Presidential Candidate Says Federal Law Should Treat Pot Like Alcohol

Kucinich Promises To End Marijuana Arrests; Establish “Guidelines Similar To Those Already In Place For Alcohol”

Washington, DC: If elected, Presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) would end federal criminal prohibitions on the use of marijuana for recreational purposes, and establish national guidelines to regulate it like alcohol, according to a recent position paper posted on the “Kucinich for President” website.

“Current drug policy … regards all users as abusers, and the result has been the creation of an unnecessary class of lawbreakers,” Kucinich states in his position paper, entitled “Marijuana Decriminalization.” “A Kucinich administration would reject the current paradigm of ‘all use is abuse’ in favor of a drug policy that sets reasonable boundaries for marijuana use by establishing guidelines similar to those already in place for alcohol.”

Kucinich has previously spoken out strongly in favor of allowing the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and recently stated that he supported decriminalizing marijuana at a November 4, 2003 Presidential debate aired live on CNN.

“Non-violent marijuana users comprise the bulk of the half-million Americans imprisoned for drug violations, and many frequently serve longer sentences than do those convicted of violent crimes,” Kucinich states on his website. “The rationale for continuing these draconian policies is unclear. Statistical evidence shows that marijuana use follows a pattern very similar to that of alcohol. Most marijuana users do so responsibly, in a safe, recreational context. These people lead normal, productive lives ­ pursuing careers, raising families and participating in civic life.

“In addition, marijuana has proven benefits in the treatment of numerous diseases, such as providing a valuable means of pain management for terminally ill patients. In either of these contexts, there is no rational justification for criminally enforced prohibitions. These unnecessary arrests and incarcerations serve only to crowd prisons, clog the judicial system, and distract law enforcement officials from violent crime. … By … moving away from criminally-enforced drug prohibitions, we will be moving toward safer streets and stronger communities.”

NORML Foundation Executive Director Allen St. Pierre said that Kucinich is the first Democratic Presidential candidate since Jimmy Carter to make the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use a campaign issue. Previously, Kucinich, Massachusetts Congressman John Kerry, and front-runner Howard Dean had each voiced varying degrees of support for the use of medicinal marijuana – though as Vermont Governor, Dean vigorously opposed passage of a 2002 proposed law that would have legalized it for qualified patients. According to the Kucinich for President website, Kucinich would issue an ‘executive order allowing marijuana for medical purposes, [and] end [the] DEA raids on medical marijuana patients and their providers.’ For more information, please contact either Allen St. Pierre or Paul Armentano of The NORML Foundation at (202) 483-8751. To learn more about the candidates’ positions on marijuana-related issues, please visit: Dennis Kucinich’s “Marijuana Decriminalization” position paper is available online at: