Ralph Nader on Drugs

Failed War on Drugs endangers communities

Q. How would a Nader administration address drug trafficking?

A. Our failed war on drugs is endangering our communities, imperiling police, wasting tens of billions of dollars and, because it is criminalizing what is a health problem instead of rehabilitation for drug addicts, is filling our prisons at $40,000 a prisoner and making the corporate-prison industry even richer. The way to go is to look at drug addiction as a rehabilitation challenge, focus on youngsters in terms of prevention, have community policing where the police work and live in the community, which is the best way to make a community safe, and decriminalize marijuana so we can begin to move this into a rehabilitation-health problem.

Source: John Ellis, The Fresno (CA) Bee Oct 22, 2000

Legalize marijuana, and treat addiction as a health problem

Nader spoke out for the legalization of marijuana. “Addiction should never be treated as a crime. It has to be treated as a health problem. We do not send alcoholics to jail in this country. Over 500,000 people are in our jails who are nonviolent drug users.” For other drugs, like heroin, he advocated programs like methadone maintenance and needle exchanges that focus on treatment of addiction and prevention of health problems.
Source: NY Times Sep 9, 2000

Treat hemp like poppy seeds, not like heroin

Nader criticized federal agencies for making it difficult for farmers to grow and market industrial hemp. Nader also spoke out against a recent raid on a South Dakota Indian reservation in which federal agents seized at least 2,000 plants described as industrial-grade hemp plants by the crop’s owner. Hemp cannot be grown commercially in the US because it belongs to the same family as marijuana, although Nader pointed out that the levels of hallucinogenic THC are far lower in hemp than in marijuana. “It is analogous to consuming poppy seed bagels or nonalcoholic beer,” he said. Nader said the DEA is proposing new rules that would require a product containing any amount of THC to be classified a “Schedule I” controlled substance, the same category as heroin and LSD. Exceptions would be made for industrial hemp products not intended for human consumption, such as paper, clothing, or rope. While American farmers are barred from growing hemp, manufacturers can import it.
Source: Boston Globe, “Campaign Notebook” Sep 6, 2000

Remove industrial hemp from DEA drug list

In Hawaii, we visited one of the only 2 plots in the US legally permitted to grow industrial hemp, that versatile plant with thousands of uses, including textiles, fuel, food & paper. A fraction of an acre was surrounded by barbed wire fence, saturation night lights inside a larger fenced area. This medieval experience brought home once again that for the sake of farmers, the environment, consumers and energy independence, it is necessary to free industrial hemp from the proscribed list of the DEA.
Source: Nomination Acceptance Speech Jun 25, 2000

Replace Drug War with treatment and alternative sentencing

Source: Green Party Platform, as ratified at the National Convention Jun 25, 2000

Supports legalization of industrial hemp

On marijuana legalization: “If you know anyone who got high on industrial hemp, tell the National Science Foundation and you’ll get a prize for the most unlikely scientific discovery ever. George Bush’s father was saved by a parachute made of industrial hemp.”
Source: Campaign Speech, Hartford Public Library, Hartford CT May 16, 2000

Solution to addiction is information, not prohibition

Q: Do you think that cigarettes should be illegal?

A: No. You never prohibit an addiction because what you do is you drive it underground and a huge black market occurs. What you do with an addiction is expose the addicters to massive information, protect them from deceptive advertising, protect the young from being sold such [things] as tobacco products. Keep the research up to make whatever tobacco is consumed less lethal in terms of nicotine and other levels and increasingly make it socially stigmatized so that people often will stop smoking or won’t smoke, not because it’s bad for their health, but because it’s no longer the thing to do. When I was in college, non-smokers were on the defensive. The smokers would blow smoke derisively in non-smokers’ faces. You’d never see that today.

Source: David Frost interview Oct 21, 1994

Other candidates on Drugs: Ralph Nader on other issues:
George W. Bush
Dick Cheney
Al Gore
Bill Clinton
Jesse Ventura
Ross Perot
Ralph Nader
Pat Buchanan
John McCain
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