Newt Gingrich Outlines Views on Drug Policy

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In an interesting interview with Yahoo News, Newt Gingrich, currently leading in some polls for the Republican nomination, spoke about his stance on drug policy. In typical politician fashion, he had something for everyone and it’s hard to really pin down just what policies he would and wouldn’t promote.

For instance, while Newt said he believed that drug addiction should be made more of a burden on users by advocating additional drug testing in the workplace and to receive benefits, he also said that imprisonment wasn’t the best solution, saying, “I don't think actually locking up users is a very good thing.” Perhaps it’s a nuanced approach of more enforcement followed by treatment instead of what may seem at first blush as pandering to the law and order part of his party along with moderates.

Admittedly, drug policy is a complex subject.

A similar black/white think is required when federal verses state enforcement comes up. On the one hand, Mr. Gingrich seems to believe that those who need marijuana shouldn’t be denied it, while criticizing California for a program out of control. The touchstone of State’s rights is exempted when he says he would continue federal enforcement of drug laws, including marijuana. Mr. Gingrich sees a patchwork of state laws dealing with drugs as allowing interstate smuggling or border crossing to obtain drugs. This situation overrides concerns about states deciding on their own what should and shouldn’t be legal.

He seems clear on at least one issue – drug dealers deserve even harsher sentences. He did back off from calling for the death penalty for trafficking, except in the case of drug cartel leaders.

The tone of the interview was captured in this quote, “I don't have a comprehensive view. My general belief is that we ought to be much more aggressive about drug policy. And that we should recognize that the Mexican cartels are funded by Americans.”

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