American Morning

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April 15th, 2009
01:07 PM ET

War on drugs a total failure, says Rep. Ron Paul

Rep. Ron Paul says legalizing marijuana could reduce crime.
Rep. Ron Paul says legalizing marijuana could reduce crime.

The always outspoken congressman joined us in the 7am ET hour of American Morning today as we continue our week-long special report "Drug Nation."

He says we have it all wrong and that making drugs a crime especially marijuana is a waste of time, money and resources, plus it is a slap to the constitution and personal liberties. But is he trying to get a bill through Congress to actually legalize drugs? Watch the interview

While most of our callers to the amFIX hotline agree with legalizing marijuana, opinions on our blog and Twitterboard were mixed.

We also have interviewed experts who strongly believe that while legalizing all drugs may seem like it would work in theory, the end result would add to the number of people addicted, injured, and killed not to mention the cost of treatment.

There are clearly no easy answers. This will no doubt be on President Obama's agenda as he heads to Mexico Thursday to talk about the drug problems at the border, as well as all the other issues involving countries south of the border.

As always, we want to hear your thoughts on the issue. Follow us on Twitter @amFIX and @kiranchetrycnn.

See you in the morning!


Filed under: Controversy • Drugs
soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. andreas maier

    best wishes from germany ,excuse me ,my english is not so good!my question is: why CNN not speaks over bill ayers and the bombing of the policestation 1970? are cnn so liberality?

    please writing me back .
    p.s larry grathwohl and cliff kincaid have evidence on the 23.04.2009
    in a pressconference.

    best wishes andy maier.

    April 17, 2009 at 6:12 am |
  2. bengillis

    > Bottom line we spend more money prohibiting marijuana then we would legalizing

    The money spent on enforcement is nothing close to what it would cost society, and plenty of hidden costs at that.

    Drugs are in demand for a reason that already is not productive for society as it is. Legalizing it opens the flood gate to act on those reasons w/o legal consequences, but w/ dire consequences elsewhere.

    April 17, 2009 at 5:22 am |
  3. DJ


    "There clearly no answers." Yes, there are answers. Lots of them. All evidence based, logical, common sense answers. Trying to walk an imaginary middle road or denying the increasing volume of facts is not what a reporter is supposed to do. You are supposed to research the facts and tell the story, letting the facts lead you to the conclusion. If someone you interview states something, you are supposed to research the evidence, state the sources of that evidence, and hopefully confront that person with the evidence that contradicts their statement to get their response. This is the job of journalists, doing a thorough job of getting to the truth. Trying to show both or all sides as equal isn't valid and has been a plague on modern journalism. Giving time to woo positions gives them legitimacy they don't deserve and unnecessarily confuses people.

    April 16, 2009 at 2:31 pm |
  4. Mary

    It is about time that we listen to the advise handed down to us by our forefathers!

    It would be an unjust and unwise jealousy to deprive a man of his natural liberty upon the supposition that he may abuse it!
    George Washington

    We are a country based on FREEDOM! Is that just a piece of paper? We wave our flags on the 4th of July for the freedom that we have, but the freedoms are being stripped from the American people as each day passes! Anyone who disagrees with this, live in Russia for a spell! Blood was shed for our freedom! It should NEVER have been illegalized to begin with.

    and, no. I am not a user! People were just taught lies about the plant to begin with and maybe they should become a little educated on the subject before they comment. Our government did not tell the truth to its people! You have to research the subject all by yourself! I am sure that all of us are educated enough to do so. At least I would HOPE SO!

    Listen to our founders! They were right.

    April 16, 2009 at 9:18 am |
  5. tammy

    I don't see much mixed reaction at all in these blogs. Most of the blogs pertaining to Marijuana legalization are always full with lots of positive comments. I see all the rest of the stories on the CNN blog don't even receive half the attention or comments as those blogs about the drug war and legalizing weed do.

    April 16, 2009 at 8:36 am |
  6. tammy

    I don't see that much support for NOT legalizing marijuana. Most of those opposed are either cops or in Congress. It is SUCH an easy fix and once again we are complicating the issue. Kids ANYWHERE can get pot anytime they want already. There will be little negative impact if Marijuana were Legalized due to the prevalence and abundance of it already All the other drugs ARE very harmful and not so easy to get. We should think twice about those hard drugs. But pot, it should have been Legalized a long time ago.

