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Beto O`Rourke on Drugs

Democratic candidate for President; Texas Senator nominee

 


Decriminalize marijuana; expunge criminal records

He is in favor of decriminalization and expunging criminal records of cannabis-related offenses.
Source: Axios.com "What you need to know about 2020" , Apr 29, 2019

1998 drunk driving: arresting officers say he tried to flee

The former police officer who arrested Beto O'Rourke for driving drunk in 1998, along with the sergeant who signed the incident report, both say they believe now what they reported at the time: that O'Rourke tried to leave the scene of the wreck he caused.

O'Rourke admits he was intoxicated and says there is no justification for his actions, but he has denied that he tried to flee. "Beto's DWI is something he has long publicly and openly addressed over the last 20 years at town halls, on the debate stage, during interviews and in Op-Eds, calling it a serious mistake for which there is no excuse," said an O'Rourke spokesman. "This has been widely and repeatedly reported on."

[The original police report asserted], "The defendant/driver then attempted to leave the scene. The [police officer] then turned on his over head lights to warn oncoming traffic & to try to get the defendant to stop. When I made contact with the driver, defendant was unable to be understood due to slurred speech."

Source: Texas Tribune on 2020 presidential hopefuls , Apr 24, 2019

Arrested for drunk driving at age 25; license suspended

Beto was 25 when he was arrested for drunk driving, an incident that would become a flash point in his campaign against Ted Cruz, and will likely become one again in a presidential race.

The police report describes O'Rourke driving at high speed and sideswiping a truck going in the same direction, then jumping the median into the oncoming lane at about two in the morning. According to a police witness, he tried to drive away from the scene of the accident. O'Rourke maintains that this isn't true.

O'Rourke was taking his date, named Michelle, back to her home in Las Cruces when the accident happened. He failed a sobriety test and was handcuffed. In his telling, he was pathetic but nonetheless chivalrous: When police left his friend in a gas-station parking lot, a handcuffed O'Rourke asked them to take cash out of his jeans so she could get home. His father posted bail. His license was suspended, and he had to take a bus to his job working at his mom's furniture store.

Source: Joe Hagan in Vanity Fair on 2020 Democratic primary , Mar 13, 2019

Dealing Drugs and Death: 2011 call for legalization

In 2011, O'Rourke teamed up with a fellow council member, Susie Byrd, to publish a political tract titled "Dealing Drugs and Death," arguing for drug legalization to curtail the cartel wars that had de-stabilized the border. The tract was nobody's idea of a great political move--drug legalization was still on the fringes of mainstream politics in 2011--but it set the stage for a run for Congress against the eight-term incumbent, Silvestre Reyes, a former border-patrol guard who supported the War on Drugs and made his name advocating for border fencing. The odds against beating an incumbent were long, but O'Rourke and his new campaign manager, David Wysong, a local health-care executive who had never run a congressional campaign, tabulated the voter turnout they would need to win--which for O'Rourke translated to numbers of doors he needed to knock on. "How many doors? How many people behind each door?" Wysong recalls.
Source: Joe Hagan in Vanity Fair on 2020 Democratic primary , Mar 13, 2019

Treat drug abuse as public health issue, not criminal

We lose 70,000 of our fellow Americans to drug overdose deaths. We can treat this as a criminal justice issue or show real compassion and treat it as a public health issue. I want to have smart drug control policy. I want to acknowledge that we have the largest prison population per capita on the face of the planet, many serving time for possession of a substance that is perfectly legal or decriminalized or medicinalized in more than half the states in the union.

I don't want to legalize narcotics. I do think we should end the prohibition on marijuana and effectively control and regulate its sale and make sure those who need it for medicinal purposes are able to obtain it through a prescription from their doctor.

Source: CNN Town Hall: 2020 presidential hopefuls , Oct 18, 2018

Long-time advocate for marijuana legalization

Q: Legalize or decriminalize marijuana?

Ted Cruz (R): Personally opposed to legalization, but states should choose for themselves.

Beto O'Rourke (D): Yes. Long-time legalization advocate. Sponsored bill to end federal prohibition.

Source: 2018 CampusElect.org Issue Guide on Texas Senate race , Oct 9, 2018

End prohibition on marijuana, expunge records of possessors

Second, we need to end the failed war on drugs that has long been a war on people, waged on some people over other people. Who is going to be the last man--more likely than not a black man--to languish behind bars for possessing or using marijuana when it is legal in more than half of the states in this country? We should end the federal prohibition on marijuana and expunge the records of those who were locked away for possessing it
Source: O'Rourke OpEd in Houston Chronicle: 2020 Democratic primary , Aug 27, 2018

Exclude industrial hemp from definition of marijuana.

