Clinton v Trump – Drug policies examined

It has been settled.

Americans will have to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the general elections. Now that it has all been decided, it is time to analyse their position on drugs.

Hillary Clinton

As Secretary of State, Clinton was behind the War on Drugs both at home and abroad. Under her leadership, the State Department pushed the Mexican drug war by funding efforts to combat drug trafficking.  Over the course of the ensuing conflict billions of weapons were sold to Mexico, pushing it to become one of the biggest purchasers of U.S military arms and equipment.  Over 160,000 people were killed over the course of the war. Her role in the conflict makes her appear a drug warrior that will only  push for more stringent drug regulation.

Hillary’s position on drugs has since changed.  Her campaign website under the Hillary Clinton on criminal justice reform section points out this fact.  On narcotics she says her government will take action on mandatory minimum sentences because nonviolent drug offenders stay longer than necessary in prison.  On marijuana, she says her government will focus federal enforcement resources on violent crime instead of simple marijuana possession.  According to her, this is an important step to take because Marijuana arrests account for a huge number of drug arrests. Hillary equally now believes that drug addiction should be treated as a health issue with more people encouraged to check into rehabs.

Donald Trump

Donald Trump has not held any public office in the past but his stance on drugs is well documented. The first example came in 1990 when the Sarasota Herald-Tribune recorded Trump as calling for the legalisation of all drugs in other to take the profits away from the cartels.  He said tax revenues from the legalised drug trade can be used to educate the public on the dangers of drug use.

For many, this stance shows a candidate that is not concerned about the impact of drug use but rather focused on ensuring that the biggest drug lords are from the USA due to the potential capital benefits.  

However, as has been the norm with him during the course of the elections, Donald Trump’s stance was shifted slightly when he recently mentioned in an interview that medical marijuana should be allowed at the federal level whilst marijuana usage should be decided at the state levels.  He has been poked severally to repeat his stance from 1990 on how to tackle drugs but he has refused to repeat his opinion and legalisation and using proceeds on education. His standard approach in recent times has been to employ politispeak and decry the USA’s efforts concerning drugs whilst promising to change things around? How?  Like most of his other policies, his drugs stance is murky and we may have to wait until the elections are won and policies start playing out to know where he stands.

Some believe that his openness to making medical marijuana legalised across the country points to a candidate that could do more for nonviolent drug use but with him, there are no guarantees.

Hillary Clinton appears to have a clearly defined path to improved drugs legislation but her past means there is some level of scepticism across the voting public to judge her based on that. However, Donald Trump’s lack of clarity on the issue makes her look like a winner on this front.