Candidates' positions are categorized as Pro (Yes), Con (No), Not Clearly Pro or Con, or None Found. Candidates who have changed their positions are listed as Now their most recent position. Candidates are listed by party and in alphabetical order by last name. Black & white photos indicate candidates who have withdrawn or who no longer meet our criteria for inclusion.
Gary Johnson, former Governor of New Mexico, stated the following in his article "Drug Policy Reform," available at www.garyjohnson2012.com (accessed Oct. 13, 2011):
"Abuse of hard drugs is a health problem that should be dealt with by health experts, not a problem that should be clogging up our courts, jails, and prisons with addicts. Instead of continuing to arrest and incarcerate drug users, we should seriously consider the examples of countries such as Portugal and the Netherlands, and we should ultimately choose to adopt policies which aim to reduce death, disease, violence, and crime associated with dangerous drugs… We can never totally eliminate drug addiction and drug abuse. We can, however, minimize these harms and reduce the negative effects they have on society by making sure drug abusers are able to access effective treatment options (jail is not an effective treatment option)." Oct. 13, 2011 Gary Johnson
Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States, stated the following in the Jan. 27, 2011 video "Your Interview with the President: State of the Union 2011," posted on youtube.com:
"I am a strong believer that we have to think more about drugs as a public health problem. When you think about other damaging activities in our society: smoking, drunk driving... typically we've made huge strides over the last 20 or 30 years by changing people's attitudes. On drugs I think a lot of times we have been so focused on arrest, incarceration, interdiction, that we don't spend as much time thinking about how do we shrink demand...
[W]hen we have nonviolent, first-time drug offenders, are there ways that we can make sure that we're steering them into the straight and narrow without automatically resorting to incareration, drug courts, mechanisms like that. These are all issues that are worth exploring, and worth a serious debate." Jan. 27, 2011 Barack Obama
ProCon.org emailed the Romney campaign for his position to this question on Oct. 26, 2011, Nov. 11, 2011, and on Jan. 30, 2012. We also left a follow up telephone message on Feb. 8, 2012. We have not yet received a reply with Romney's position as of Feb. 13, 2012.
Jill Stein, MD, former Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School, provides the following statement on her campaign website page "Where We Stand on the Issues," available at www.jillstein.org (accessed Sep. 13, 2012):
"End the ineffective and costly War on Drugs and begin to treat drug use as a public health problem, not a criminal problem." Sep. 13, 2012 Jill Stein
Herman Cain, former Chairman of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City and Chairman of Godfather's Pizza, stated the following during a May 25, 2011 interview with Conor Friedersdorf of The Atlantic, "Herman Cain: Spying on Americans Is Okay, But Not Assassinating Them," available at www.theatlantic.com:
"America's drug policy has to start before it can get across our border. We've got to deal differently with drugs coming in from other countries. We've got to deal differently with those elements in this country that facilitate the movement of illegal drugs into this country. I'm not gonna tell you what the answer is. I just know that the decision has to be made as to how do we deal with this problem. If we do not the US is going to become just as lawless as some of these other nations. I believe we can avoid this, but there's a lot of things we need to do...
If the root cause is demand in the United States, crack down on the laws against illegal drug use. That's what you do..." May 25, 2011 Herman Cain
Newt Gingrich, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives (R-GA), made the following statements in his Nov. 28, 2011 interview with Chris Moody, “Newt Gingrich on Drug Laws, Entitlements, and Campaigning: The Yahoo News Interview,” available at www.yahoo.com:
“It has always struck me that if you're serious about trying to stop drug use, then you need to find a way to have a fairly easy approach to it and you need to find a way to be pretty aggressive about insisting--I don't think actually locking up users is a very good thing. I think finding ways to sanction them and to give them medical help and to get them to detox is a more logical long-term policy.” Nov. 28, 2011 Newt Gingrich
[Editor's Note: While serving as governor of Utah, Huntsman signed the Drug Offender Reform Act - Pilot Program, SB 1004(65 KB), on May 3, 2005. The bill instituted a pilot program that diverted first-time drug offenders into treatment programs instead of jail.] May 3, 2005 Jon Huntsman
Ron Paul, US Representative (R-TX), stated the following during a July 28, 2010 speech on the floor of the US House of Representatives, "Statement on the Fair Sentencing Act," available at paul.house.gov:
"Congress should be looking critically at how we can extricate America from the four decades of destruction that has ensued since President Richard Nixon announced the federal war on drugs in 1972. As a medical doctor with over 30 years' experience, I certainly recognize the dangers that can arise from drug abuse. However, experience shows that the federal drug war creates many additional dangers, while failing to reduce the problems associated with drug abuse. Like 14 years of federal alcohol prohibition in the 1920s and '30s, America's federal drug war has failed to ameliorate the problems associate with drug use, while fostering violence and disrespect for individual rights...
Each successive ramping up of the federal war on drugs has made it more evident that this war is incompatible with constitutional government, individual liberty, and prosperity. It is time for Congress to reverse course... It is imperative that the House of Representatives pursue a dialogue on how we can end the federal war on drugs—a war that has increasingly become a war on the American people and our Constitution." July 28, 2010 Ron Paul
Rick Perry, Governor of Texas, stated the following in his Oct. 15, 2005 press release, "Gov. Perry Announces $1.3 Million in Grants to Support Drug Treatment and Accountability," available at governor.state.tx.us:
"We want to help all Texans be productive citizens that positively contribute to society. These drug courts [overseeing court-supervised treatment for non-violent drug offenders] hold offenders accountable and help break the cycle of crime and addiction. Through intensive treatment, it is our hope that these offenders will once again be productive members of society." Oct. 15, 2005 Rick Perry
ProCon.org emailed the Roemer campaign for his position to this question on Oct. 26, 2011. We made a follow up call on Jan. 31, 2012, and we sent a follow up email on Feb. 8, 2012. Although Roemer's campaign manager and policy advisor did reply to our emails, we have not yet received Roemer's position on this issue as of Feb. 14, 2012.
Rick Santorum, former US Senator (R-PA), stated the following in the Jan. 5, 2012 video interview "Student Asks Rick Santorum about Sending Non-violent Drug Offenders to Prison," available at www.ssdp.org:
Student: "As a champion of family values and keeping America strong, would you continue to destroy families by sending non-violent drug offenders to prison?"
Santorum: "The federal government doesn’t do that." Jan. 5, 2012 Rick Santorum