Wednesday, October 7, 2009

California Gubernatorial Candidate Says Drug War an "Abject Failure"

Current San Francisco mayor and candidate for the Democratic nomination to be California's next governor Gavin Newsom held an online town hall meeting on Tuesday, taking questions from viewers via Facebook.

One question focused on the "war on drugs" and marijuana decriminalization. Mayor Newsom took the opportunity to reiterate his longstanding opposition to punitive drug policies, stating, "I really feel strongly about the drug war being an abject failure. If you can point to huge evidence that drug polices in this country have worked, I'd love to see that evidence." The mayor wrapped up by saying, "Low-level marijuana possession, with all due respect to those that will use this video to attack me, is not a top priority for my current job and role as mayor and hasn't been, nor would it be as governor."

The discussion begins at about 30 seconds in to this clip here:

We at LEAP have seen how the public is more than ready for straight-talking politicians who aren't needlessly afraid of pushing for reform. We don't doubt at all that this will be a benefit -- and do no harm whatsoever -- to Newsom's campaign. Especially since 56 percent of California voters support fully legalizing, regulating and taxing marijuana sales.

Please note that LEAP, as a nonprofit organization, cannot and does not endorse political candidates. This post merely constitutes analysis on the likely effects of one candidate's statements. As an advocacy organization, we look forward to reporting similarly positive statements from any and all candidates.


  1. off-topic. had to comment on your little poll about whether legalizing cocaine and heroin would encourage people to use them. anyways, people need to know that the 'yes' answers are just fine. i voted yes. i don't even regularly use coke or horse, and if i felt like i wanted to, i would use a mild dose and not going overboard and OD to get my bell rung every night. i've spent a year hardcore with crystal and had no problem dropping it like a bad habit. it's about responsibility, and you should be free to 'experiment' or use whatever you want, so long as you're fully informed and thoughtful, and behavior follows suit.

    when people hear about legalization of even hard drugs, they're always faced with the talk of how people using hard drugs will be 'rehabilitated' and such. what if some people can responsibly use hard drugs? i'd hope it would be up to the individual whether or not they want to be rehabilitated. i certainly wouldn't want some low-level government worker keeping tabs on me and my drug usage. let me grow my cannabis, coca, morning glories and poppies in peace.

    the HARD drugs will ALWAYS have a place in society, don't ever forget that. for as much bad as they can be identified with in the wrong persons hands, just as much good can be observed in the careful hands the enlightened, thoughtful individual.

    to each their own. be safe, and stay peaceful.
    <3 dj bath

  2. Heres2eternity - thanks for the comments, and thanks for adding the LEAP blog through Google Friend Connect.

    I once spoke to a drug policy researcher about the distinction between soft and hard drugs, and he suggested it was misleading. Cocaine for example, can be ingested through chewing coca leaves or drinking coca tea... the effect is a mild stimulant, like drinking coffee. So is this person a hard or soft drug user? Food for thought...

    The main point about rehab is that legalization and regulation would free up a lot of money for people who do want help. Right now I deal with people on the street all the time who want to get into detox or rehab but the waiting list is too long. So, my line of thinking is that no one would be forced into rehab but treatment on demand would be available for those who want it.

  3. Another thing we need to remember about the so-called "hard drugs" is that prohibition plays a major part in their irresponsible use. Again, the correlation with alcohol prohibition is a direct one. During prohibition, production of low-alcohol drinks declined steeply in favor of moonshine and other high-proof concoctions, often produced using dangerous methods, adulterated, contaminated, etc.

    Same thing here. It only makes sense for a drug dealer to get the highest potentcy-to-volume ratio possible. This decreases chances of interdiction, the complexity of storage and distribution, etc etc. Crack is a direct result of prohibition. So are the ever-increasing purity levels we see in street cocaine and heroin. Not to mention the dangerous, sometimes deadly adulterants that are added to street drugs for a better "kick".

    I agree with the first commenter: voodoo pharmacology is a myth. There is no substance on earth that cannot be used responsibly; it all depends on the person making the choice. As with every other area of drug policy, prohibition needlessly erodes this fact of human nature.

  4. Bottom Line is that Drug Prohibition Exacerbates x 30 the Negative Impact of Drugs Period. Education, education, education followed by Decriminalization and Sensible Regulations to protect the Most Vulnerable followed by Substance Abuse Counseling on Demand (can be totally paid by taxes on sales)
    Prohibition only Helps two Entities; Criminals and the Prison/Legal/Judicial Indu strial Complex. We have Real Criminals (as in real Evil Doers)to go after. Don't let another Cop be hurt Enforcing the Unenforceable. Man (and many animals!) ahve been getting High for Millenia and will continue to do so.

  5. Just because something is legal does not mean everyone will rush out and do it. If you weren't inclined toward using drugs before, it's highly unlikely you would be if they were suddenly legal either.

  6. Many recent polls show Gavin Newsom behind Jerry Brown in the primaries. We HAVE to equalize this somehow.

  7. I think the worst thing about this voodoo pharmacology is that in many cases you are getting the same drugs prescribed. As a chronic pain patient (who will not discuss conditions that will mark me) I know all to well that street drugs are cheaper than Rx. When I lost insurance, I could safely use milligrams of h in place of the morphine or hydromorphone I could no longer afford yet had a Rx for. Even more sad is that I could buy illegally sold Rx for less than I would pay at the pharmacy. Of course I would prefer the safe and known pure painkillers, but in a county that values money over citizens, I don't have that luxury.

  8. I believe Mr. Newsom may have just gotten my vote. I do like straight talk.

    Regarding "soft" versus "hard" drugs, I am quite certain that Drug Prohibition has directly caused many Midwesterners to try the available methamphetamine as opposed to the hard-to-obtain homegrown marijuana they had used recreationally for years.



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