Ralph Nader on Drugs
2008 Independent for for President; 2004 Reform nominee; 2000 Green nominee
The drug war has failed, despite $50B annually
Q: Briefly describe Nader’s position on Drug Policy.
A: Nader says, “The drug war has failed--we spend nearly $50 billion annually on the drug war and problems related to drug abuse continue to worsen. We need to acknowledge that drug abuse is a healt
problem with social and economic consequences. It is time to bring some illegal drugs within the law by regulating, taxing and controlling them. Ending the drug war will dramatically reduce violence related to underground drug dealing.”
Source: Green Party 2008 Presidential Candidate Questionnaire
, Feb 3, 2008
Rehabilitation, not incarceration
The criminal justice system is also broken--so badly that one hardly knows where to begin describing the breakdown. We can start with the war on drugs, since commentators across the political spectrum recognize its lunacy.
We pour almost endless resources (roughly $50 billion each year) into catching, trying, and incarcerating people who primarily harm themselves, thereby damaging and endangering communities and draining crucial resources from the police, courts,
and prisons that could be used to combat serious street crime[and Corporate crime] that directly violate the public’s liberty, health, safety, trust, and financial well-being.
As with alcoholics and nicotine addicts, the approach to drug addicts should be rehabilitation, not incarceration.
Source: The Good Fight, by Ralph Nader, p. 47
, Jul 6, 2004
Women targeted by tobacco and alcohol companies
Females have greater smoking-related lung damage than males and are more susceptible to alcohol-induced brain damage, cardiac problems and liver disease. Tobacco and alcohol manufacturers come in for heavy criticism for their practice
of spending billions of dollars each year on advertising and promotions, sponsorships of events and product placements in movies and television shows in an effort to promote use of their products by women.
Source: In the Public Interest, “Addiction and the Gender Gap”
, Feb 18, 2003
Failed War on Drugs endangers communities
Q. How would a Nader administration address drug trafficking?
A. Our failed war on drugs is endangering our communities, imperiling police, wasting tens of billions of dollars and, because it is
criminalizing what is a health problem instead of rehabilitation for drug addicts, is filling our prisons at $40,000 a prisoner and making the corporate-prison industry even richer. The way to go is to
look at drug addiction as a rehabilitation challenge, focus on youngsters in terms of prevention, have community policing where the police work and live in the community, which is the best way to make a
community safe, and decriminalize marijuana so we can begin to move this into a rehabilitation-health problem.
Source: John Ellis, The Fresno (CA) Bee
, Oct 22, 2000
Legalize marijuana, and treat addiction as a health problem
Nader spoke out for the legalization of marijuana. “Addiction should never be treated as a crime. It has to be treated as a health problem. We do not send alcoholics to jail in this country. Over 500,000 people are in our jails who are nonviolent drug
users.” For other drugs, like heroin, he advocated programs like methadone maintenance and needle exchanges that focus on treatment of addiction and prevention of health problems.
Source: NY Times, on 2000 election
, Sep 9, 2000
Treat hemp like poppy seeds, not like heroin
Nader criticized federal agencies for making it difficult for farmers to grow and market industrial hemp. Nader also spoke out against a recent raid on a South Dakota Indian reservation in which federal agents seized at least 2,000 plants described as
industrial-grade hemp plants by the crop’s owner. Hemp cannot be grown commercially in the US because it belongs to the same family as marijuana, although Nader pointed out that the levels of hallucinogenic THC are far lower in hemp than in
marijuana. “It is analogous to consuming poppy seed bagels or nonalcoholic beer,” he said. Nader said the DEA is proposing new rules that would require a product containing any amount of THC to be classified a “Schedule I” controlled substance, the same
category as heroin and LSD. Exceptions would be made for industrial hemp products not intended for human consumption, such as paper, clothing, or rope. While American farmers are barred from growing hemp, manufacturers can import it.
Source: Boston Globe "Campaign Notebook" on 2000 race
, Sep 6, 2000
Remove industrial hemp from DEA drug list
In Hawaii, we visited one of the only 2 plots in the US legally permitted to grow industrial hemp, that versatile plant with thousands of uses, including textiles, fuel, food & paper. A fraction of an acre was surrounded by barbed wire fence, saturation
night lights inside a larger fenced area. This medieval experience brought home once again that for the sake of farmers, the environment, consumers and energy independence, it is necessary to free industrial hemp from the proscribed list of the DEA.
Source: Nomination Acceptance Speech
, Jun 25, 2000
Replace Drug War with treatment and alternative sentencing
Nader supports the Green Party Platform, which states:
Source: Green Party Platform as ratified at 2000 National Convention
, Jun 25, 2000
- We support decriminalization of “VICTIMLESS” CRIMES, for example, the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
- We call for legalization of industrial hemp and all its many uses.
- We oppose the illicit activities of the international drug trade and the illicit money laundering that often accompanies the drug cartels. We call for a revised view of the “drug problem” and an end to the “war on drugs,” recognizing that after over
a decade of strident law-and-order posturing, the problems with hard drugs have only worsened.
- We call for expanding drug counseling and treatment for those who need it.
- We believe mandatory drug testing violates civil rights; therefore, we
oppose mandatory testing.
- We favor innovative sentencing and punishment options, including community service for first-time offenders and “Drug Court” diversion programs. We support alternative sentencing for non-violent crimes.
Supports legalization of industrial hemp
On marijuana legalization: “If you know anyone who got high on industrial hemp, tell the National Science Foundation and you’ll get a prize for the most unlikely scientific discovery ever.
George Bush’s father was saved by a parachute made of industrial hemp.”
Source: Campaign Speech, Hartford Public Library, Hartford CT
, May 16, 2000
Solution to addiction is information, not prohibition
Q: Do you think that cigarettes should be illegal?
A: No. You never prohibit an addiction because what you do is you drive it underground and a huge black market occurs. What you do with an addiction is expose the addicters to
massive information, protect them from deceptive advertising, protect the young from being sold such [things] as tobacco products. Keep the research up to make whatever tobacco is consumed less lethal in terms of nicotine and other levels
and increasingly make it socially stigmatized so that people often will stop smoking or won’t smoke, not because it’s bad for their health, but because it’s no longer the thing to do. When I was in college, non-smokers were on the
defensive. The smokers would blow smoke derisively in non-smokers’ faces. You’d never see that today.
Source: David Frost interview
, Oct 21, 1994
Rated A+ by VOTE-HEMP, indicating a pro-hemp voting record.
Nader scores A+ by VOTE-HEMP on pro-hemp legalization policies
VOTE HEMP is a non-profit organization dedicated to the acceptance of and free market for Industrial Hemp. Industrial Hemp is non-psychoactive low THC varieties of the cannabis sativa plant. Currently, it is illegal for U.S. farmers to grow Industrial Hemp because it is improperly classified as a "drug" under the Controlled Substances Act. Since changes in law require shifts in thinking and this requires education in the facts, our primary goal is the education of legislators and regulators, farmers and businesses, students and other concerned citizens.
Source: VOTE-HEMP website 02n-HEMP on Dec 31, 2003
Other candidates on Drugs:
Ralph Nader on other issues:
George W. Bush (R,2001-2009)
Bill Clinton (D,1993-2001)
George Bush Sr. (R,1989-1993)
Ronald Reagan (R,1981-1989)
Jimmy Carter (D,1977-1981)
Gerald Ford (R,1974-1977)
Richard Nixon (R,1969-1974)
Lyndon Johnson (D,1963-1969)
John F. Kennedy (D,1961-1963)
Dwight Eisenhower (R,1953-1961)
Harry_S_TrumanHarry S Truman(D,1945-1953)
Page last updated: Oct 28, 2021