June 28th, 2007
09:51 PM ET
7 years ago

Gravel just says 'no' to war on drugs

WASHINGTON (CNN) - Former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel said in Thursday's Democratic presidential forum that the "war on drugs" has been a "failure" similar to Prohibition, and vowed to end the effort as president. 

 "If I'm president, I'll do away with the war on drugs, which does nothing but savage our inner cities and put our children at risk," said Gravel. "When will we learn that the issue of drugs is a public health issue? Addiction is a public health issue,  not a criminal issue where we throw people in jail and criminalize them to no advantage to the people."

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. iagree, Portsmouth, Va

    Yes! Exactly!!!! Go to places like Amsterdam! We are dealing with the issue in the wrong way!

    June 28, 2007 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  2. Brad, Tucson, AZ

    Finally, a candidate with something real to say. Police officials never put away enough "dealers", bigtime or small time, to make a dent. The vast majority of drug/narcotics offenses are user/possesion based offenses...

    This was never a war on drugs, but a war on us..the people

    June 28, 2007 10:03 pm at 10:03 pm |
  3. Bruce Brooks, Huntingtown, MD

    I strongly support Mike Gravel's position on the failure of the war on drugs. He's absolutely right: it's just like the failure of prohibition.

    June 28, 2007 10:04 pm at 10:04 pm |
  4. Robert Marley, Jamaica, NY

    Finally, a candidate that i can vote 4!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    June 28, 2007 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  5. Anonymous

    Half of the 2 million people in our jail system are in for drug or alcohol-related offenses.

    We are quickly running out of room in our prison system and the violent hard-core offenders get let out early as result.

    The cost of keeping all these people in prison, the court systems, awaiting trials, overtime paid to law enforcement has to be 500 billion.

    He's right, it's not working and we need to de-criminalize drug laws and get people mental/dependency treatment intstead. Most of them have broken families, no support, or way to get help.

    June 28, 2007 10:43 pm at 10:43 pm |
  6. Christopher Nugent, Crystal Lake IL

    How can a guy who seems wacky make so much sense? He is absolutely spot on and brave on the war on drugs. Maybe he wore the Khaki pants tonight to conceal the mighty pair he strapped on before coming on stage.

    June 28, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  7. David Clark

    Who the hell is this guy and is he running for President?

    June 28, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  8. Beverly Langston, Hillsboro Oregon

    Seems Gravel, if anyone will listen has a Lot of good thoughts to debate.
    I have never taken drugs but I am not stupid. What we are doing now does not work. Jail is not the place for anyone who has an addiction, or a mental illness.
    They cant help them selves so we should set up a system to take care of them instead of financeing wars that are illeagel and inmoral. Lets start with the gang in the White house.

    June 28, 2007 11:47 pm at 11:47 pm |
  9. Anonymous

    Yea no doubt this guy doesn't mess around. He is like the Ron Paul of the Democratic primary.

    Wow I was impressed – he was the only one with the guts to go there. The drug war has been destroying our inner cities for decades.

    All that happens is these prisoners get even more in hooked in jail. They get out of jail and go right back into drugs as soon as they are released.

    Worse is that hard-core gangs thrive in the prison system running million dollar operations from their cells. It was outlined on the history channel.

    Thank you Mr. Gravel for speaking out on this issue.

    June 29, 2007 12:52 am at 12:52 am |
  10. jim, Tampa FL

    How does the war on drugs ravage an inner city?

    That's strange...this whole time, I though it was drug ABUSE that ravaged the inner city.

    Can somebody please explain this absurd notion?

    June 29, 2007 08:28 am at 8:28 am |
  11. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Thanks Mr. Gravel. Thanks for going where angels have feared to tread for years. I was wrong: YOU and Dennis are the only honest Democratic presidential candidates.

    June 29, 2007 10:05 am at 10:05 am |
  12. DJ, Los Angeles

    War on Drugs has a devastating effect. When warrants are serving for drug crimes, many times the accused commits suicide rather than have to go to jail.

    There is so much immense profit made in selling drugs, gangs thrive not just in the inner cities but everywhere.

    Look at the facts...the drug war has even corrupted the entire law enforcement system with scores of recent arrests and investigations for cops or border patrol embezzling drug money or the the drugs.

    The jails are so full from drug/alcohol related offenses we can not build new jails fast enough.

    Our prison population is rapidly increasing...this is a very bad sign that the drug war is not working.

    Also that we have much bigger societal issues to examine that are the root cause. You can't end the drug war if the demand (users) of drugs does not diminish.

    Breakdown of American family values, divorce, poverty, glamorization of gangs...there are a lot of issues at work here.

    June 29, 2007 01:10 pm at 1:10 pm |
  13. Mary, Beaver, PA

    Dear Jim in Tampa: The war on drugs is just another Prohibition with the same results: crime and corruption and the lawlessness of otherwise law-abiding citizens. It ravages the inner-cities by taking the market for these products out of the hands of legitimate vendors and into the hands of thugs. The risk involved in handling these products raises their prices so that more money is involved. As more money is involved, the trade becomes more attractive to even more thugs and the price of use more dear to those who can't afford it (so they use any other means at their disposal to attain it). The amount of money involved tempts the weak, the corruptible and the desparate. Thugs compete for the trade and the innocent get hurt. Law enforcement builds empires around enforcement. The weapons they use, the amount of money involved, and the level of contention between all competing, interested parties rises, and more innocent people get hurt. Think about the Prohibition of alcohol and all that it wrought. Do you think Prohibition is over just because other substances besides alcohol are now illegal? Think again.

    June 29, 2007 01:27 pm at 1:27 pm |
  14. DJ, Los Angeles

    I'm not so sure legalization of drugs is the answer.

    However I am convinced that de-criminalization is. We need to get these people some help and try to rehabiliate them.

    Here in L.A. County jails – there are some programs for first offenders to do that. It has been very effective.

    Keep in mind many times this is the FIRST time a lot of these prisoners have ever received any type of counseling.

    The jail system destroys a lot of these people and any hope of them turning their lives around is usually ended.

    Nobody will hire them for felony drug possession records. So basically their lives are over in the real world...have to go right back into crime.

    Again suicide is another tragic consequence for so many.

    June 29, 2007 02:01 pm at 2:01 pm |
  15. Mary Duffy, Rochester, MN

    WOW – that really took guts. Way to go

    July 1, 2007 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |