November 28, 2011. Naples, Fla. During a book signing in Florida this weekend that opened to overflow crowds, the new GOP Presidential frontrunner Newt Gingrich sat down with reporters. Instead of the three-second sound bites, the former House Speaker took the time to elaborate a little more fully on some of his key issues. The issue asked about most – medical marijuana.
Yahoo News sat down with Newt Gingrich and captured some of his responses in a rare one-on-one interview. Among the first questions asked was regarding the former Speaker’s flip flop on the issue of medical marijuana.
It’s a little known fact that in a past life Mr. Gingrich not only supported the legalization of medical marijuana, he actually sponsored a House bill in 1981that would do just that. The former Speaker has since reversed his position. Yahoo News asked the former Speaker to explain what had changed. Gingrich explained, “What has changed was the number of parents I met with who said they did not want their children to get the signal from the government that it was acceptable behavior and that they were prepared to say as a matter of value that it was better to send a clear signal on no drug use at the risk of inconveniencing some people, than it was to be compassionate toward a small group at the risk of telling a much larger group that it was okay to use the drug. It’s a change of information. Within a year of my original support of that bill I withdrew it.”
By 1996, House Speaker Gingrich had taken his drug policy switch even further to the extreme. That was the year Gingrich introduced a bill that would have given the death penalty to drug smugglers. When asked if he still supports that position, Gingrich replied, “I think if you are, for example, the leader of a cartel, sure.” He went on to offer an example, “Places like Singapore have been the most successful at doing that. They’ve been very draconian. And they have communicated with great intention that they intend to stop drugs from coming into their country.”
As far as helping drug addicts kick the habit and in response to the nation’s overcrowded prisons, Gingrich breaks from the GOP saying, “I don’t think actually locking up users is a very good thing. I think finding ways to sanction them and to give them medical help and to get them to detox is a more logical long-term policy.” Unfortunately, a future President Gingrich would have difficulty passing such measures. Cutting social programs like those are a bedrock of his own Republican Party.
Voters seeking more information on Newt Gingrich’s drug policy will have to wait for additional details. The former Speaker says his campaign plans to release a comprehensive proposal regarding the nation’s drug policy, but not until sometime next year.
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