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1998 Ron Paul Chapter 45

Federal War On Drugs Bad Idea

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5 May 1998


1998 Ron Paul 45:1
Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume.

1998 Ron Paul 45:2
Mr. Speaker, I rise in opposition to this bill, not so much in any objection to what the goals are. The goals are very laudable. The first time I read this resolution, I was in agreement with everything until the very end. Then I had some disagreements with it.

1998 Ron Paul 45:3
I have taken this time so I would have adequate time to explain my position and why I oppose this bill. Obviously, this country is facing a serious problem with drugs. As a physician, I can attest to it. We have major problems in this country, something should be done. But I thought it was necessary to take some time to point out that what we have done for 20 to 25 years has not been all that good. And I see this resolution as an endorsement of the status quo, not an introduction of one single new idea about how to approach this problem. And it is for this reason that I have taken this time to try to get people to think about maybe an alternative some day that we might look at, because so far the spending of the money and the abuse of our civil liberties that has occurred with the war on drugs has not accomplished a whole lot.

1998 Ron Paul 45:4
I object strongly to the Federal approach to law enforcement. That is one of the major issues I have contention with. When we think about when we tried to make a better world in 1919, and we thought we should prohibit certain substances being used in this country, in those days we had enough respect for the Constitution that we actually believed then that we should amend the Constitution, and we did and we had an experiment and after 14 years of a failed program, we repealed that amendment on alcohol.

1998 Ron Paul 45:5
In 1937, it was decided that possibly we should restrict marijuana, even for medical use, and even then it was not assumed that this was a Federal prerogative. It was not banned, it was not outlawed. It was still assumed that it was the responsibility of the States to deal with problems of drugs and marijuana and law enforcement.

1998 Ron Paul 45:6
In 1937, and I am sure some of my conservative colleagues might be interested in this because it was the great FDR who decided to impose a great tax on marijuana, putting $100 tax on a pound of marijuana, essentially making it illegal. And even today those States who would like to legalize marijuana even for the sick and dying AIDS patients and the cancer patients are not even permitted to. It is because we have carelessly assumed that all regulation and all controls and all policing activities should be done here in Washington.

1998 Ron Paul 45:7
I am here just to suggest quite possibly our attack on drugs has not been correct, that we have possibly made some mistakes. Maybe we spent some money that we have not gotten our dollars’ worth. Maybe we are going in the wrong direction.

1998 Ron Paul 45:8
It is estimated that we have spent over $200 billion in the last 25 years fighting drugs. And yet it is the same old thing again. Play on the emotions of the people, condemn drug usage, which I do. As I said as a physician, I know they are horrible. But as a politician and somebody in the legislature, we should think about the efficiency and the effectiveness of our laws.

1998 Ron Paul 45:9
The evidence quite frankly is not there to show that we are doing a very good job. And even though I commend the individuals who are promoting this legislation, the motivations are there, the desires are there, but I think, in my view, that it is the same old program of the Federal war on drugs that has a lot of shortcomings.

1998 Ron Paul 45:10
The first “whereas” of this resolution, I strongly agree with. It says, “Whereas recently revealed statistics demonstrate America is not winning the battle to keep young Americans drug-free.” This is my point. This is conceded by everyone. We are not winning this fight, so why pursue the same policies over and over again, and especially since there are some shortcomings with the policy. Not only have they not been effective, there are some serious shortcomings, shortcomings on civil liberty and property rights and other things.

1998 Ron Paul 45:11
We ought to put the war on drugs in a proper perspective. Yes, it is easy to talk about a heroin addict and a crime committed and people narrowing in on one instance, but we ought to look at this in a proper manner.

1998 Ron Paul 45:12
There is talk that there are 20,000 deaths with illegal drugs. But that, in the best of my estimates, includes all the violent drugs which, to me, are a consequence of the war on drugs.

1998 Ron Paul 45:13
I have statistics that say there is about 6,000 people who die from overdosing and taking illegal drugs. A horrible figure. It is horrible. Nobody should be using these drugs. But let us put this in a different perspective.

1998 Ron Paul 45:14
We lose 37,000 people on highways every year, government-managed highways. And 36,000 people die each year from guns. But we do not take the guns away from the innocent people because there are gun accidents and gun deaths. It is 36,000 in comparison to 6,000.

1998 Ron Paul 45:15
There is one other figure that is astounding that was in the media, recorded in the media here the last couple of days. The medical profession has a responsibility here. It is estimated that we are losing 106,000 people a year. These are reports from 1994; 106,000 a year from drug reactions, legal prescription drugs coming from doctors.

1998 Ron Paul 45:16
If we want to go after a problem, let us go after the highways, let us go after the guns, let us go after the drug reaction. What about alcohol? There are 200,000 deaths, approximately, from alcohol. But do we come here and propose that we go back to prohibition? No. We do not. It is a serious problem. It is really the big problem.

1998 Ron Paul 45:17
Cigarette killing may be up to 400,000 a year. But if we make the suggestion that we want to go after them, then we have a President that says, yes, we will go after the kids that are taking a puff on the cigarette and apply the same rules.

1998 Ron Paul 45:18
There are 10 million new cases of sexually transmitted diseases diagnosed each year. It is probably higher because most of those cases do not get reported. So that is a serious problem. I mean, look for serious problems.

1998 Ron Paul 45:19
To dwell on the drug war and casually and carelessly violate civil liberties, as we so often do, and have confiscation and seizure of property that we just blow it off because we are fighting the drug war, I think we are going in the wrong direction. We need some new ideas and new proposals on this drug war. I hope today to have time to make some of these suggestions on what we might do about the drug war.

1998 Ron Paul 45:20
Former HEW Secretary Joseph Califano said, not too long ago, he was comparing the drug war to the problem of alcohol, he said: The drug war is a grain of sand compared to alcohol.

1998 Ron Paul 45:21
If we look at the college issue, the overwhelming drug that is a problem on college campuses is alcohol. Yet, 99 percent of our concerns and our expression of horror is directed toward a narrower group of people; that is, on the illegal drugs.

1998 Ron Paul 45:22
Why might it be that we dwell on the illegal drugs? Alcohol of course is legal, but why would it be that maybe this Congress might not be as aggressive against the abuses of alcohol and the deaths? If we have compassion, should we show less compassion to the 200,000 people dying of alcohol deaths or the 400,000 dying from cigarette deaths? But we do.

1998 Ron Paul 45:23
It just happens that those who produce alcohol happen to come to Washington quite frequently. They make donations to candidates. They have a lobby. They do have a presence here in Washington. Not only those who make the alcohol, but what about the hotels or the restaurants?

1998 Ron Paul 45:24
I mean, if we even thought about doing anything or saying anything about alcohol, of course we would hear from the hotels and the restaurants, and maybe rightfully so, if we argue that people have a right to have a glass of wine with their dinner in their hotel or restaurant. But the point I am trying to make is that we dwell on certain things out of proportion to its danger.

1998 Ron Paul 45:25
Also, one reason why we might not talk about the tremendous abuse with alcohol is the fact that, quite possibly, a few Members of Congress actually participate in using such a thing. There are now probably 13 million people in this United States suffering from abuse or alcoholism, a serious, serious number.

1998 Ron Paul 45:26
Now, there is a lot more that has to be said, especially if we can someday open up the debate and go in a new direction, have some new ideas dealing with the drug program. But I want to pause here for a minute, and I want to emphasize just one thing; that is, that, constitutionally, it was never intended that the Federal Government fight the war on drug. And they never did until recent years. For 25 years now, we have done it. We have spent $200 billion.

1998 Ron Paul 45:27
It is failing, and we are not willing to stand up and say, hey, maybe we are doing something wrong. Maybe we ought to have another idea. Maybe we ought to have a new approach.

1998 Ron Paul 45:28
I think when we talk about not only looking at this outer perspective of other problems that we have in the country, but also the serious consequences of the drug laws which we all should be concerned about because it involves property rights and civil liberty rights, maybe we can get around to the point of saying maybe could there be a new approach.

1998 Ron Paul 45:29
Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time.
Notes:

1998 Ron Paul 45:1 Mr. Speaker, I yield myself such time as I may consume. Ron Paul was given control over the opposition debate time in 1998 Ron Paul Chapter 44.

1998 Ron Paul 45:12 all the violent drugs probably should be all the violent deaths.

1998 Ron Paul 45:26 it was never intended that the Federal Government fight the war on drug. probably should be plural, it was never intended that the Federal Government fight the war on drugs.

1998 Ron Paul 45:29 Mr. Speaker, I reserve the balance of my time. Ron Paul uses more time in 1998 Ron Paul Chapter 46.

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