Drug Policy

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Donald Trump

Trump's Drug Policy (section page):

Trump has stated he does not drink, smoke, or use drugs.(DTI)


  • Opposed marijuana legalization (DTS)
  • In favor of medical marijuana (DTS)
  • Believes in states' rights to decide whether to have marijuana or not (DTS)

Bernie Sanders

Bernie's Drug Policy (section page)

"It means that we have to rethink the so-called war on drugs which has destroyed the lives of millions of people, which is why I have taken marijuana out of the Controlled Substance Act. So that it will not be a federal crime." - Bernie Sanders (DD3)

"I find it very strange that a major financial institution that pays $5 billion in fines for breaking the law, not one of their executives is prosecuted, while kids who smoke marijuana get a jail sentence." - Bernie Sanders (DD4)

"There is a responsibility on the part of the pharmaceutical industry and the drug companies who are producing all of these drugs and not looking at the consequence of it." -Bernie Sanders (DD4)

Bernie believes that the war on drugs has failed and instead of pursuing a path of punishment America should try to treat drug addiction. He supports medical marijuana and decriminalization of recreational marijuana. He believes that states should have the right to vote on full legalization. For hard drugs Bernie supports increased education and rehabilitation. (OTIBSD)

He also wants drug companies to take responsibility for the outcomes and uses of the drugs they bring to market, specifically opioids. (DD4)

Chris Christie

Christie | Drug Policy | (section page)

Focus on Treatment First with Expansion of Drug Courts:

Governor Christie has championed the use of drug courts in the state of New Jersey, which allow first time, non-violent offenders, the opportunity to get the treatment they need rather than serving jail time. The Governor expanded mandatory drug court for first time non-violent drug offenders across the state, and is calling for the expansion drug courts to every state.

  • The rate at which drug court graduates are re-arrested for new offenses is 16% and the reconviction rate is 8%. This is compared to re-arrest rates for drug offenders released from prison, which stand at 54% with a re-conviction rate of 43%.
  • An average institutional cost per inmate is approximately $38,900, whereas the cost for an active drug court participant is roughly $11,379.

Governor Christie also called for ending the current dysfunctional, ad-hoc approach for implementing drug courts being used on the federal level.

  • As President, Christie would make drug court mandatory in all 94 federal districts. He will implement a system to review and analyze outcomes of the various drug court models and institute best practices guidance for federal judges and prosecutors.


Simplified Quotes

  • Allow private sector to offer drug treatment programs. (Nov 2015)
  • Treatment, not jail, for drug addicts; it's a disease. (Nov 2015)
  • I support medical not recreational marijuana. (Sep 2015)
  • Mandatory drug treatment, not jail, for first time dealers. (Sep 2015)
  • Drug addiction is a disease: treatment instead of jail. (Apr 2015)
  • Drug addiction is a disease & it can be treated. (Jan 2015)
  • Drug courts: mandate treatment, not imprisonment. (Jan 2014)

(OTI:Drugs) Full quotes available on source.

Rand Paul

Paul's Drug Policy (section page)

Advocate of more rehabilitation and less incarceration

  • Apply the 10th Amendment to allow states to make marijuana legal
  • Bans on marijuana discriminate against lower income levels
  • Higher levels of incarceration exist among poor children than wealthy children
  • In addition to ending the over-criminalization of marijuana, Paul has risen awareness of another important issue among drug-related incarcerations - the unintentional racial outcome of the war on drugs
    • "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." (OTI - DP)

Paul believes we should:

  • Legalize medical marijuana
  • Exclude industrial hemp from definition of marijuana
  • Exempt industrial hemp from marijuana laws
  • Support community treatment rather than federal anti-drug programs
  • Deal with drug abuse on the state level (not a federally pressing issue)

(OTI - DP)

Ted Cruz

Cruz's Drug Policy (section page)


  • Cruz does not personally support the legalization of marijuana but does support a state's right to legalize its use (HuffPost)
  • However, has criticized the way Obama has dealt with state legislation that makes marijuana legal while under federal law it is still illegal (HuffPost)


  • "As of February 2015, nearly half--49%--of [federal prison] inmates were sentenced for drug crimes. This has contributed to overcrowding. Federal prisons now house 39 percent more inmates than their capacity. It is far from clear whether this dramatic increase in incarceration for drug crimes has had enough of an effect on property and violent crime rates to justify the human toll of more incarceration. Given the undeniable costs and dubious benefits of mass, longterm incarceration of nonviolent drug offenders, Congress should take steps to give judges more flexibility in sentencing those offenders. The Smarter Sentencing Act of 2015, which was introduced by Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Dick Durbin (D-IL), and of which I am an original cosponsor, is a significant stride in that direction. Among other things, the bill lowers minimum sentences, cutting them in half, to give judges more flexibility in determining the appropriate sentence based on the unique facts and circumstances of each case." (OTI - D)
  • Cruz has called for converting regulatory crimes to civil offenses (OTI - D)

Ben Carson

Carson's Drug Policy (section page)

Though Carson's official platform doesn't explicitly address marijuana legalization or other drug policies, he has mentioned the subject in interviews and during debates. Here are some quotes from those exchanges:

On preventing the spread of drugs

  • One of his top priorities as president would be to seal the border with Mexico "to stop the flow of drugs and violence into the United States." (BCWBS)

Against marijuana legalization

  • "Growing up in poverty, [Carson has] seen the crippling effects drug addiction can have. Gateway drugs, such as a marijuana, lead many down a road to harder illegal drugs, like heroin, that devastate the individual and the family. We must prioritize stopping the flow of illegal drugs into our neighborhoods and inner-city communities." (BCWM)
  • "I think medical use of marijuana in compassionate cases certainly has been proven to be useful. But recognize that marijuana is what’s known as a gateway drug. It tends to be a starter drug for people who move onto heavier duty drugs—sometimes legal, sometimes illegal—and I don’t think this is something that we really want for our society." (The Atlantic)

Carly Fiorina

Fiorina's Drug Policy (section page)

Opposes marijuana legalization but respects states' choices

  • "I don't support legalized marijuana for a whole host of reasons, including the fact that this is a very complex chemical substance, and when we tell young people it is just like drinking a beer, we are not telling them the truth. But I think Colorado voters made a choice. I don't support their choice, but I do support their right to make that choice." (Hill)

Drug addiction a serious problem

  • "I very much hope I am the only person on this stage who can say this, but I know there are millions of Americans out there who will say the same thing. My husband Frank and I buried a child to drug addiction. So, we must invest more in the treatment of drugs." (RD2)
  • Putting people in prison for drug related crimes is not the solution (RD2)
  • "We do need criminal justice reform. We have the highest incarceration rates in the world. 2/3 of the people in our prisons are there for non-violent offenses, mostly drug related. It's clearly not working." (RD2)

Lost daughter to drug addiction

  • There's a very real reason Carly Fiorina is against legalizing marijuana: She watched her stepdaughter, Lori Ann Fiorina, battle drug addiction and die an early death, at just 35 years old. (CNN)

Rick Santorum

Rick's Drug Policy (section page)

Kids with married parents are less likely to use drugs

  • "Children living with their married mother and father, as compared to other children, are less likely to get into trouble or use alcohol and drugs. They do better in school; they get better jobs. No surprise, they also have happier marriages. Teenagers on single-parent households or households with a stepparent are at 1.5 to 2.5 times the risk of using illegal drugs as are teens living with their mother and father." (OTID)

Marijuana should not be legalized

  • "I smoked pot when I was in college. Does that mean that I can't talk about drug use? Does that mean that I can't talk about how that's a bad thing? Of course not. You learn from those experiences. Even during that time, I knew that what I was doing was wrong. But just because I failed, that does not mean that I shouldn't be able to talk about it." (OTID)

States should not have the power to violate federal law

  • "Colorado is violating the federal law. And if we have controlled substances, they're controlled substances for a reason. The federal law is there for a reason, and the states shouldn't have the option to violate federal law. As Abraham Lincoln said, you know, states don't have the right to wrong." (OTID)

John Kasich

Kasich | Drug Policy | (section page)


Sending mixed signals to kids about drugs is a disaster. Drugs is one of the greatest scourge in this country, and I spent five years of my administration working with my team to do a whole sort of things to try to reign in the problem of overdoses, and it goes on and on. We could do a whole show on that. (Source: CNBC 1st-tier debate Oct 28, 2015)

"Start Talking": Do you know about this? We've got a lot of new members here. If a young person hears "do not do drugs," there is a 50 percent less chance they will ever do it. A 50 percent less chance. Now, in your districts, you can spread it. We've spoken now, I think--well, I know the last time I checked--to over 26,000 kids. We've gotten teachers involved. And, ladies and gentlemen that are here in Wilmington, I don't care where you are. You're in a restaurant? You walk over there and you see those kids. You tell them to stay off the drugs. [Look at] the tsunami of trouble we have in this community because of addiction. We need to be in our schools. We need to be in our communities. We need to be in our synagogues. We need to be in our churches. We need to be everywhere. Don't leave it to somebody else. (Source: State of the State address to 2015 Ohio Legislature , Feb 24, 2015 )


Martin O'Malley

O'Malley's Drug Policy (section page)

Drug Overdose and Addiction

  • Reduce deaths from drug overdose by 25% by 2020 (MOW-AT)
  • Establish a national dashboard to monitor the overdose and addiction problem, track nationwide responses, and target resources to increase access to critical services (MOW-AT)
    • Create and adopt a national strategy to reduce addiction to fentanyl (a deadly narcotic laced into heroin) within 100 days of taking office
  • Stop the over-prescription of pain medications (MOW-AT)
    • Require physician training on pain prescribing
    • Strengthen prescription drug monitoring programs
    • Support patient education on pain
  • Expand access to treatment (MOW-AT)
    • Expand access to Naloxone (a reversal drug used to treat overdoses from heroin and prescription opioids)
    • Equip all first responders with Naloxone and ensure all hospitals and first responders can quickly direct patients to effective addiction treatment options
    • Increase funding for effective therapies
    • Expand coverage of proven treatments under Medicare and Medicaid
    • Assure every veteran access to treatment within 12 hours
  • Invest in community resources for recovery (MOW-AT)
    • Implement a public health response to addiction
    • Support community services
    • Launch a national campaign to reduce the stigma associated with drug addiction


  • Supports the decriminalization of the possession of small amounts of marijuana (DP)
  • Supports the legalization of medical marijuana (DP)
  • Wants to reclassify marijuana as a Schedule II drug (DP)

Jeb Bush

Bush's Drug Policy (section page)

On marijuana legalization

Jeb bush openly opposes the legalization of marijuana, voting in florida to ban medical marijuana, but ultimately believes that it is a state decision. He says in reference to marijuana " what goes on in Colorado as far as i'm concerned should be a state decision"(RD-2)

Strengthen Criminal Justice

Jeb Bush wants to enact stronger reprimands for violent drug traffickers, while giving non-violent offenders proper treatment and reducing mandatory sentences so they can get back to their community quicker.(JBW-DC)

Hillary Clinton

Clinton's Drug Policy (section page):

  • Stop imprisoning marijuana users
    • She has not taken a position about legalizing recreational marijuana. She supports the use of medical marijuana. She believes that we have got to stop imprisoning people who use marijuana. She urges more states, cities, and the federal government to begin to address this so that we don't have this terrible result of a huge population in our prisons for nonviolent, low-level offenses that are primarily due to marijuana. (DD1)

Mike Huckabee

Huckabee's Drug Policy (section page)

Adapted from On The Issues:

Drug courts reduce both cost & recidivism

Drug courts provide one example of tried & true reform. With drug courts, a nonviolent drug offender can be directed to enroll in drug treatment program with comprehensive and intensive supervision, particularly as they reenter the community. Naturally, any violation of good behavior during this period results in prison. However, if the individual successfully completes drug rehabilitation and demonstrates responsible behavior over a period of time, the court would expunge that person's record.

