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Rand Paul Clarifies Position on Drugs

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In what is shaping up to be one of the dirtiest and muddiest campaigns of the season, the latest accusation to fly about Dr. Rand Paul in his run for the Senate in Kentucky is an unusual one. After some pathetically humorous stories about his college shenanigans were dragged out and failed to do any harm, Democrat Jack Conway accused Dr. Paul of not being sufficiently supportive of the War on Drugs.

A report from the Associated Press helped to muddy the waters substantially with a non-quote apparently summarized from an interview which suggested that Paul “said he is opposed to the legalization of marijuana, even for medicinal purposes.”

In a development which was atypical when dealing with a Republican candidate, the reaction among Dr. Paul’s strongest supporters to this revelation was very negative, with accusations of hypocrisy and selling out flying around the blogosphere. Unlike many more traditional Republicans, Paul has a strong following with libertarian-leaning activists in the Tea Party movement and groups like the Republican Liberty Caucus and they were rather shocked to hear that he had turned against their preference for calling off the drug war, marijuana legalization and and end to the incarceration of non-violent drug offenders.

To his credit, after lambasting Paul on the drug issue, blogger Mike Meno had the good sense to contact the campaign and get a clarification on the issue. As it turns out, the AP report, which seems rather slanted towards Paul’s opponent, misrepresented Paul’s position substantially.

While Rand Paul doesn’t necessarily favor legalization of marijuana or other drugs on a personal level, he believes that it is an issue in which the federal government should have no role. He supports letting states decide for themselves how they will deal with drugs and drug users, and ending the federal War on Drugs which has become notorious for its cost, ineffectiveness and civil rights abuses.

While some may see the states rights stance as a way for him to avoid really dealing with the issue, it remains a strong departure from the drug prohibition rhetoric favored by most politicians in both parties. It may give his opponent some ammunition to use against him in a state with more than its share of drug problems, but it’s reassuring for Paul’s civil libertarian supporters who have raised millions of dollars for his campaign form all over the nation.

Conway may have scored a small hit with this issue, cutting Paul’s lead in many polls by a couple of points and pulling even with him in one poll for the first time since the primaries. Paul still leads by at least 5 points on average. The question is whether it was Paul’s real position or the AP misrepresentation which showed in the poll drop and what effect it will have on his major fundraising MoneyBomb which launched today.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • malcolm kyle

    Pragmatic libertarians (minimal-statists) and “true” Conservatives agree that many, if not most, of society’s problems are caused by government usurping choices that could better be made by individuals and that government is just about the worst way of doing almost anything. Where libertarianism normally parts company with “fake” conservatism is over moral issues. But a true conservative would have no problem with agreeing, that what people do with their own bodies, and especially in the privacy of their own home, should be supremely their business, and that anything else would entail ignoring the basic tenet of limited government.

    Fake-Conservatism on the other hand has much in common with socialism; Both Leftists and Fake-Conservatives appear to harbor the belief that nature does not exist and that any human can be anything he wants to be, or can for the “greater good”, be “re-educated” into being. Leftists therefore think little boys can be conditioned into preferring dolls over toy soldiers, and similarly Fake-conservatives believe that adults can be coerced into choosing alcohol over marijuana. A true conservative, just like a pragmatic libertarian, would immediately reject both ideas as nonsense.

    The war on drugs is a tale of a once great and free nation which fell down a rat hole into a fantasy world riddled with peculiar and dystopian logic.

    Because Drug cartels will always have an endless supply of ready cash for wages, bribery and equipment, no amount of tax money, police powers, weaponry, wishful thinking or pseudo-science will make our streets safe again. Only an end to prohibition can do that! How much longer are we willing to foolishly risk our own survival by continuing to ignore the obvious, historically confirmed solution?

    For those of you who are still living in some strange parallel universe, one where prohibition actually works, may I suggest that you return to high school economics class, and learn about supply and DEMAND. Learn that you cannot up DEMAND simply by upping supply. Contrary to popular held superstition, drugs are not PUSHED, the drug dealers are filling a DEMAND not creating one. The DEMAND is here in the US and is impossible to control, but what is possible to control, is the income from that DEMAND. All we have to do is allow legal businesses to meet that DEMAND. Under proper regulation drug use will not rise, as it couldn’t get any worse than it is at present.

    Debating whether a particular drug is harmless or not is missing the whole point. Is marijuana dangerous? I simply don’t care if it is or isn’t. If someone wants to destroy their lives with drugs, thats their business, not anybody else’s. Their lives aren’t ours to direct. We can certainly voice an opposition to drug use… but who are we to imprison people over it? which ultimately we do if we support banning drugs.

    Why on earth does anyone think it’s acceptable to want to control certain behaviors, such as the bedroom habits or choice of poison of fully grown adults? Isn’t it high time we evolved enough to get past this crap? Surely we need to accept, that the only way to truly be free, is that you agree, in return, to allow other people to be free, even if it offends your personal sensibilities. What’s more; if it’s not directly hurting you and you forbid it, then you can be sure that it will create unforeseen circumstances, which WILL have an adverse affect on YOUR wellbeing! — Actually, a large proportion of those arising circumstances may not come as such a surprise to those of us who are capable of paying due attention to historical precedent.

    If you support prohibition then you’ve helped trigger the worst crime wave in history.

