Citing Portugal’s drug policy as inspiration, Tulsi Gabbard wants to end the war on drugs by legalizing and regulating all drugs.
Last year, Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard said the United States should move to legalize marijuana and decriminalize illicit drugs like cocaine and heroin. This, she told Reason, was her strategy to end America’s war on drugs. In a campaign stop in Merrimack, New Hampshire, Gabbard expanded on that position; she endorsed legalizing all illegal drugs so that addicts can receive proper treatment instead of entering the criminal justice system.
“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,” Gabbard said, as reported by Forbes.
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The Hawaii congresswoman was responding to a voter’s query about whether or not Gabbard’s position was more focused on harm reduction and treatment, or if it was about removing illicit black-market narcotics from the streets. All the above, said Gabbard, who has previously introduced federal bills to expand marijuana research.
“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,” she said.
Tulsi tonight endorsed a proposal to “legalize and regulate” all drugs (not just marijuana) and rejected that this was an “extreme” solution to end the Drug War, cited the Portugal model where all drugs are decriminalized pic.twitter.com/LUVIw5tjpa
— Michael Tracey (@mtracey) January 18, 2020
Gabbard acknowledged the Portuguese approach to drug policy as an inspiration. In Portugal, all drugs have been decriminalized since 2001. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the United States saw 70,237 drug overdose deaths in 2017 alone, with synthetic opioids credited as the main cause. Portugal, comparatively, had 30 deaths attributed to drug overdoses in 2016, Statistics Portugal reported.
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This new endorsement to legalize all drugs places Gabbard further left than her Democratic presidential competitors when it comes to drug policy. Mayor Pete Buttigieg supports decriminalizing all drugs while tech entrepreneur Andrew Yang has advocated to decriminalize all opioids while tweeting that we should make psilocybin “magic” mushrooms “more freely available.”