Newsbrief: Campaign Watch -- Nader on Drugs 2/27/04

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Long-time public interest crusader and 2000 Green Party presidential candidate Ralph Nader announced Sunday that he is running again this year, this time as an independent. While his candidacy has created controversy among foes of President Bush as to whether it would more help Bush or his Democratic opponent, one thing is clear: Nader's position on drug policy is light-years more advanced than either Bush's or any of the front-running Democratic candidates.

Here is Nader's issue statement on drug policy, from the Nader campaign's web site (http://www.votenader.org/issues/):

Wants to end the war on drugs

The drug war has failed -- we spend nearly $50 billion annually on the drug war and problems related to drug abuse continue to worsen. We need to acknowledge that drug abuse is a health problem with social and economic consequences. Therefore, the solutions are -- public health, social services and economic development and tender supportive time with addicts in our depersonalized society. Law enforcement should be at the edges of drug control not at the center. It is time to bring some illegal drugs within the law by regulating, taxing and controlling them. Ending the drug war will dramatically reduce street crime, violence and homicides related to underground drug dealing.

In a related position statement on civil liberties, Nader also called for "the restoration of civil liberties, repeal of the Patriot Act," and an end to draconian practices associated with the "war on terror," but which seem to also have a way of leaking into drug prosecutions. He also warned of a "perilous diminishment of judicial authority in favor of concentrated power in the executive branch," words that would warm the hearts of embattled federal judges forced to mete out assembly-line harsh sentences.

And in his position statement on reforming the criminal justice system, Nader emphasized crime prevention through education, rehabilitation, and investing in neighborhoods and communities, while criticizing the nation's swollen prison system. "To reverse this, we need to invest in humane treatment, personal involvement of youngsters, and job creation," said the statement. "We need to restore sentencing discretion to judges by repealing mandatory sentences and arbitrary 'three-strikes' laws. We also need to restore due process, judicial discretion and constitutional restraints on law enforcement that violate equal protection and due process of law." And he opposed the death penalty for good measure.

With Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich, the only Democratic presidential contender with anything approaching a progressive drug policy, failing to win support at the polls, with Sens. Kerry and Edwards only grudgingly and hesitatingly moving toward a progressive position on the most innocuous of issues, medical marijuana, and with President Bush and his criminal justice apparatus prosecuting the drug war full speed ahead, Nader is the only candidate headed to the November ballot who says he wants to end the war on drugs. The Libertarian Party traditionally has a strong anti-prohibitionist platform, but it does not choose a nominee until May. Aaron Russo (http://www.russoforpresident.com), perhaps the best known of the candidates for the party's nomination, only mentions support for medical marijuana on his web site.

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Issue #326, 2/27/04 Editorial: Needless Danger | Nevada Voters to Get Second Chance to Legalize Marijuana | New York: Medical Marijuana on the Move in Albany and NYC | South Dakota "Internal Possession" Drug Law Upheld | Newsbrief: US 9th Circuit Denies Federal Appeal in Medical Marijuana Case | Newsbrief: Campaign Watch -- Nader on Drugs | Newsbrief: Utah Federal Judge Questions Mandatory Minimums | Newsbrief: South Carolina Urine Felon Jailed for Six Months | Newsbrief: Psychedelic Pioneer Humphry Osmond Dead at 86 | Newsbrief: California Narcs Kill Wrong Man | Newsbrief: Hempster Becomes Local Hero in Icy Pond Rescue | This Week in History | The Reformer's Calendar
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