    If you support prohibition you’ve a helped create a black market with massive incentives to hook both adults and children alike.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped to make these dangerous substances available in schools and prisons.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped raise gang warfare to a level not seen since the days of alcohol bootlegging.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped create the prison-for-profit synergy with drug lords.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped remove many important civil liberties from those citizens you falsely claim to represent.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped put previously unknown and contaminated drugs on the streets.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped to escalate Theft, Muggings and Burglaries.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped to divert scarce law-enforcement resources away from protecting your fellow citizens from the ever escalating violence against their person or property.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped overcrowd the courts and prisons, thus making it increasingly impossible to curtail the people who are hurting and terrorizing others.

    If you support prohibition you’ve helped evolve local gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, controlling vast swaths of territory with significant social and military resources at their disposal.

  • Dave,

    I like this guy, just not sure if it’s reciprocal
    Talking Points Memo

    : ( I don’t have time to write a comment…see you later.

  • Krissy

    Don’t pay attention to the economy! Look at this shiny object over here! kidnapping! Oh, unemployment? Never mind about that, look over here, donations from *gasp* porn sites!

  • “To his credit, after lambasting Paul on the drug issue, blogger Mike Meno had the good sense to contact the campaign and get a clarification on the issue.”

    I would have given Meno credit if he had had the good sense to get clarification before lambasting Paul.

  • This is Kentucky we’re talking about. [I grew up one state away, in Tennessee.]

    Some of Paul’s libertarian stances will run against the grain of old-fashioned social conservatism that predominates in the electorate of most southern states — or they will sound just plain odd, like his comments on the Civil Rights Act, the Fair Housing Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act.

    Conway is an attractive, moderate candidate and is not playing particularly ‘dirty pool’ by current political standards. The fact that he still trails in many polls shows how Republican most southern states still are.

  • Dave nalle

    good longwinded points Malcolm.

    yes, EB if he had checked first I’d give meno more credit, but he at least deserves partial credit.

  • littlbit

    For those who want the war to continue, you are wanting the drug cartels, to control the quality and distribution of drugs, to anyone of any age, who has the money to obtain tainted and dangerous drugs.

    You are to blame for every death, every person who is imprisoned and who’s life is destroyed by drugs. America should remember alcohol prohibition and what that brought to your country and how unsuccessful the legal system was in controlling the flow of alcohol around the country.

    You allowed the big Mafia groups to form, you allowed people to be killed in that war, why in God’s name are you repeating history, can Americans not learn from their mistakes, do you need to repeat them over and over before the message gets through.

    Time to end this war against the citizens of the world.

    Legalise – Educate – Regulate – Tax

    Remove the power and control of drug cartels.
    Educate the people, especially the children about the true nature of drugs.
    Put drugs into the hands of professionals, and allow person use controlled by doctors and chemists.
    Gain over $2trillion of wasted tax payers dollars spent on a war that could never have been won, regain control over you health systems, your police and free up courts and prisons, by not arresting people who in the privacy of their own homes use cannabis for personal use medical or recreational.

    Remember if there is no victim, there can be no breach of law.

  • Zedd

    One has to wonder what Rousseau would think about Rand Paul’s views.

  • But why, Zedd?

  • It’s shaping up to be a dirty campaign, Dave Nalle. You might not think that the stupid Aqua-God kidnapping story did any damage, but what sticks in the skull of the readership of Gentleman’s Quarterly is not what might stick in yours. There will be attacks geared toward every segment of the voting population.

  • Zedd? Hmmm. She must have gone home for the weekend. Well it’s the end of my vacation. I want to say goodbye to all the folks I’ve talked with in the last few weeks. Til next time. 🙂

  • Irene, you think that GQ readers are an influential demographic in Kentucky? I suspect not.


  • Zedd


    Most of societies problems are caused by individuals making bad choices.

    What individuals do with their own bodies or in their own homes can affect adversly.

    Sounds good though.

    Question? If adults freely poison themselves with impunity, what happens to the children of that society?

  • Zedd

    I believe it was Rousseau who said “Man is born free, yet everywhere he is in chains”

  • LDR

    Don’t put too much faith in the poll that ‘pulled Conway into a tie for the first time in the race’, the pollster had to change methodology from its prior poll showing Paul in the lead by 9.3% in order to achieve that result. Instead of using voter registration rolls to find who is registered and a likely voter, they now just call people randomly and ASK them if they are registered and a likely voter. etc. This methodology is established to overrepresent those not registered to vote at all.

  • I still cherish an article I pulled from the net during the 2008 primaries, which analysed in great detail and with quite spectacular hubris exactly how Rand’s dad was going to easily win the Republican nomination and then the presidency. The guy had the entire electoral vote planned out, state by state and practically district by district.

    I reread it occasionally for a giggle.

  • Cleareye

    The drug war is partially a result of several business groups in this country that do not want competition, i.e. tobacco, liquor. They are in business to make money, not healthy people. They know that if pot and all drugs were legal to use there would be pressure to restrict where and how they are used and they have problems enough.
    Spending billions and billions of dollars and thousands of lives trying to prevent the brain dead from overdosing is pointless. Just order more body bags and scrape up the bodies until people realize it is really stupid to do drugs fro recreation.