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
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 CNN.com/LarryKing to comment about this show or any other. Larry, thanks for letting me sit in for you, I had a great time.