On his HBO show last Friday (Nov. 14), Bill Maher asked Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) about remarks he made in 2000 concerning the War on Drugs:
BILL MAHER: “You said in 2000, ‘The War on Drugs is an abysmal failure and a waste of money.’ Are you still on that page?”
RAND PAUL: “I’m absolutely there, and I’ll do everything to end the War on Drugs….
“The War on Drugs has become the most racially disparate outcome that you have in the entire country. Our prisons are full of black and brown kids. Three-fourths of the people in prison are black or brown, and white kids are using drugs, Bill, as you know…at the same rate as these other kids. But kids who have less means, less money, kids who are in areas where police are patrolling… Police are given monetary incentives to make arrests, monetary incentives for their own departments…
“So I want to end the War on Drugs because it’s wrong for everybody, but particularly because poor people are caught up in this, and their lives are ruined by it.”
Paul also strongly defended sentencing reform and restoring voting rights to non-violent former felons.
Paul further indicated his opposition to the federal War on Drugs during an early November discussion on the Washington, D.C. marijuana legalization vote. Paul told Roll Call that he strongly favors getting the federal government out of such matters:
“I’m not for having the federal government get involved. I really haven’t taken a stand on … the actual legalization. I haven’t really taken a stand on that, but I’m against the federal government telling [Washington, DC] they can’t,” Paul said.
“I think there should be a certain amount of discretion for both states and territories and the District. I think really that when we set up our country, we intended that most crime or not crime, things that we determined to be crime or not crimes, was really intended to be determined by localities.”
His father Ron Paul sometimes has taken that position or one similar to it, calling for ending the federal War on Drugs and leaving it up to states to decide whether or not they want to pursue drug prohibition.
This let-the-states-decide position is also the premise upon which alcohol Prohibition was repealed in the 1930s.