    April 16, 2009 at 8:31 am |
  7. Steve

    You do your usual reporting with Hutchinson and Stutzman doing their usual government rant. Where is John Stossel to report on the story of Peter McWilliams? An innocent American who had health issues, he was denied his life by the refusal of the government to admit they are wrong on medical marijuana. Where is Jack Herer to tell the REAL truth about the U.S keeping the public in the dark about the benefits of marijuana? A few years ago we had Stutzman and Steven Hager of High Times to speak at the local university. Stutzman had no real answers to some of the questions that were asked. Where are any of the people that receive medical marijuana from the government every month? Did you know that the government recently lost in court over the use of marijuana in scientific studies? They wanted to supply the marijuana used in the studies and no other kind. The court ruled against them. I still think that the major media, you included, want to keep the American people in the dark through disinformation and limited information. You are proving it with every report.

    April 16, 2009 at 8:02 am |
  8. Jug

    The DEA in the video is a moron.
    If its legalized and taxed then it will also be regulated. Which means to purchase it you will need to be 18 or 21, whatever lawmakers decide. Therefore it will be harder for the youth to obtain these drugs than it is today. If you ask kids it is easier for them to get drugs in school than alcohol.

    Do these people actually think that by legalization it will be found on every street corner and children will have easy access? DEA people are funny, why would they stop the war on drugs when its that war that keeps them employed and puts food on their table. Their opinion should not even be considered, they have too much at stake.

    April 16, 2009 at 7:51 am |
  9. emma gremmo

    Well I just had to tell you that I was slowly moving back to watching CNN as I thought you might be moving away from biased reporting. Knowing that you supported Obama during the election and that is your right. But you also must report fairly and I thought you were moving in that direction. However, after the report on the Tax Tea Party by a women reporter who was rude and insulting to a man attending and after your response to this was to support her I feel I will now skip over CNN once again. I will also send the clip and my feelings to at least 10 of my friends. I do watch who your sponsors are and I plan to let them know of my disenchantment with you.
    Just a final word here. Most TeaParty goers were not protesting Obama their gripe was with Congress and their approval of a 10 Trillion dollar debt.

    April 16, 2009 at 7:46 am |
  10. Gail McLean

    We can't hope to change folks like jcw3 because people also have a right to be narrow minded and ignorant in this country. Fortunately they are the minority at this point and as more media attention is paid to the issue of legalizing cannabis the arguments they present will be revealed for what they are: lies and misrepresentations.
    The fact of the matter is cannabis is the most versatile plant on earth and if some people don't want to utilize it fine. We must continue to demand the end to the prohibition of this plant of 10,000 uses, because their are literally millions of us that DO want to use all aspects of this plant.

    April 16, 2009 at 7:21 am |
  11. Brian Fort

    I don't smoke marijuana, or do any other drugs. I'm personally more afraid of the dealers than I am the users of drugs. I've read that violent drug gangs like M13 are currently in 280 cities around the country. So our drug war is back firing.

    I'm also tired of spending money on jailing people for a private problem that doesn't harm anyone but themselves. When drug abusers come to there senses and realize that drugs aren't the answer to there problems, then we'll have a chance to help them. But throwing them in jail won't do anything but make things worse. For one they'll hold it against the public for forcing them to quit, and we'll become a target for there anger, and they'll blame us for there problems, then we'll never have a chance to help them. The current government drug war is evil in that way, and in many more.

    April 16, 2009 at 3:29 am |
  12. Paul B.


    I did read the article you linked to; the thing is, no one says that burning something and inhaling the smoke is harmless. That does have health consequences. Technology has provided a solution, it's called vaporization, where you heat the cannabis to the point that it releases the THC (190 degrees C. or so), but not hot enough to cause combustion (burning). No smoking, no respiratory danger. Another alternative is an oven and a box of Duncan Hines Brownie Mix. Problem solved. Next!

    April 16, 2009 at 1:42 am |
  13. Paul B.

    There is a misconception going on here...people hear "legalization", and prohibitionists try to make you think that marijuana would end up on the store shelves next to the candy bars...that's WRONG! A more accurate term here for changing the laws would be "regulation and control". Right now, there is no control over the marijuana industry, your neighborhood pot dealer doesn't check IDs, doesn't check for quality or contaminants, there are no rules. "Legalization" would involve rules and regulations, import tariffs and taxes collected, and age restrictions for the legal purchase of cannabis: "No one under 21, We Card!" The smuggling of cannabis (it's real name) would still be unlawful, since the regulations and tax laws were violated. Border controls would still be in place. Drug dogs would still have a job. What you would find is that growers (in the U.S. or abroad) who truly wanted to make it a legitimate business would stop smuggling, sign commercial contracts and start following the rules so they could run their business without fear of arrest or violence. Americans would start buying the cannabis legally in smoke shops, package (liquor) stores, or wherever the new laws provided, drying up the market for the smuggled or "moonshine" marijuana, and thus the cartels would suffer from a lack of demand. Most cannabis consuming Americans believe in the rule of law, but recognize that marijuana prohibition was brought about by misconceptions, deceit, and even perjury by the government in the 1930s. Then, we had a "war on drugs" started by a president who was trying to distract people from the fact that he was overseeing a criminal conspiracy from inside the White House. Is that the banner we want to follow down the street? Not me...

    April 16, 2009 at 1:31 am |
  14. Brent

    I do not use drugs, however I strongly believe we should not make laws that restrict a person's liberty. People should be able to choose how to treat their own bodies. If we let the government have more rights to our own bodies than we do then we have just become slaves.

    Lets put the drug dealers and cartels out of business just like we did Al Capone and his Alcohol bootleggin buddies.

    Legalize all drugs

    If you want to drink Drano, I would disagree with your choice but would not put you in prison for it.

    April 16, 2009 at 12:18 am |
  15. Serenden J Whitaker

    in response to William Mary... what are you implying? that marijuana stops productivity? well if you are then your wrong, i am a perfect example and im sure there are millions of other smokers that would agree. Marijuana does not slow nor stop a person's productivity in anyway, i am maintaining a 3.9gpa in college right now, i play sports in my spare time and i do smoke marijuana recreationally. Millions of "pot smokers" are just as productive as a non smoker, and probably more so because smokers are happier and have a better outlook on life.

    April 15, 2009 at 10:47 pm |
  16. Norma Tumberg

    The only reason they want to keep marijuana illegal is because its a money maker.

    April 15, 2009 at 10:11 pm |
  17. Mr.Robbie

    jcw3 Your argument is weak why cant you wake up from the 1950's attitude where marijuana was portrayed as a murderous crazed drug in movies like reefer madness ?Do you actually believe that b.s. the government tells you to believe about the effects of marijuana on the body and mind? I think your the funny one. You need to just grow up and face the facts that marijuana is not deadly it kills about an average of 0 people a year at this rate the average could get as high as one but who knows right? The average could go up cause stoners are always getting high right?

    April 15, 2009 at 8:36 pm |
  18. Adam Z.


    first off let me just say that i am a 17 year old high school student who has done my fair share of research on marijuana and at this point its ridiculous to think that just because something is legal more kids will do it. i mean do people think that just cause were kids were ignorant or don't have morals. I smoke weed on weekends and stuff like that but guess what i don't do?.....I don't smoke cigarettes or drink alcohol and do you know why?.... cause those things KILL people. To even think that the government could keep me from doing what i want to do is stupid... if i want to smoke a little weed then that's what I'm gonna do. And another thing just cause a kid is around drugs does not mean that there gonna do them. its up to the kid not there parents or the government. some people forget that teenagers have a CHOICE. And if you really want to keep drugs out of kids hands then LEGALIZE IT!!!! why??? because if you have to be a certain age to get something its harder to get but easier on the street cause drug dealers don't care about age at all. Its actually harder for my friends to get cigarettes than weed and really hard to get Alcohol. the reason its hard to get that stuff is because its legal cause you never see a cigarette and alcohol drug dealer cause the stuff is legal and cheaper than what a dealer would charge.


