It is because you have made the personal decision that you are prepared to get rich by destroying our children. I have made the decision that I love our children enough that we will kill you if you do this.
"This" was defined as carrying 100 or more "usual dosage amounts" of an illegal drug across the border, which could be a couple ounces of marijuana or a tiny quantity of LSD. Gingrich's bill would have required "imprisonment for life without possibility of release" for a first-time offender and death for anyone with a similar crime on his record. For Gingrich, the key was deterrence:
The first time we execute 27 or 30 or 35 people at one time, and they go around Colombia and France and Thailand and Mexico, and they say, "Hi, would you like to carry some drugs into the U.S.?" the price of carrying drugs will have gone up dramatically.
Krutsinger contrasts Gingrich's harsh attitude toward drug mules with his lenient view of his own youthful pot smoking, which Gingrich famously dismissed as "a sign that we were alive and in graduate school in that era." Unfortunately, Krutsinger also cites another self-excusing statement by Gingrich, reported in Martin Booth's book on cannabis, that appears to be apocryphal.
Krutsinger adds that Gingrich, who supported medical marijuana as a congressman in the early 1980s, more recently had this to say on the subject:
There is no medical marijuana. Marijuana is a drug. There is nothing in the Food and Drug Administration that supports the idea that it's medical. There's nothing in the Institute of Medicine that supports the idea it's medical. The American Medical Association has not said it's medical.
Let's skip over Gingrich's dubious premise that drugs can't be medical. In 1985 the FDA approved Marinol, a synthetic version of THC, marijuana's main active ingredient, as a medicine; it is currently weighing approval of Sativex, a cannabis extract. In 1999 the Institute of Medicine issued a report that described the plant's therapeutic potential. In 2009 the American Medical Association recommended that the federal government consider reclassifying marijuana so it can be used as a medicine. Tell me again how smart and well-informed this guy is.