O`Rourke co-sponsored Industrial Hemp Farming Act

Sponsor's Remarks:
Rep. PAUL: Nine States allow industrial hemp production or research in accord with State laws. However, Federal law is standing in the way of farmers in these States growing what may be a very profitable crop. Because of current Federal law, all hemp included in products sold in the US must be imported instead of being grown by American farmers. Since 1970, the federal Controlled Substances Act's inclusion of industrial hemp in the "schedule one" definition of marijuana has prohibited American farmers from growing industrial hemp despite the fact that industrial hemp has such a low content of THC (the psychoactive chemical in the related marijuana plant) that nobody can be psychologically affected by consuming hemp.

The US is the only industrialized nation that prohibits industrial hemp cultivation. Industrial hemp is a crop that was grown legally throughout the US for most of our Nation's history. In fact, during World War II, the Federal Government actively encouraged American farmers to grow industrial hemp to help the war effort. It is unfortunate that the Federal Government has stood in the way of American farmers competing in the global industrial hemp market. Indeed, the founders of our Nation, some of whom grew hemp, would surely find that federal restrictions on farmers growing a safe and profitable crop on their own land are inconsistent with the constitutional guarantee of a limited Government.

Source: HR1831/S3501/HR525(2013) 12-S3501 on Aug 2, 2012

Exempt industrial hemp from marijuana laws.

O`Rourke signed Industrial Hemp Farming Act

Congressional Summary:Amends the Controlled Substances Act to exclude industrial hemp from the definition of "marihuana." Defines "industrial hemp" to mean the plant Cannabis sativa and any part of such plant, whether growing or not, with a THC concentration of not more than 0.3%.

Argument in favor (Sen. Ron Wyden):

Members of Congress hear a lot about how dumb regulations are hurting economic growth and job creation. The current ban on growing industrial hemp is hurting job creation in rural America and increasing our trade deficit. This bill will end this ridiculous regulation. Right now, the US is importing over $10 million in hemp products--a crop that US farmers could be profitably growing right here at home, if not for government rules prohibiting it. Now, even though hemp and marijuana come from the same species of plant, there are major differences between them. The Chihuahua and St. Bernard come from the same species, too, but no one is going to confuse them.

Argument in opposition (Drug Enforcement Agency):

Argument in opposition (DrugWatch.org 10/30/2013):

Source: S.359/H.R.525 14_H0525 on Feb 14, 2013

Immunity for banks offering services to marijuana businesses.

O`Rourke co-sponsored immunity for banks offering services to marijuana businesses

Congressional Summary:This bill provides a safe harbor for depository institutions providing financial services to a marijuana-related legitimate business insofar as it prohibits a federal banking regulator from:

  1. terminating or limiting the deposit or share insurance of a depository institution solely because it provides financial services to a marijuana-related legitimate business; or
  2. prohibiting, penalizing, or otherwise discouraging a depository institution from offering such services.
Immunity from federal criminal prosecution or investigation is granted, subject to certain conditions, to a depository institution that provides financial services to a marijuana-related legitimate business in a state or one of its political subdivisions that allows the cultivation, production, manufacture, sale, transportation, display, dispensing, distribution, or purchase of marijuana.

Argument in Favor: [Cato Institute, March 31, 2016]: Marijuana is now legal under the laws of [several] states, but not under federal law. And this creates huge headaches for marijuana businesses:

Source: H.R.2076 & S.1726 16-HR2076 on Apr 28, 2015

Other candidates on Drugs: Beto O`Rourke on other issues:
2020 Presidential Democratic Primary Candidates:
Sen.Michael Bennet (D-CO)
V.P.Joe Biden (D-DE)
Gov.Steve Bullock (D-MT)
Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-IN)
Sen.Cory Booker (D-NJ)
Secy.Julian Castro (D-TX)
Mayor Bill de Blasio (D-NYC)
Rep.John Delaney (D-MD)
Rep.Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Sen.Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Sen.Mike Gravel (D-AK)
Sen.Kamala Harris (D-CA)
Gov.John Hickenlooper (D-CO)
Gov.Larry Hogan (D-MD)
Gov.Jay Inslee (D-WA)
Sen.Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
Mayor Wayne Messam (D-FL)
Rep.Seth Moulton (D-MA)
Rep.Beto O`Rourke (D-TX)
Rep.Tim Ryan (D-CA)
Sen.Bernie Sanders (I-VT)
Rep.Eric Swalwell (D-CA)
Sen.Elizabeth Warren (D-MA)
Marianne Williamson (D-CA)
CEO Andrew Yang (D-NY)

2020 GOP and Independent Candidates:
Rep.Justin Amash (Libertarian-MI)
Howie Hawkins (Green-NY)
Gov.John Kasich (R-OH)
V.P.Mike Pence (R-IN)
CEO Howard Schultz (I-WA)
Pres.Donald Trump (R-NY)
Gov.Jesse Ventura (I-MN)
V.C.Arvin Vohra (Libertarian-MD)
Gov.Bill Weld (R-MA&L-NY)

2020 Withdrawn Candidates:
State Rep.Stacey Abrams (D-GA)
Mayor Mike Bloomberg (I-NYC)
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Page last updated: Jun 03, 2019