    April 15, 2009 at 8:12 pm |
  19. william mary

    what happens when 50 million people stop what thay are doing and dont work dont pay ther bills .and or not pay taxes what would they do

    April 15, 2009 at 5:29 pm |
  20. Serenden J Whitaker

    even gorge washington our nations first president said in his own words that hemp(cannabis) should be grown all across this country and it should be used to its highest potential.

    “Make the most you can of the Indian Hemp seed and sow it everywhere.” -President George Washington, 1794

    Benjamin Franklin owned a cannabis growing farm

    our own govt. as soon as 1937 taxed hemp and even encouraged farmers to grow it with a movie called "hemp for victory".

    April 15, 2009 at 5:27 pm |
  21. Serenden J Whitaker

    and free sex free drugs... i am in no way a liberal i am neither a right wing nor left wing i am a person who acts on his morals and ideals some may be conservative some may be liberal but i am not either or.
    sex for me is free anyways, and if u pay for it i believe its call prostitution which is illegal, so i don't know why you would bring that up. I am not for free drugs at all, i am for the regulation taxation and distribution of marijuana by the govt. so your tax paying dollars wont go to trying non-violent offenders, and housing them in prison. This in effect would create jobs generate new revenue and reduce crime rates... whats so bad about that. now im not for the legalization of all drugs by no means, but marijuana is by far the safest substance that is available today and in vast quantities if necessary. even trees would be saved because hemp paper would be made.

    but let me ask you this. all you have done is say that we are hypocrates, stupid and funny.. yet you haven't really said why your against and you haven't stated a good argument of why it should stay illegal. if you can really make a sound and concrete argument with facts, backed by scientists and statistics, then i will drop my argument. but if your going to talk about something that is not proven to be true then you have no argument, and that "if marijuana were legalized more people would smoke" wont cut it because that isn't true.

    April 15, 2009 at 5:15 pm |
  22. Serenden J Whitaker

    every single one of these facts are supported by scientists around the world because of their study and experimentation. but let me just say this.....

    Nothing in this world is perfect, perfect depends on a person's perception of it. In no way is marijuana perfect, but it for damn sure is much safer than cigarettes. people have smoked since around in India 1000B.C., yet there has been no death due to the ingestion/inhalation of cannabis. all these recent studies by that foundation in the UK aren't backed by scientists (hence the reason why there are no references on this article JCW3 posted) because their tests, experiments, and studies show that a person smoking marijuana has healthier lungs then those who smoke cigarettes by far and IF ANY abnormalities or deterioration occurs it is minor.

    smoking marijuana doesn't alter mine, or any of the people i know, ability to learn, exercise or do anything else for that matter. yes it does alter your mind but so does alcohol and that is even more severe because most people when drunk don't know what they are doing and wake up the next morning not remembering the previous night. while on marijuana although you are in an altered state of mind, euphoria, you are fully aware of your surroundings and what you are doing, in fact it actually heightens your awareness and clears your mind to better focus on the task that you are trying to complete, at least that what it did for me.

    April 15, 2009 at 5:00 pm |
  23. Jackie in Dallas

    In addition, although I usually disagree with Ron Paul on a lot of subjects (and darn it, he's from TEXAS!), I believe he is correct in stating that our our war on drugs has only fueled the drug cartels in Mexico, and Central and South America, and done little to stem the distribution and use of drugs in this country. Prohibiting something does not work - controlling it's production, distribution, and even taxing it does. We found this out in the 20's with alcohol.

    April 15, 2009 at 4:50 pm |
  24. Jackie in Dallas

    No, actually it is your argument that is bogus. There has been contradictory medical evidence, yes, but marijuana has been proved to be non-addictive. Whether it is as safe as others are saying remains to be seen. But until it is de-criminalized, at least, that research will not be undertaken at a level where those questions can be resolved.

    Before you jump on my case as a neo-hippie stoner, well, I am the right age to be an original hippie, but am not now, nor have I ever been a user of illegal drugs, including marijuna. However, I'm intelligent, I read and research, and I worked on sociological studies for the US Air Force on the use of illegal drugs during the 70s. I can tell you that the average intelligence of the "typical" marijuana user is higher than average, their education level is higher than average, and their problem solving abilities are higher than average.

