The war on drugs has caused much controversy in the United States over the last several decades. How to handle combatting drug use, both abroad and internally, has led to many a debate and many failed policies. While the parties seem to criticize one another greatly over this issue, their overall fundamental beliefs seem rather similar. Instead, it is their implementation strategies that differ. Republican views on drugs strongly resemble the war on drugs as presented by President Bush. Republicans believe that every adult has the responsibility to teach their children about the hazards of drugs, and that drug treatment must be available in schools for those that are able to try to overcome their problems. While they believe that stronger treatment options are essential to the success of an anti-drug campaign, they also believe in stronger enforcement and working harder to prevent drugs from entering the country to begin with.
Republicans also call for stricter federal regulations over marijuana, amongst the rampant state legalizations for medical and recreational use. Republican John Fleming of Louisiana states, “as marijuana is de-stigmatized, use goes up, and it finds its way into the homes and candy and cookies and baked goods, and once it gets there, it finds its way into the brains of teens. Marijuana will also become more pervasive as states continue to embrace permissible laws on medical marijuana and the recreational use of marijuana, and kids and youth will have easier access to the dangerous, addictive drug.”
Republicans and Drug Education
Republicans firmly believe that kids need to be educated on the consequences of doing drugs. Republicans stand firmly behind the idea that “Drug abuse and addiction ruin lives. There can be no debate about it. Every adult has a responsibility to teach children about the dangers of drugs – in terms of both physical harm and potential death, as well as lost opportunities for success.”
Punishment for Drug-Related Crime
Republicans believe in using stricter enforcement as a deterrent to drug use and drug-related crimes. They believe that jail time must be used as a deterrent for drug use, and that it will also increase support for grants to assist with drug testing in schools. However, they do believe that those who wish to seek help should be given the opportunity, stating, “At the same time, we should make drug treatment available to people willing to take the courageous step of admitting they have a problem and working hard to overcome it.” President Bush’s drug policy included vouchers that gave those seeking drug treatment access to health providers, and they wish to see similar policies in effect today. In particular, Republicans wish to see prosecutors actively and aggressively pursue drug dealers, from kingpins to lackeys. They also believe in capital punishment for drug traffickers who take innocent lives.
This isn’t to say that Republicans believe in unfairly cruel drug sentences. However, they do believe in strict yet fair sentencing. The 2012 Republican Party Platform states, ”Our national experience over the last several decades has shown that citizen vigilance, tough but fair prosecutors, meaningful sentences, protection of victims’ rights, and limits on judicial discretion can preserve public safety by keeping criminals off the streets. Liberals do not understand this simple axiom: Criminals behind bars cannot harm the general public. To that end, we support mandatory prison sentencing for gang crimes, violent or sexual offenses against children, repeat drug dealers, rape, robbery and murder… We oppose parole for dangerous or repeat felons…” This sentencing outlook was as true for drugs as it was for any other crime. Likewise, the Republican stance on rehabilitation, that “Prisons should do more than punish; they should attempt to rehabilitate and institute proven prisoner reentry systems to reduce recidivism and future victimization,” holds true for drug criminals as well. In this case, the Republican and Democratic stances are not very different. Both believe that rehabilitation should be present in the prison system, and that as long as a criminal can prove that they have become clean and can stay clean once out, they should be free to reenter society. However, this would require a good deal of strict monitoring during the parole process.
Republicans also believe in diverting first-time, non-violent offenders to drug courts rather than sending them through the prison system. They hope that this approach will allow them to be rehabilitated rather than turning to a criminal career in the drug industry.
Republicans vs. Democrats on Drugs
While the Bush administration worked towards what was called the War on Drugs, they also greatly criticized the Clinton administration for not focusing strongly enough on combatting drug use. The war on drugs successfully reduced drug use among teens, and the 2004 Republican Platform stated, “After witnessing eight years of Presidential inaction on the war against drugs during the prior Administration, we applaud President Bush for his steady commitment to reducing drug use among teens.” However, their criticism of Clinton’s drug policies went much farther than applauding Bush’s reversal of them. The 2000 Republican Party Platform discussed just how much damage a reversal in drug enforcement could cause, stating, “The entire nation has suffered from the administration’s virtual surrender in the war against drugs, but children in poor communities have paid the highest price in the threat of addiction and the daily reality of violence. Drug kingpins have turned entire neighborhoods into wastelands and ruined uncounted lives with their poison. Not surprisingly, teen attitudes toward drug abuse have veered sharply away from disapproval. With abundant supplies in their deadly arsenal, drug traffickers are targeting younger children, as well as rural kids. Still, there is no substitute for presidential leadership, whether internationally or here at home, where America’s families cry out for safe, drug-free schools. A Republican president will hear those cries and work with parents to protect children. We will bring accountability to anti-drug programs, promote those that work, and cease funding for those that waste resources.”
Mitt Romney on Drugs
Drug policy is one issue that Mitt Romney has not spoken extensively about. However, his stance against marijuana legalization makes it seem that he would stand strongly against any leniency on drug issues. In 2008, Romney vowed to fight “tooth and nail” against marijuana legalization. For 2016, he seems to be taking a similar stance, stating “I oppose marijuana being used for recreational purposes and I believe the federal law should prohibit the recreational use of marijuana.” He has not provided a definitive stance on medicinal marijuana. When asked about it in May, he responded, “we’ve got enormous issues we face, but you want to talk about medical marijuana.” During his time as governor of Massachusetts, Romney vetoed a bill allowing pharmacies to provide individuals clean hypodermic needles without a prescription. The bill was intended to stop the spread of infectious diseases, buy Romney argued the program would have “unintended consequences” and encourage the use of heroin.
Donald Trump on Drugs
Donald Trump stands strongly against drugs of all time, and supports stricter sentencing and more law enforcement power going towards the war on drugs. As part of his plan to combat drugs entering the U.S. from Mexico, Trump plans to not only create far stricter border patrol, but to build a wall along the southern border of the United States. Trump has stated multiple times during his campaign that he has never tried controlled substances of any kind, and has said that he strongly opposes legalizing even medical marijuana.
Marco Rubio on Drugs
While many of Marco Rubio’s drug stances sit with the rest of his party, he believes in a stricter world than most other Republicans. While many have criticized the minimum sentencing laws and wish to see first time offenders deferred to drug courts, Rubio believes the opposite, stating, “I personally believe that legalizing drugs would be a great mistake and that any reductions in sentences for drug crimes should be made with great care.” Rubio believes in maintaining stricter sentencing for all offenders, not just repeat or violent offenders.
- Republican Party on Drugs – On The Issues
- Congressional Republicans Rail Against Legalization Of Marijuana – The Huffington Post
- Donald Trump: Legalize ALL the Drugs – The Daily Beast
- How Rubio’s stance on drug laws stands out in GOP presidential field – The Washington Post
- Democratic Views on Drugs
- Republican Views on Marijuana
- Republican Views On Crime
- Democratic Views on Marijuana
- Donald Trump On Immigration
- Donald Trump on Taxes
- Donald Trump on Gay Marriage
- Republican Views on National Security
- Donald Trump on Gun Control
- Democratic Views on Gun Control