Rand Paul Last Week: 'I Want to End the War on Drugs'



On his HBO show last Friday, Bill Maher asked Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) about remarks he made in 2000 concerning the war on drugs: 

Maher: You said in 2000, "The war on drugs is an abysmal failure and a waste of money." Are you still on that page?

Paul: I'm absolutely there, and I'll do everything to end the war on drugs….The war on drugs has become the most racially disparate outcome that you have in the entire country. Our prisons are full of black and brown kids. Three-fourths of the people in prison are black or brown, and white kids are using drugs, Bill, as you know…at the same rate as these other kids. But kids who have less means, less money, kids who are in areas where police are patrolling…Police are given monetary incentives to make arrests, monetary incentives for their own departments. So I want to end the war on drugs because it's wrong for everybody, but particularly because poor people are caught up in this, and their lives are ruined by it. 

It is encouraging to hear Paul reiterate his opposition to the war on drugs in general, as opposed to particular aspects of it (such as overfederalizaton, mandatory minimum sentences, and civil asset forfeiture). Although it is still not entirely clear what he means by ending the war on drugs, the disparities that worry him cannot be fully addressed as long as the government continues to arrest people for supplying arbitrarily proscribed intoxicants.