    Not only that, but hemp - which is the common name for the plant - is an excellent source of fibers used for a multitude of uses including paper, rope, and fabric. It is one of the fastest growing plants, and is extremelly effective for "green" purposes. It was actually a plant grown commercially in this country until the 1920's I believe. We also import more hemp products than any other country in the world, so it could be an economic boom to actually grow it here. However, since the hemp species are grouped together whether they produce psychotropic elements are not, they are proscribed.

    April 15, 2009 at 4:44 pm |
  25. jcw3

    Your argument is bogus, by the way.

    You neo-hippies need to stop the rationalizations and grow up.

    April 15, 2009 at 3:44 pm |
  26. Ronin Kannushi

    Ms. Chetry,
    Subject: YouTube clip, dated: April 14,2009. Mr. Bob Strang and Mr. Juan Hernandez made off-the-shelf comments. There will always be drug use. Why hasn't the law enforcement community raided Hollywood?

    If America legalized, regulated and taxed marijuana, it will be a matter of months before the individual states and the U.S. government would reap a windfall from taxation. Within two (2) years, the hundreds of products that can be produced from the plant,(a naturally occurring bio-organism), will create millions of jobs. Paper, from the trunk of the plant, has been proven to be a very durable commodity. Ancient parchment has survived thousands of years; imagine how many trees could be saved to produce oxygen. Paper bags will replace plastic bags, proven by many littering our streets. Floor mats use rubber,(a tree product), and plastic, which are man made. The plants refuse, at the dump, will break down naturally. Articles of clothing, shoes, rope, and the clincher-medicine.
    Hundreds of medicinal compounds have been synthesized from the root of the plant. Currently, cancer patients smoke to counteract the nausea of chemotherapy treatments.

    No one has ever killed anyone while driving high. Alcohol has killed
    hundreds of thousands, or millions. Tobacco can not provide beneficial uses. Both are man-made products and the good-ole-boys made sure by lining the pockets of elected officials, in the early 1900's.
    Hard drugs: cocaine, methamphetamine, prescription medication, spray paint etc., are also man-made.

    The recreational use will not be forced on all. Tobacco advertizing is limited, why not marijauna? Reality: not everyone enjoys the feeling, and that is fair. Alcohol ads are everywhere and sponsor just about every sporting event. Who complains about that? The alcohol lobby makes sure no one does. Guess who's pocket they are lining. Are you and others who like a band or musician going to throw away recordings because they use drugs. Alcohol and nicotine are drugs, albeit legal. We know why!

    Thank you,
    Ronin Kannushi

    April 15, 2009 at 3:39 pm |
  27. jcw3

    Typical liberal, free sex and free drugs, regulate everything else. Stoners are funny !

    April 15, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  28. Serenden J Whitaker

    excuse me JCW3, but 4.9 million people per year due to tobacco from both the smoker and second hand smoke, yet deaths due to marijuana per year are 0. tobacco actually kills people even those who don't smoke. but marijuana hasn't killed anyone, there have been related deaths and im not going to dispute that fact, but the only thing about those related deaths is that they are because the dealer laced the marijuana, or people died in gun fights over territory in selling drugs or the cartels killings. legalization would almost stop the killings by DEALERS selling, and lacing would end because the cannabis would be govt. issued as pure, not tampered with, and safe, also safer environment to purchase cannabis in a medical shop.

    now hypocrisy is not limited to a party it is dependent on a person, and im not a hypocrate, i simply feel that cannabis is one of the safest substances available and should be legalized, im not attacking tobacco because its uslless people will do what they want and if dying is what they want then by all means smoke a cigarette. If u really wanna talk about hypocrisy, what about the fact that we can smoke a cigarette and right wing, (well excuse me its not only right wing but its a majority), conservatives want to keep something safer then their golden product illegal simply because its not as easily controlled and it doesn't make as much money..

    Let me get this straight you would rather kill people with tobacco, alcohol, and over the counter drugs, than legalize something that has no where near as many deaths as any of them (and that includes marijuana "related", not only ingestion) if any at all.

