In an interview on Friday, Mayor Pete Buttigieg (D-Church of Social Justice) clarified his drug policy, calling for decriminalization of all drugs including methamphetamine, cocaine, and ecstasy.
“Incarceration should not even be a response to drug possession,” Buttigieg told editors at the Des Moines Register.
An editor pressed him, “Is that across the board? So if it’s meth or coke or ecstasy, any drugs, if it’s possession, incarceration isn’t…”
“That’s right,” Mayor Pete said.
“I would not have said even five years ago what I believe now, which is that incarceration should not even be a response to drug possession,” the candidate added. “What I’ve seen is that while there continue to be all kinds of harms associated with drug possession and use, it’s also the case that we have created—in an effort to deal with what amounts to a public health problem—we have created an even bigger problem. A justice problem and its form of a health problem.”
Buttigieg’s campaign platform would indeed ban any jail time for any kind of drug possession. “Eliminate incarceration for drug possession, reduce sentences for other drug offenses and apply these reductions retroactively, legalize marijuana, and expunge past convictions,” his Criminal Justice Reform web page explains. While most 2020 Democrats support marijuana legalization, few have called for the decriminalization of all drugs in this way.
Mayor Pete has held this stance for a while, but this video drew new attention to the issue.
Bill Bennett, President George H.W. Bush’s drug czar, called Mayor Pete’s plan “crazy.”
“This is crazy. This is a bright guy. I don’t agree with him, but obviously he’s a guy of some subtlety and intellect,” Bennett told Fox News. “No subtlety here. He acknowledges the harm that these drugs do—goodness gracious, it’s incredible the harm these drugs do.”
“We have a terrible problem going on in this country,” he added. “We do not need to encourage more of it.”
Early this month, a South Park episode featured a montage involving the legalization of cocaine. Thanks in part to Mayor Pete, this episode may turn out to have been prophetic.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.