A Democratic lawmaker who many political observers believe will likely be the next chairman of the powerful U.S. House Judiciary Committee implied in an interview on Wednesday that he supports legalizing other currently illicit drugs in addition to marijuana.
“From everything we have learned, people are going to do drugs. And certainly the softer drugs like marijuana, there’s no good reason at all that they cannot be legalized and regulated properly,” Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) said.
“The major effect of the war on drugs has been to fill our prisons with huge numbers of people to no great effect except to waste money and to ruin lives.”
In the comments, which Nadler made during an interview with WNYC’s Brian Lehrer Show, the congressman did not specify with substances he believes should be legalized, but his use of the pluralized phrase “softer drugs like marijuana” and the word “they” suggests his anti-prohibition views extend beyond just cannabis.
There is no precise definition of what constitutes a “soft drug” as compared to a “hard drug,” but some analysts categorize substances like LSD, psilocybin and MDMA in the former category in light of their lack of addictive potential.
Nadler is currently the top ranking Democrat on the Judiciary Committee, which has oversight of the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal law enforcement agencies involved in drug enforcement and prosecution. If Democrats take control of the House in the midterm elections, as many poll watchers predict, he would likely ascend to the panel’s chairmanship and have the power to bring marijuana and other drug reform bills up for a vote.
Also in the radio interview, Nadler called the war on drugs an “abject failure” that is “not succeeding in reducing crime or doing anything else.”
“We ought to look at drugs as a public health issue.”
The comments came shortly after another key Democrat, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), released an eight-page memo to fellow party members laying out a step-by-step strategy for how they can accomplish federal marijuana legalization in 2019 if they take control of one or both chambers of Congress. The plan includes a hearing on marijuana descheduling before the Judiciary Committee.
When it comes to marijuana, Nadler sees it as “far less damaging than nicotine to people’s health and we should probably regulate it similarly,” he said in the interview, adding that its current restrictive Schedule I status “doesn’t make any sense.”
See the original article published on Marijuana Moment below:
Marijuana And Other Drugs Should Be Legalized, Likely Next House Judiciary Chair Says
The concept of gateway drugs has been around for several decades. In fact, the idea was introduced exactly 40 years ago. In 1975, Denise Kandel, a professor of sociomedical sciences at Columbia University, coined the term “gateway drug.” What many don’t know: Despite adoption by anti-cannabis prohibitionists, Kandel was actually referring to nicotine.
Promoted by Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign in the 1980s and modern day politicians like Chris Christie — who recently called marijuana both a gateway drug and highly addictive — the idea that use of cannabis often leads to consumption of harder drugs has been debated for decades.
Black Market Effect
Unfortunately, there is some credence to the gateway theory. Instead of being caused by the mere use of cannabis, however, support for the gateway theory arises instead from the black market caused by prohibition. Where illegal and not available via safe access, users wanting simply to obtain cannabis must obviously seek it from underground dealers. Often, these dealers also sell harder drugs, like cocaine, meth, or heroin. With tens of millions of people purchasing cannabis on the black market in the majority of states where it remains illegal, the mere exposure of marijuana consumers to harder drugs may convince a small percentage to actually experiment with these highly addictive substances.
Sociology professor Miriam Boeri, in a recent article entitled Why are Politicians Still Referring to Marijuana as a Gateway Drug?, argues that poverty, social environment, association with hard drug users, and mental illness are actually much better predictors of hard drug use than the mere consumption of marijuana. Boeri wrote:
“Crime has not increased in states that have legalized marijuana; it’s actually gone down. Surprisingly, opiate overdose deaths have gone down as well. If anything, marijuana can work as a gateway out of hard drug use.”
Nicotine is the Gatekeeper
In fact, it seems that cigarettes and, more specifically, nicotine, are the real culprits in gateway exposure. In a recent study, Kandel and her husband, Eric Kandel (a Nobel Prize-winning neurologist), discovered scientific evidence of nicotine’s role in hard drug addiction. The researchers concluded:
“Nicotine acts as a gateway drug on the brain, and this effect is likely to occur whether the exposure is from smoking tobacco, passive tobacco smoke, or e-cigarettes.”
The next time someone mentions gateway drugs, don’t think of cannabis. Instead, look toward the common tobacco cigarette. It seems the real culprit has been right under our noses all along….