Rand Paul’s Position on Drugs


Official Portrait
Rand Paul, Senator from Kentucky

Rand Paul has spoken a lot about criminal justice reform. He believes that a ten-year jail sentence for someone possessing marijuana is ridiculous. When asked about the unintentional outcomes of the war on drugs, Paul stated one of them was racial problems. He acknowledged that three out of four people in prison from nonviolent drug use are black or brown. However, he also pointed out that according to surveys, young white people are doing drugs at an equal rate, and they are a much bigger part of the population.

So, why are the prisons full of black and brown kids? A simple answer is it’s easier to arrest them. It is easier to convict them. Because a higher proportion of black or brown people live in areas of poverty, they aren’t able to hire the best of attorneys. And, frankly, they live in the city more than in the suburbs, and the police are patrol the city much more vigilantly. But, all of this is unfair. The war on drugs has had a racial outcome of inequality. Rand Paul says this consequence was unintentional and he wants to try to fix it.

Paul, who believes in the legalization of medical marijuana, does point out that he is not arguing for the legalization of drugs altogether, but does believe that those charged with possession should not be incarcerated for extended periods of time. In partnership with Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont, Paul has proposed a bill on mandatory minimums. Currently, there are people in jail for up to 50 years for nonviolent crimes.  Our prisons are full of nonviolent criminals, and that’s a huge mistake that costs taxpayers a lot of money.

Paul’s bill also changes some drug laws in order to try to even out the punishment for similar drugs. He also promotes community treatment instead of federal anti-drug programs. Senator Paul is sticking with his position that communities—not federal programs—should take the lead in stemming drug abuse & providing treatment for addicts. There are a lot of young people who engage in drug use and rather than be placed in jail, could be a given a chance at life again.