Andrew Yang Pushes For Opioid Decriminalization, Says Addicts Should Get ‘Treatment Not A Prison Cell’

Democratic presidential candidate entrepreneur Andrew Yang speaks at the South Carolina Democratic Party State Convention.
Win McNamee / Getty Images

On Sunday, one day before his appearance on The View, Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang took to Twitter to push his belief that opioids should be decriminalized to help people struggling with addiction get the treatment they need to recover.

“When other countries faced an addiction crisis they made rapid progress by decriminalizing opiates for personal use,” he tweeted. “We should do the same. People struggling with addiction should head to treatment not a prison cell.”

Yang’s policy page highlights Portugal’s decriminalization of drugs and the subsequent decrease in drug deaths and increases in treatment, using it as an example for decriminalizing “the possession and use of small amounts of opioids.”

The 44-year-old’s policy page also touches on the severity of the opioid crisis gripping the United States, pointing to the 11 million Americans that misused prescription opioids in 2016 and the 2.1 million that were addicted to heroin, fentanyl, and other kinds of opioids.

“The War on Drugs has not worked,” the page reads. “We need to give more American families and communities a real chance to get well, and we need to evolve from a punitive approach that does not serve the public. If you are caught with a small amount of drugs, we should refer you straight to treatment, not a prison cell.”

Yang then appeared on The View Monday, where he introduced his platform, which includes a universal basic income (UBI) of $1,000 monthly for every American over the age of 18. He explained his plan for funding it ⁠— taxing the Big Tech companies that are reaping the most rewards from the current economy ⁠— and his belief that his platform addresses the problems that got President Donald Trump elected.

The Democratic candidate also explained his belief that immigrants are not causing the problems that elected Trump. Instead, he suggests that Trump was elected due to a changing economy that is taking away jobs from Americans in favor of automation.

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Per ABC News, Yang was one of the earliest candidates in the 2020 presidential race and announced his bid in November 2017. He previously was the CEO of a test-prep company and founded Venture for America, a non-profit organization that trained college graduates and young professional to become entrepreneurs and work for startups in emerging United States cities.

Yang’s campaign has surprised political observers with its success, especially given his lack of political experience. The serial entrepreneur has already passed the 130,000 unique donor threshold to make the third and fourth debates in September and October. However, he has yet to meet the second requirement for the fall debates, which is earning at least 2 percent support in four different polls.