    If i offend you i apologize; but i feel if you want to give your own people, in this case Americans, substances that kill, while you keep substances that are much safer and proven medically and scientifically to be beneficial to a human with an illness.... i feel your unpatriotic because in a sense your killing your own people and imprisoning them for trying to use something better and safer then the things man can create. Maybe that is a strong statement, but if you take a second thought about it, just look at how many deaths occur a year with in the U.S.( )
    and you will see what i mean.

    peace and love to all

    April 15, 2009 at 3:20 pm |
  29. Kathy

    Not legalizing marijuana is absolutely ridiculous!
    Make room in jail for real criminals and tax it like cigarettes!

    April 15, 2009 at 3:01 pm |
  30. Sean K.

    Legitimate*, please excuse the typo.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:30 pm |
  31. Sean K.

    The only consistent thing about people who are for prohibiting marijuana is they have no LEGITITMATE(keyword) evidence that justifies keeping marijuana illegal. The fact of the matter is that this is just a repeat of alcohol prohibition except this time the masses have been fed propaganda and they ate it all up.

    April 15, 2009 at 2:28 pm |
  32. jcw3

    These are the same lefties who have attacked "Big Tobacco" for decades now. The only thing consistent about liberals is their hypocrisy.

    Stoners are so pathetic........

    April 15, 2009 at 1:53 pm |
  33. Serenden J Whitaker

    Bottom line we spend more money prohibiting marijuana then we would legalizing, growing, producing its many uses along with its main use, and taxing it. jobs would be created for farmers growing cannabis and factory workers fabricating its many uses such as textile, paper, clothes, feed, bedding, oil, skin care products, cooking herbs, insulation and so on.

    When people talk about how much it would cost to produce cannabis they don’t factor in the many uses it has and how those can also be taxed and sold to generate revenue, not only the growing and smoking of the plant. cannabis financially could do more than sustain itself, revenue generated from cannabis could be put back into the growing and fabricating of cannabis, not only that but the rest of the money could fund rehabilitation programs, go to charity, or even just funneled back into the govt. too help pick up the economy.

    If money is the biggest issue and not the well being of Americans not to mention the Mexicans, its a very sad time. the govt. is supposed to help its people and its friends, but keeping this “plant” (I refused to any longer call cannabis a drug for the simple fact that its nowhere near the level that cocaine or heroine is on) illegal is just forcing Americans and any other consumer to purchase from drug cartels and give them more power that is used to kill, and purchase more weapons.

    Prohibition of cannabis has fuels drug cartel wars, kept our own drug dealers selling and killing, imprisoned many NON-VIOLENT so called drug offenders and we spend $1000’s in tax payer dollars on housing these non-violent offenders, and has kept one of the safest medicinal substances out of reach of the ones who truly need it. above all that, the govt. refuses Americans jobs for the production and fabrication of cannabis.

    yes cannabis is one of the safest medicinal substances because people have never over dosed on cannabis, they have on things like Excedrin or Tylenol, and morphine is legal yet its just about as dangerous as heroine and even more addictive than cigarettes. the dietary, anti-depression, and pregnancy pills that’s readily available to everyone has side effects such as: diarrhea, vomiting, nausea, dizziness, organ failure, etc. and yet cannabis, which only has the side effect of hunger, a state of euphoria, and in some cases sleepiness, has not had a case of cancer, organ failure, or overdose. Alcohol poisoning, cancer, addiction, overdose, and dependency are often cases that occur due to the ingestion of alcohol, cigarettes, or your over the counter drugs. Cannabis is not addicting, i know a multitude of people that have stopped smoking on their own,

    I could go on and on about this subject, but until you do the research you will never fully and truly understand the cannabis plant and its variety of uses, and just how truly safe it is to use, in most of all cases the safest. go to the link i have provided below and you will see the myths of marijuana and the facts that about those myths.

    peace and love to you all

    If your going to fight for the legalization of marijuana please bring an intelligent argument and study the whole aspect of the subject before you actually say something because its those “gibberish” arguments like, “weed should be legalized because it makes you feel good and makes movies better”, that make the ones that are actually trying to say something look bad. show your intelligence and that “pot heads” aren’t in the least bit as ignorant the opposition in that they don’t want to hear the pros to the legalization. there are cons to the legalization, yes there is, but those cons are greatly out weighed by pros.. so just study on the subject and then bring your argument.

    April 15, 2009 at 1:35 pm |