Democratic Convention 2008

Dem Delegates on the Drug War


Denver is slowly, slowly emptying out as 70,000 pilgrims head to Barack Obama's Address to Occupants of Interplanetary Craft. As they go I've been asking them about stuff that no speakers or panels have really addressed. For example, the drug war,

Domingo Lopes, a black Obama delegate from Florida, wants the Democrats to "fight it the right way" by funding prevention and education instead of enforcing unfair drug laws. He hopes Obama and the Democrats will end sentencing disparities. "We always get the shit end of the stick. My people, I mean."

Sara Burlingame, an Obama Montana delegate and athiest pushing a stroller carrying her mohawked son, says the drug war "isn't in my top 5 issues," but basically agreed with Lopes. "I think we can decriminalize marijuana, certainly, and use some of those funds we save on treatment.

Madeleine Kunin, a former Vermont governor and Hillary delegate-for-Obama, backs decriminalization while worrying about the political risks. "I once voted for it in the legislature and took a little flack for it. Not then! But later, when the Republicans needed something to attack me with."


NEXT: Now Playing at Starbucks vs. the Little Guy—Is the corporate coffee behemoth really unstoppable?

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  1. zzzzzzz:

    Zzzz zzzzzzzzzzzzzz zzzzzzzzz zzz zz zzzzz zzzzzz zzz. Zz zzzzz zzzzzzzz… zzzzzzzzzzz! Zzzzzzz zzz zzzz? ZZZZZ!

  2. The Dems will wuss out on the drug war. The largest single reason used to violate people’s liberties and the Dems, the party of the little guy, won’t step up. How many young, disproportionately minority, males are in prison, on parole or currently face diminished job prospects over this shit?

    15 million or so.

    Fuck the War on Drugs Sanity.

  3. I assume Reason readers know that Bill Clinton put more pot smokers in jail than any prez before or since. And in California, Democratic Atty General Jerry Brown just declared war on pot clubs that make a profit. The Dems are big drug warriors and that’s a fact.

  4. The War on Drugs seems like it should be a sideline issue compared to foreign policy, the economy, etc etc. In reality, the implications of the War on Drugs on what we can and cannot legislate, especially via the Commerce Clause, could erode our system of government from the inside out. Plus, on top of that, all the violations of liberty that come along with it. Saying one of your #1 issues is the drug war seems a bit silly at first, until you really think about it and realize its importance.

  5. The War on a Common Sense.

  6. “The Dems are big drug warriors and that’s a fact.”
    Except when it’s not. The last two presidents to make any serious noises about shifting the whole thing from a criminal issue to a public health issue were Carter and Clinton. Carter took a beating when his drug czar was caught snorting coke (covered ad nauseum on H&R) and Clinton got hammered for first choosing a drug czar who suggested that it wasn’t a good idea to declare war on one’s own citizens.

    Try not to be so sloppy when you decide to play the equivalency game. Both parties are not cut from the same cloth on this issue.

  7. The War on Drugs ________________.

    A) Sanity
    B) Youth
    C) Liberty
    D) Minorities
    E) The Constitution
    F) All of the above

    OK, maybe it’s no the #1 issue. Maybe it’s some way down the list. Like #2 or #3.

    Cory Maye
    Kathryn Johmston
    Ryan Frederick
    Cheye Calvo
    Chad MacDonald
    Rachel Hoffman
    Tarika Wilson
    and on and on and on…

  8. “We always get the shit end of the stick. My people, I mean.”

    Drug users?

  9. Republicans: keep drugs illegal and imprison users

    Democrats: keep drugs illegal and lock users away in “treatment” centers to deprogram them

  10. pinko,

    Clinton disowned his own Surgeon General when she dared suggest the possibility of studying legalization. I’m not seeing much flexibility on the issue from the Dem side of aisle.

  11. Sara Burlingame, an Obama Montana delegate and athiest pushing a stroller

    I may be athy, but she is the athiest!

  12. You know, if Barack Obama were to break ranks on the drug war and say he would push to have pot legalized on the same basis as alcohol, and focus all enforcement efforts on “white powder” drugs, he would probably win going away. Hell, I’d probably vote for him, and he would finally win the Dem dream of turning out millions of young new voters.

    But, for all his garble about change and hope, he lacks the stones to make a real change.

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