ignorant, dip shit that can’t seem to spell very well. I mean you start off with “Muslims don’t like drugs”… Well i wish they’d quit flooding our country with heroin myself, and to say muslim, that may might not be exactly right, more like middle eastern countries, of course tho, mostly made up of muslims…, but anyhow the things you say don’t make sense, you sound pretty fuckin stupid.. Have a nice day!

      • man manomanowitz

        holy shit. Are all of you trolling, or is this serious? Lawl, this is the last place I expected to find anon, but at the same time, I hope to god this scott fellow isn’t real.

        …xDD “I don’t think there’s a word in the English vocabulary that can describe how excessively ignorant that statement was” Priceless. Good on ya mate.

        ……XDDDDDD for your own good bud. Lawl.

        This has got to be the greatest flame war I’ve ever stumbled across. And the most random. I mean come on, a Ron Paul support site of all places?

        Aw man, I’m still laughing. “White Tiger”? I’m 12, and what is this? I swear, if this isn’t samefag, I’ll put my left shoe on my head. And then post pics. And THEN gtfo.

        And I dunno, I think Bisbee is a pretty cool guy. Eh, slays the english language, and Doesn’t afraid of anything.

        Okay, okay, this comment has gone on long enough, keep up the good work.

        inb4 Don’t feed the trolls.

    • Lance

      Scott Bisbee has to be the dumbest person in America.

      Can’t spell Obama, calls him the “Anti-Christ” etc etc.

      It’s funny that all these jesus fanatics end up being total idiots in the long run.
      Religion and ignorance like yours are what destroy America.

      It’s funny when you offer people to come to your house and say it to your face, i’m sure everyone would be happy to come visit you in person and laugh at your ignorance.
      YOU get out.

      • Bucky Westburger

        lance put your tampon back in and pull up your big girl panties. If you are not here to support Ron Paul then leave the blog. I’am not sure but I think I had a tour of duty with this man in the first Gulf war. I would not confront him.He enjoyed what he did over there. Do you get my point Lets all see what we can do to get Ron Paul as our next President Please