Newt Gingrich has several dozen dumpling-shaped skeletons rattling around in his wardrobe, and his fellow GOP contenders have repeatedly chided him for the big ones: lobbying for Freddie Mac, sitting on a bench with Nancy Pelosi, endorsing an individual mandate. What you won't hear Mitt Romney or Rick Santorum ding him for, however, is Gingrich's atrocious record on drug policy. For that, we have Gary Johnson.
“Ideas are important, especially in a presidential campaign," Johnson said in a statement released yesterday. "But some of Speaker Gingrich’s ideas over the years are nothing short of scary."
Johnson goes on:
Under his legislation, anyone coming home to the U.S. and caught carrying enough marijuana (2 oz.) to distribute would be sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole – or if caught twice, would be sentenced to death.
This from someone who has admitted his own past marijuana use, saying ‘it was a sign we were alive and in graduate school’. And in 1981, Mr. Gingrich actually introduced legislation providing for the ‘therapeutic use of marijuana. (HR 4498, 97th Congress)
On drug policy alone, I am beginning to see what Rick Santorum means when he talks about the former Speaker having an idea a minute. We are talking about millions of Americans’ lives here, and having positions ranging from embracing medical marijuana to the death penalty for possessing a small amount of that same substance is astounding both in its hypocrisy and its inconsistency.
The War on Drugs is a failure, and bold steps are in order to align drug policy with reality and humanity. But Newt Gingrich’s notion of bold is not what we need.