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Hillary Clinton: Drug Policy Reformer?

This is a week old now, but I think Hillary Clinton's comments at the recent Democratic Presidential debate are worth discussing here:

MR. [DeWayne] WICKHAM: Okay. Okay, please stay with me on this one.

According to FBI data, blacks were roughly 29 percent of persons arrested in this country between 1996 and 2005. Whites were 70 percent of people arrested during this period. Yet at the end of this 10-year period, whites were 40 percent of those who were inmates in this country, and blacks were approximately 38 percent. What does this data suggest to you?


SEN. CLINTON: In order to tackle this problem, we have to do all of these things.

Number one, we do have to go after racial profiling. I’ve supported legislation to try to tackle that.

Number two, we have to go after mandatory minimums. You know, mandatory sentences for certain violent crimes may be appropriate, but it has been too widely used. And it is using now a discriminatory impact.

Three, we need diversion, like drug courts. Non-violent offenders should not be serving hard time in our prisons. They need to be diverted from our prison system. (Applause.)

We need to make sure that we do deal with the distinction between crack and powder cocaine. And ultimately we need an attorney general and a system of justice that truly does treat people equally, and that has not happened under this administration. (Applause.) [New York Times]

Of course, if Clinton truly believes that "non-violent offenders shouldn’t be serving hard time in our prisons," she'll have to look further than diversion programs and repealing mandatory minimums. Still, it's refreshing to hear a democratic front-runner sounding rehearsed on drug policy and criminal justice reform.

Frankly, the principle that non-violent drug offenders shouldn't be doing hard time stands in stark contrast to the drug war status quo. This is a powerful idea, and while Clinton attaches it to politically-safe policy proposals at this point, she sounds ready to have a realistic discussion about the impact of the drug war on communities of color.

Between Mike Gravel's aggressive anti-drug war stance and a near consensus among the other candidates about reforming sentencing practices and prioritizing public health programs, we're seeing rational ideas about drug policy creep slowly into mainstream politics.

I know quite a few pessimistic reformers, and far more that are just impatient. Everyday more people are arrested, jailed, killed, or otherwise stripped of their humanity by this great and unnecessary civil war, and it's depressing as hell to watch these things continue. But moments like this provide a barometer for our progress – slow though it may be – and I don't understand how anyone can look at the last 10 years of drug policy reform and say we're not moving forward.

I don't think our movement needs to change. I think it needs to grow, and indeed it is growing. When Hillary Clinton says "non-violent offenders should not be serving hard time in our prisons," she becomes part of this movement, whether she likes it or not.

(This blog post was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)


United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

That is one hell of a weak way to "become part of this movement"

Ron Paul has done much more for this stop-the-drug-war movement. He has consistently spoken and voted specifically against the drug war and in favor of legalization of cannabis at the very least. Why isn't he mentioned? It's not as if people don't know about him, he's been a congressman for the last 10 years and is the most popular candidate on the internet. But former Senator from the 70s, Gravel, gets mentioned and hillary patted on the back for saying a few nice things.

Well since you asked...

Ron Paul wasn't mentioned because he WASN'T in the democratic debate. He's a republican, technically.

And since you brought it up, we didn't mention him when he debated because HE DIDN'T MENTION DRUG POLICY once. Ron Paul has not used his candidacy to advance drug policy reform, and therefore deserves no recognition from us until he does something to warrant it. Find me anything on his website or in his campaign speeches to dispute this.

Ron Paul has never voted to legalize cannabis, because there's never been such a bill. I don't have a problem with Paul, but he's been a real disappointment as a supposedly anti-prohibition candidate.

Regardless of all that, it should go without saying that what Hillary Clinton says is more significant because she's a front-running candidate.

Ron Paul wouldn't vote to legalize drugs (BUT KEEP READING)

Because he doesn't believe the Federal government has a right to MAKE OR UNMAKE THESE LAWS.

Here's a piece he did... addressed to Congress in 2001 comparing the war on Terror to the Failed Drug War.

He did introduce an industrial hemp farming act that would make farming hemp legal again.

Small steps towards overturning the drug war laws.
Go read up on his drug policies. Please.

As for this campaign...

"I think it's tragic what's happening today in the drug war," Rep. Paul said. "Since the early '70s we've spent maybe $200 to $300 billion on the drug war. That's not been any good. This whole effort on the drug war doesn't make any sense at all to me."

Source -

Please - look further into Ron Paul.
He doesn't put his drug policy on the front line because he would be attacked for being WEAK on drugs and it could destroy his campaign.

Think about this a little more, and see where he stands - AND WHAT he's been DOING in congress to keep the drug wars in check as well as weaken them.

He voted NO against the Amber Alert Act because of the RAVE act rider.

He chose to take on the label of "Child hater" rather than support the drug war.

Do a little more research on their ACTIONS, less on their face value and see what kind of conclusions you can draw.

Ron Paul on drugs

Actually, I don't know if it still is there, but at one time his actual platform or list of beliefs on his website mentioned ending the war on drugs. And, I have heard him talk about ending the drug war several times through legalization so I don't know what your talking about. The only other candidate I've heard go that far is Bill Richardson who is largely responsible for the medical marijuana program we have hear in New Mexico. Hillary Clinton won't do anything to help curtail the waste of money that is the war on drugs. Just look at the administration of her husband and that's about what we'll have with her. That is hardly serious reform.

Ron's record on drugs

This is from a site called "on the issues" concerning Ron Paul's record on drugs:

Ron Paul on Drugs
Republican Representative (TX-14)

Legalize industrial hemp
Paul believes in the legalization of industrial hemp. Paul supported HR 3037 to amend the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of marijuana. This bill would have given the states the power to regulate farming of hemp. The measure would be a first since the national prohibition of industrial hemp farming in the United States. He favors the legalization of marijuana.
Source: Jan 22, 2007

Voted NO on military border patrols to battle drugs & terrorism.
Amendment to set up a task force on counter-terrorism and drug interdiction and allow military personnel to help patrol U.S. borders.
Bill HR 2586 ; vote number 2001-356 on Sep 25, 2001

Voted NO on subjecting federal employees to random drug tests.
Drug Demand Reduction Act: Vote on an amendment to require that anyone hired by the Federal Government is subject to random, unannounced drug testing.
Reference: Amendment by Taylor, D-MS; bill by Portman, R-OH.; Bill HR 4550 ; vote number 1998-443 on Sep 16, 1998

War on Drugs has abused Bill of Rights .
Paul adopted the Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement:

As adopted by the General Membership of the Republican Liberty Caucus at its Biannual Meeting held December 8, 2000.
WHEREAS libertarian Republicans believe in limited government, individual freedom and personal responsibility;
WHEREAS we believe that government has no money nor power not derived from the consent of the people;
WHEREAS we believe that people have the right to keep the fruits of their labor; and
WHEREAS we believe in upholding the US Constitution as the supreme law of the land;

BE IT RESOLVED that the Republican Liberty Caucus endorses the following [among its] principles:
While recognizing the harm that drug abuse causes society, we also recognize that government drug policy has been ineffective and has led to frightening abuses of the Bill of Rights which could affect the personal freedom of any American. We, therefore, support alternatives to the War on Drugs.
Per the tenth amendment to the US Constitution, matters such as drugs should be handled at the state or personal level.
All laws which give license to violate the Bill of Rights should be repealed.
Source: Republican Liberty Caucus Position Statement 00-RLC13 on Dec 8, 2000

Legalize medical marijuana.
Paul sponsored the States' Rights to Medical Marijuana Act:

Title: To provide for the medical use of marijuana in accordance with the laws of the various States. Summary: Transfers marijuana from schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act to schedule II of such Act. Declares that, in a State in which marijuana may be prescribed or recommended by a physician for medical use under applicable State law, no provision of the Controlled Substances Act shall prohibit or otherwise restrict:

the prescription or recommendation of marijuana by a physician for medical use;

an individual from obtaining and using marijuana from a physician's prescription or recommendation of marijuana for medical use; or

a pharmacy from obtaining and holding marijuana for the prescription or recommendation of marijuana by a physician for medical use under applicable State law.

Prohibits any provision of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act from prohibiting or restricting a State entity from producing or distributing marijuana for the purpose of its distribution for prescription or recommendation by a physician in a State in which marijuana may be prescribed by a physician for medical use.
Source: House Resolution Sponsorship 01-HR2592 on Jul 23, 2001

Rated A by VOTE-HEMP, indicating a pro-hemp voting record.
Paul scores A by VOTE-HEMP on pro-hemp legalization policies
VOTE HEMP is a non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for Industrial Hemp. Industrial Hemp is non-psychoactive low THC varieties of the cannabis sativa plant. Currently, it is illegal for U.S. farmers to grow Industrial Hemp because it is improperly classified as a "drug" under the Controlled Substances Act. Since changes in law require shifts in thinking and this requires education in the facts, our primary goal is the education of legislators and regulators, farmers and businesses, students and other concerned citizens.

ron paul's anti prohibition stance is well documented.

Clintion isn't going to do

Clintion isn't going to do anything except turn this country into a third world multicultural socialist state.

Clinton and multicultural socialist state

I'm not the biggest fan of Ms.Clinton, but she would have neither the desire nor the power to turn America into a socialist country. She seems pretty pro-business to me. what rightwing b.s.

Platitudes, platitudes...

La Clinton knows as well as does every pol who's ever been confronted with the issue that the problem stems from prohibition, itself. She, like they, are also keenly aware of the prison/industrial complex's power. Thus, given past opportunities to act (don't tell me she couldn't have bugged ol' Billy about it; she had 8 years) and having failed to do so, I place absolutely no currency in her statements. All she's done is offer watered-down bromides; when she stands up and says that drug prohibition has failed (and specifically says those words) I'll be more inclined to believe her. - nemo

That's a tall order


I always enjoy your analysis, but I have to break with you here. Yes, "prohibition has failed" would be the most honest thing she could say, but we're not there yet. She's just not gonna say that.

Yeah, this is all really weak stuff by DPR standards, but it's good stuff by mainstream political standards. The point is that it's good to hear a front-runner saying things like this. You're right that Bill didn't do anything for reform, nor did he promise to. Hillary is saying things he didn't say, maybe she'd do things he didn't do. They're not exactly joined at the hip.

If she's full of it, that sucks. But it's worth noting that reform talking points are working their way into campaign speeches. That's a good sign.

the same

Go Hillary! To comment on the comments: Despite all of the jokes, Hillary really wasn't president in the 90's. Therefore, she did not necessarily have opportunity to act. (Go bug Billy about it? Come on! Get real.)
And while Ron Paul is exactly what I would be looking for if he would just honestly represent himself, Mr. Morgan is right, he didn't even mention drug policy. And he's running as a Republican. I don't care who it is, I wouldn't vote Republican if you held a gun to my head. It is bad enough I have to settle for Democrats.
Remember, ending prohibition can't realistically happen overnight, or even in a few years. Baby steps are the only way to go...get the opposers used to it, a little at a time. This step she is discussing is one of the most important.

you people make me sad

yes. ron paul has publicly said the drug war is a waste of money during his campaigning.

no. hillary won't do anything more than change the crack/cocaine discrepency.
we'll still be illegal. we'll still do 'hard time'.

if you're so sick of having to vote democrat, then don't vote at all since you don't care who's running. you just see a party flag.

Ron Paul: Stop the Drug War!

[Ron Paul] DIDN'T MENTION DRUG POLICY once [during the debates].

Of course, if he isn't asked, he can't respond. His answer would be consistent with every statement he's ever made on the issue: end the drug war.

Find me anything on his website or in his campaign speeches to dispute this.

From his Congressional site: "Some day we must wake up and realize the federal drug war is a farce, it has failed, and we must change our approach."

Ron Paul has never voted to legalize cannabis, because there's never been such a bill.

He was a co-sponsor of Barney Frank's H.R.2592 supporting state laws legalizing medical marijuana.

... what Hillary Clinton says is more significant because she's a front-running candidate.

Except that she supports the drug war. She just doesn't like the some of the procedures and penalties.

Why not do your own interview with Dr. Paul? I'm sure he will be happy to repeat his position in favor of stopping the drug war, as he has in the past. Aside from Mike Gravel, there is no other Presidential candidate who has taken such a stark and clear position on the issue.

The President doesn't make the laws!

As nice as it would be to have the President behind a reformation of Drug Policy, we saw in the Amnesty Bill vote that the President doesn't pass the laws, Congress does.
If we really want to get the drug laws changed we should support and vote for every Liberatarian Senate and House canidate there is running. Of course we would need enough votes to overide the Presidential Veto which would surely come after reform laws were passed but, it's the only way to get er done.
Try singing this to "My Country Tis of Thee"
My country tis of thee:
once stood for Liberty:
but now she's gone:
She's not found in our laws:
not found in Congress halls:
where politicians have no balls:
Where has she gone?

She's had to run and hide:
some people think she's died:
They may be right:
Your Uncle's hunting her:
He wants to hang her fur:
He'll kill her and that's for sure:
if we don't fight.

So now go out and vote:
not for the same old joke:
Try something new:
The GOP's to blame:
The Democrats are lame:
and neither one is in the game:
of serving you.

Let's put a scare in them:
Vote Libertarian:
change what they sing:
and if we get er done
we'll start to see the Sun:
Put people up in Washington:
who'll let Freedom ring.

Feel free to reprint at your desire.
Peace Out =)

My Country Tis of Thee (new)

Music Tradional German Hymn
Words by a Jefferson Constitutionalist aka Thomas Paine

Clinton racism

Speaking of Hillary Clinton:

There is bad news about her husband.

It is opined that Bill Clinton committed racist hate crimes, and I am not free to say anything further about it.

Respectfully Submitted by Andrew Y. Wang, J.D. Candidate
B.S., Summa Cum Laude, 1996
Messiah College, Grantham, PA
Lower Merion High School, Ardmore, PA, 1993

(I can type 90 words per minute, and there are probably thousands of copies on the Internet indicating the content of this post.)
“If only it were possible to ban invention that bottled up memories so they never got stale and faded.” Off the top of my head—it came from my Lower Merion High School yearbook.

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