Bush on Drugs: The New President Speaks Up to CNN 1/26/01

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In a little-noted and far-ranging interview with then President-elect George W. Bush on January 18th, CNN Senior Political Correspondent Candy Crowley elicited some of the most direct comments on drug policy yet heard from the new Commander in Chief. Below are excerpts from Bush's remarks.

On sentencing drug offenders:

"I think a lot of people are coming to the realization that maybe long minimum sentences for the first-time users may not be the best way to occupy jail space and/or heal people from their disease. And I'm willing to look at that."

On the crack vs. powder cocaine sentencing disparity:

"Well, I mean, that ought to be addressed by making sure the powder cocaine and the crack cocaine penalties are the same. I don't believe we ought to be discriminatory. I mean, I think we ought to be sending a clear signal."

On drug use and drug treatment:

"My point to you on the drug use is that one of the things we've got to do a better job of in our society is helping people cure themselves of an illness."

"Addiction to alcohol or addiction to drugs is an illness. And we have not done a very good job, thus far, of curing people from that illness. And that's one of the reasons why I believe so strongly in faith-based programs to help people change their lives, which would then change their habits."

"One of the things we have got to make sure of in our society is that our drug prevention programs are effective."

On racial profiling:

"My attitude is we ought to ban racial profiling. And I'm convinced that every mayor in America wants to ban racial profiling. I don't think people want racial profiling in America. I don't believe that."

"I think what the federal government can do is work with states and local jurisdictions to help gather the data to make sure racial profiling is not occurring, and if it is, encourage local folks to address the situation. I am absolutely opposed to racial profiling... I think the best way to get at the root of it... is to first understand if it exists. So the federal government can help collect the data necessary to make the right choice."

On perceptions of injustice in the criminal justice system:

"Well, first it's real and if a lot of people believe it's real, that, in itself is reality. In other words, if people feel like our criminal justice system is unfair, then we'd better look at the reasons why, the underlying concerns."

"I do believe there are some in our society who don't think this criminal justice system is fair; that don't believe the American experience is really meant for everybody. They hear Republicans like me talk about prosperity and they say, well, he doesn't really mean it for me, and that concerns me."

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Issue #170, 1/26/01 Strange Days in the Land of Enchantment: Drug Reform Groups Play Key Role as Battle Over Gov. Johnson's Package Heats Up | Pataki Fleshes Out Rockefeller Drug Law Reform Package | Clinton Commutes a Few More Drug Sentences at Last Minute | Columbia: New Administration in Washington, Same Old Game? | Chapare, Bolivia Community Charges Torture and Human Rights Violations by US-funded Anti-Drug Force | New RAND Study Finds Federal Agencies Overstate Drug Treatment and Prevention Spending | Belgium Decriminalizes Marijuana for Personal Use, Users Must Grow Their Own or Buy it in the Netherlands, Says Government | New Zealand Parliament Again Reviewing Cannabis Laws | Bush on Drugs: The New President Speaks Up to CNN | Calling All Activists: Ashcroft, Hemp | The Reformer's Calendar: LA, Philly, Portland, New York, DC, SF, Minneapolis, St. Petersburg, Fort Bragg, Miami, Amsterdam, New Delhi
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