Tulsi Gabbard Endorses Legalizing All Illicit Drugs

At a campaign stop in Merrimack, New Hampshire, on Friday, Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard called for the legalization of all illicit drugs to ensure that addicts receive treatment instead of being thrown into the criminal justice system, Forbes reports.

“If we take that step to legalize and regulate, then we’re no longer treating people who are struggling with substance addiction and abuse as criminals and instead getting them the help that they need,” she said.

Gabbard’s endorsement was in response to a voter’s question on whether her approach to ending the War on Drugs would focus on harm reduction and treatment or the legalization and regulation of narcotics that often make it into the black market. The Hawaii congresswoman voiced support for all of the propositions.

“The costs and the consequence to this failed war on drugs is so vast and far reaching, socially and fiscally, that if we take these necessary steps, we’ll be able to solve a lot of other problems that we’re dealing with in this country.”

Gabbard pointed to the Portuguese system, where all drugs are decriminalized. The approach has led to a decline in drug deaths and an increase in treatment, per The Hill. Conversely, the U.S. War on Drugs has led to over 800,000 deaths in the past 30 years. Notably, 70,000 people died from opioid overdoses last year along, while Portugal lost just 20 people.

Aside from Gabbard, former South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has called for something similar, although he advocates for decriminalization as opposed to legalization. Per Reason, Buttigieg made the comments to the Des Moines Register in a pre-Christmas meeting, where he stressed that drug users should not be imprisoned.

The 38-year-old politician noted that he witnessed teens in South Bend turning to synthetic, black-market marijuana as opposed to the real thing.

“You’re much better off with real marijuana than this stuff,” he said, referring to the synthetic alternative as “rat poison sprayed on grass.”

Businessman and Democratic presidential candidate Andrew Yang supports the decriminalization of opioids, as well as safe injection sites for illicit drugs. He also supports the total legalization of marijuana and cannabis and expressed openness to legalizing magic mushrooms, which have shown some promise for treating depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg are the only Democrats in the 2020 primary that don’t support making marijuana legal, Forbes reported. Both candidates have instead backed modest steps toward curbing the War on Drugs, including removal criminal penalties for possession.

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