Newt Gingrich and The War On Drugs

It appears prospective voters need to take former House Speaker Newt Gingrich seriously (for the moment), with his poll numbers on the rise.

I’ll leave it to others to analyze his hypocrisy on family values, his troubling connections with Freddie Mac, his blatant disregard of religious freedom, and his shifting views on health care (although I have touched upon it previously).

As troubling as all of the above are, the political position from Gingrich I find most disturbing is his view regarding the War on Drugs.

Despite all the evidence that the drug war has gotten out of control and fuels violence, both domestically and internationally, Gingrich wants to double down on the war by:

*Imposing mandatory rehabilitation and expanded drug testing. Marijuana is the most popular Schedule I controlled substance. Its usage does not cause violence. So what the hell does Gingrich care if someone is peacefully doing something that harms no innocent bystanders? Do we send cigarette smokers to rehab? Of course not (yet). If innocent bystanders are harmed, then arrest the offenders for THOSE crimes. That, of course, is the key. It’s the prohibition of drugs that triggers the majority of the violence associated with drugs, not usage itself. And what does “expanded testing” amount to? The 4th Amendment has already been shredded. So will this barely-existent safeguard to our liberties be shredded more with Gingrich’s expanded testing? Drug testing without probable cause? A lack of 4th Amendment protections makes it easy for government to cover up its abuse of power. We already see that when it comes to police officers getting caught on camera violating the rights of citizens, and the subsequent warrantless seizure and destruction of these recordings by the offending officers. What will we see with a Drug War free of the burden of due process? A lot more Kathryn Johnstons, unfortunately.

*Impose the death penalty on drug smugglers. All of the problems Mexico is experiencing will get worse, and arguably spill over into the US, with such a policy. Gingrich himself states the price of drugs will go up dramatically when we “execute 27 or 30 or 35 people at one time.” The increase in price will mean a greater financial reward for drug traffickers, resulting in a greater incentive for them to supply their product to the black market, fueling more violence to retain or gain market share.

The Drug Warrior’s answer? Fight fire with fire! More violence, violence that will spill over to parties whose most egregious “crime” is being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Just say no to Newt’s new Contract on America.

UPDATE: I’m obviously not the only one troubled with Gingrich’s new-found popularity. Radley Balko has a great post, covering these same points but with more detail and eloquence than I.

UPDATE 2: I wrote an expanded version of this blog post for

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One Response to “Newt Gingrich and The War On Drugs”

  1. Freedom, by the way Says:

    Another reason to not want Newt! ARGH! Will conservatives wake up?!

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