1999: doubled methamphetamine sentences

Q: Has Mitt Romney said anything that’s untrue about you? A: How long do we have on the program today? He’s said many things that are untrue. He said that I reduced methamphetamine sentences in Arkansas. Truth is I signed a bill in 1999 that doubled those sentences. We did not reduce them. Our sentences were four times harsher than they were in Massachusetts. He said that I supported special breaks for illegal aliens. That’s not true. We supported simply giving children who had earned a scholarship the same--it never happened, it didn’t make the legislature. He made allegations that our increased spending by ridiculous amounts, and The New York Times came back and defended that, and said that’s just simply not true. And they took him apart and showed that the increases in spending were, frankly, the same if not a little better than his if you took into consideration the accounting methods we changed in Arkansas, very modest gains in spending.

More drug courts & rehab, instead of incarceration

We really don’t have so much a crime problem in this country. We have a drug and alcohol problem. 80% of the people who are in our prisons and jails are there for a drug or alcohol crime. They either were high or drunk when they committed the crime, or they committed the crime to get high or drunk. And what has made a huge mistake is that we’ve incarcerated so many of the people who really need drug rehab more than they need long-term incarceration.

Drug education fails; drug punishment works

A clash of worldviews is going to occur between those who think man is basically good and those who say man is basically self-centered.

Supports drug courts for non-violent drug offendors

80% of all those incarcerated were there because of drugs or alcohol; and were drunk or high when they committed their crime, or committed the crime in order to get drunk or high. We don’t have a crime problem; we have a drug and alcohol problem.

Stricter penalties for drug-related crimes

  • Strengthen penalties and sentences for drug-related crimes.
  • Support the .08 blood-alcohol-content limit defining drunk driving.
  • Implement penalties other than incarceration for certain non-violent offenders.
  • Support programs to provide prison inmates with vocational and job-related skills and job-placement assistance when released.

Treatment for drug use instead of incarceration

We’ll ask for drug courts to be expanded because it makes more sense to treat people with a drug problem rather than simply incarcerating them and putting them in a place where their problems are not dealt with. That’s one of our initiatives.

Informational videos don't work and never will

How can we change a drug-addicted culture? Do we say, "If these people weren't poor, or if they only knew what drugs did, then they wouldn't be doing this"? If so, you'd prepare a bunch of informational videos and explain the danger. And in fact, that is just what much of government has been doing. And has it worked? No. Will it ever work? No. Why not? Because talking drugs appeals to the self-centered, pleasure-seeking people we are by nature.

Curb supply by eradication; change attitudes to curb demand

In order to curb the flow of illegal drugs, we must work to [eradicate] the supply and at the same time diminish the demand by changing the public’s attitude toward drugs.

More federal funding for all aspects of Drug War

To reduce the presence of illegal drugs, drug-related organized crime, and the adverse effects of drug and alcohol abuse in society requires a comprehensive strategy involving federal, state, and local governments. The Governors believe that one of the most severe public health threats is the recent rise in substance abuse among children.

  • The Federal Role
    • The profits from illicit drug trafficking can be effectively used to help state efforts to dry up the demand for these drugs. The nation’s Governors urge the President and Congress to fully fund drug and alcohol abuse education, drug courts, treatment, prevention, and law enforcement efforts, including the initiative to combat and clean up methamphetamine production laboratories, at the state and local levels of government.
  • Intensified Eradication and Interdiction
    • Federal funding for use of the National Guard in drug and border enforcement deserves continued support. The Governors urge the President and Congress to utilize the role of U.S. military forces in interdiction efforts.
  • High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area Program.
    • The HIDTA program provides additional federal funds to those areas to help federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations invest in infrastructure and joint initiatives to dismantle drug trafficking organizations. Governors support the HIDTA initiative and urge Congress to continue supporting the program.
  • The Federal Role in Reducing International Drug Trafficking.
    • The nation’s Governors urge the Administration and Congress to significantly tighten procedures for certifying foreign countries for eligibility to receive U.S. aid based on their cooperation with U.S. surveillance, interdiction, and eradication efforts.
  • Drug Legalization
    • The nation’s Governors believe illicit drug legalization is not a viable alternative, either as a philosophy or as a practical reality.

Marco Rubio

Rubio's Drug Policy (section page)

Timid about reducing sentences for drug crimes as opposed to his fellow republicans who call for immediate revision

  • Only medical marijuana and will not get behind it for recreational use (Washington Post)
  • The federal should supersede state legalization of marijuana (OTI)