Here’s a blast from a past. One of the very few areas where liberals and libertarians find themselves overlapping is the War on Drugs — that is, how prohibition has been an unmitigated disaster. Rand Paul, as we’ll all recall, is occasionally a pretend libertarian; no further proof of this is needed that contrasting his ambiguous statements of today with his much stronger rhetoric of the War on Drugs from yesteryear.
Reason notes that Paul, since being elected to the senate, hasn’t been the vocal proponent for the legalization of marijuana that most thought him to be. And while Paul has made some statements that the drug policies should be handled by the states, Paul is on record making much stronger statements during a 2000 TV appearance. At the time of the appearance, Paul was the chairman of Kentucky Taxpayers United, and made the remarks as a response to a caller on the public affairs show Kentucky Tonight.
The caller posited the following suggestion:
My plan is to legalize all drugs and take the money that we spend to keep the drugs out of the country, put that into Social Security, and release all nonviolent drug offenders…take the money that we would spend in housing these inmates, put that into Social Security. Now that money is going to end the money problems with Social Security. I would like to hear you guys comment on that.
I approve. I would also like to see that money go into public housing and assistance programs, into major infrastructure projects, investments into clean energy sources, and towards constructing a true universal healthcare system so we can join the rest of the Western World in the future, but at this point, I’m just as connected to reality as most Tea Baggers.
I would agree with him. I think they are sort of separate issues, and obviously you can take the savings from one. But I would agree with him: The war on drugs is an abysmal failure and a waste of money. And we should better spend [the money] dealing with people, with their addiction problems, quit wasting all the money, sending the military to Bolivia to shoot farmers who are growing coca plants. That’s just ridiculous. So I do agree with him there: Just end that war on drugs and make it a much more local situation, more community oriented…There’s probably a lot of savings in that.
There’s a few ways that you can take that statement, “I agree with him.” The most obvious is that Paul agrees with him on legalizing all drugs, if not spending that money on social security. The focus on making it a “much more local situation” notwithstanding (no, states shouldn’t have the rights to set individual prohibitions; otherwise you end up with weird bans, like Texas, which for some god-forsaken reason limits the number of sex toys a person can own, or Georgia, who bans them all together), I agree.
When 58% of Americans support the legalization of Marijuana but only 1% of Senators do — and that 1% doesn’t include Rand Paul — it’s probably safe to say that Paul doesn’t really agree with that statement anymore, either.
You can watch Rand Paul’s remarks below: