Joe Biden on Drugs

Democratic Sr Senator (DE); Vice President-Elect

Took lead on drug policy & narcotics control

Biden has sought to take the lead on drug policy, spearheading creation of a “Drug Czar” and crafting laws to control narcotics--measures that are widely viewed as pretty much of a failure.
Source: The Contenders, by Laura Flanders, p.180 Nov 11, 2007

National ban on smoking would reduce chronic illnesses

Q: Over 400,000 Americans have premature death due to smoking or secondhand smoke. Who would favor a national law to ban smoking in all public places?

BIDEN: Yes. I would ban--in all public [places], nationally.

DODD: 3,000 kids start smoking every day in this country.

RICHARDSON: I did it in New Mexico as a national law.

KUCINICH: You bet I’ll go for a national law.

Q: So Biden, Dodd, Richardson, Gravel and Kucinich in favor of a national law.

EDWARDS: Wait, wait, wait, and Edwards.

BIDEN: Let me also add here as well--with 3,000 young people starting to smoke every single day, one of the major causes of the health care issue and Medicare--is because of chronic illnesses associated with things like smoking. So the idea that we wouldn’t draft a national law to stop this in public places is one of the things you’re going to have to do if you’re going to deal with rising health care costs and the same is true with alcohol.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

Absolutely do not lower drinking age from 21

Q: Would you as president remove the requirement that a state have a legal drinking age of 21 in order to receive federal highway funds, thereby returning the drinking age back to the states?

BIDEN: Absolutely no, I would not. The cost of alcoholism in America, the cost of accidents that flow from drunkenness, are astronomical. This is a gigantic problem, just like the drug issue. And the idea that we’re going to suggest that it makes good sense to move the age down to 18 I find to be counterproductive I would not do that.

DODD: No, I agree with Joe on this. The problems associated with alcohol are significant in our country. The evidence is overwhelming.

GRAVEL: I think we should lower it. Anybody that can go fight and die for this country should be able to drink.

KUCINICH: Of course they should be able to drink at age 18, and they should be able to vote at age 16.

Q: No on 18?


EDWARDS: What was the question?

Q: Lower the drinking age to 18?

EDWARDS: I would not.

Source: 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth College Sep 6, 2007

FactCheck: 40,000 babies with alcohol syndrome, not 300,000

Biden gave a figure many times too high when he claimed that 300,000 babies are born with deformities each year “because of women who are alcoholics while they’re carrying those children.” According to the CDC, roughly 40,000 babies per year suffer from fetal alcohol spectrum disorders. Roughly 120,000 babies suffer from a birth defect of any kind, per year, far below the 300,000 Biden cites as being born specifically to alcoholic mothers. We’re unable to find any support for Biden’s 300,000 figure.
Source: FactCheck.org on 2007 Democratic primary debate at Dartmouth Sep 6, 2007

Increase penalties for dealing drugs near schools

Fighting Drugs: Joe Biden has worked to increase penalties for dealing drugs within 1,000 feet of schools, created the Drug Czar office in the White House, and was an important voice in classifying steroids as drugs and has worked to keep them out of the hands of students.

The Biden Crime Law: Joe Biden wrote the legislation that put 100,000 cops on the streets, and built drug courts to improve rehabilitation treatment for non-violent offenders.

Source: Campaign website, www.joebiden.com, “Issues” Sep 1, 2007

Most violent crime is related to drugs

If you count [all the gun crimes], and they’re almost all related to drugs. They’re almost all related to drugs. And the fact of the matter is we have no drug policy in this country. And, secondly, what we do is we, instead of incarcerating our young blacks and other folks in the inner city who are arrested for a violent crime, instead of separating these juveniles, we put them in with adults. They go ahead and they learn the trade. They learn the trade and they come back out.

Secondly, what we do is we also have a notion here where instead of putting them through this process, we should put them through the drug courts. I’m the guy that authored that drug court policy. We should divert them into treatment.

You want to stop death in your neighborhood, take drugs of the corner. You want to take drugs off the corner, take them out of the prison system and put them into treatment.

Source: 2007 NAACP Presidential Primary Forum Jul 12, 2007

Divert drug offenders out of prison system

  1. The bulk of sentencing inequity is at the state level, not at the federal level.
  2. We need diversion out of the system. I’m the guy that wrote the drug court legislation that is in the law right now.
  3. You have to eliminate the disparity between crack & powdered cocaine. I’ve introduced legislation to do that.
  4. You have to find a way in which you insist that the states apply the law equally--they don’t.
  5. 300,000 will come out addicted from the prison this year
Source: 2007 Democratic Primary Debate at Howard University Jun 28, 2007

Created nation’s Drug Czar Office & drug courts

As the Co-Chairman of the Senate Drug Caucus, Senator Biden has long been a national voice for effective drug control policies. He created the nation’s Drug Czar Office to oversee the federal government’s anti-drug strategy. Biden also helped create “drug courts” that combine intensive supervision, drug testing and treatment for non-violent first offenders.
Source: PAC website, www.UniteOurStates.com Dec 12, 2006

Voted NO on increasing penalties for drug offenses.

Vote to increase penalties on certain drug-related crimes. The amendment would specifically target the manufacturing or trafficking of amphetamines & methamphetamines and possession of powder cocaine, and set stronger penalties for dealing drugs
Reference: Bill S.625 ; vote number 1999-360 on Nov 10, 1999

Voted YES on spending international development funds on drug control.

Vote to add an additional $53 million (raising the total to $213 million) to international narcotics control funding, and pay for it by taking $25 million from international operations funding and $28 million from development assistance.
Reference: Bill HR 3540 ; vote number 1996-244 on Jul 25, 1996

Rename "Drug Abuse" institute as "Diseases of Addiction".

Biden introduced renaming "Drug Abuse" institute as "Diseases of Addiction"

A bill to change the name of the National Institute on Drug Abuse to the National Institute on Diseases of Addiction; and to change the name of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism to the National Institute on Alcohol Disorders and Health. Congress makes the following findings: