Lincoln Chafee, the former Republican senator from Rhode Island (and former independent governor of the state) who is running for the Libertarian Party (L.P.) presidential nomination, is no fan of what he calls "the failed drug war."
When he announced his presidential run earlier this week, he spoke out forcefully against the Iraq War and other military operations, telling Reason's Brian Doherty, "I am enthusiastically absolutely dedicated to not getting us into these quagmires overseas and ending foreign entanglements." In the same interview, he said the Bush administration's contention that Saddam Hussein possessed weapons of mass destruction was "the biggest lie in American history."
Now, he's speaking out against the drug war in similar fashion, tweeting, "The truth is that there is another war that needs to end. The failed war on drugs."
The truth is that there is another war that needs to end. The failed war on drugs. What we need is an active, open minded discussion in this country that results in real criminal justice reform, and that includes decriminalization. #LeadWithTruth. #Libertarian #ProudlyLP
— Lincoln Chafee (@LincolnChafee) January 8, 2020
He also told Marijuana Moment's Kyle Jaeger:
Internationally, our policies of eradication, substitution and interdiction are an abject failure and have caused vastly more harm than good…. At home our prisons are full of non-violent drug offenders. What we need is an active, open-minded discussion in this country that results in real criminal justice reform—and that includes decriminalization…. There are other models around the world, whether it's Portugal or Uruguay or Holland, and we can learn from them.
Jaeger notes that during Chafee's time as Rhode Island's governor, he signed legislation decriminalizing marijuana possession "and urged the Drug Enforcement Administration to reschedule cannabis under federal law." In 2016, during his short and extremely unsuccessful run for the Democratic presidential nomination, Chafee called the legalization of medical and recreational pot at the state level a series of "interesting, positive experiments."
Whether Chafee ends up winning the L.P. nomination, which will be settled in May, is anyone's guess. But his anti-prohibition views, especially coming from a former senator and governor, are a sign of immense progress when it comes to rethinking drug policy.
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