Jesse Ventura on Drugs

Former Independent MN Governor

Banks & prison-industrial complex gets rich on the drug war

Federal law still considers marijuana a dangerous illegal drug, although 14 states have now enacted laws allowing for some use for medical purposes.

Let me cite a few statistics that I find mind-boggling. According to NORML, an advocacy group for legalizing marijuana, more than 700,000 of America's estimated 20 million pot-smokers got arrested in 2008. About HALF of the 200,000 inmates in our federal prisons are in there for drug-related offenses. Between 1970 and 2007, we saw a 547% increase in our prison population, mainly because of our drug policies. Of course, that's just fine with the new prison-industrial complex, where corporations are now running the show. We as taxpayers shell out $68 billion every year for prisons, & a lot of that end up going into private contractors' pockets!

Of course, they're not the only ones getting rich. Well-documented federal reports lead to the conclusion that American banks are "collectively the world's largest financial beneficiary of the drug trade."

Source: American Conspiracies, by Jesse Ventura, p.114 , Mar 8, 2010

Drug addiction is a health problem, not a crime

Nobody’s ever been able to explain to me why we waste prison cells on drug addicts. Drug addiction is a consensual crime, it’s a “crime against oneself.” How can we justify letting violent criminals go because of overcrowding, when there are so many people behind bars whose only crime is they’re addicted to something Drug addiction is a health problem; it should be treated medically, not criminally. If we treated it that way, it would provide a tremendous relief to the prison systems. Not only that, but many of the users could be paying taxes while they were in outpatient treatment instead of being a burden to the rest of us.

I keep hearing case after case of somebody doing ten years for drug possession sitting in a cell next to somebody doing two years for a violent crime. Marijuana can get you more time than assault. We’ve got to change that. Prisons should be reserved for violent criminals. Putting anybody else in there is a misdirection, and a complete waste of government resources.

Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.157 , Jul 2, 2000

Drug War fails like Prohibition did

I believe the war on drugs is a failure for the same reasons Prohibition was a failure. My mom told me about that. She lived through it. She saw that as soon as the government made alcohol consumption illegal, criminals cornered the market on liquor. Getting alcohol went from a safe, legal, affordable activity to one that often involved bloodshed and obscene amounts of money. And it gave rise to half a dozen other crimes as well. It caused a huge groundswell in organized crime. It made a lot of criminals rich. Today, illegal drug use is doing the exact same thing.

Just imagine if we could find some way for addicts to get their drugs cheaply, safely, and legally. The bottom would drop out of the illegal drug market. We’d see a huge drop in organized and violent crime.

Source: Do I Stand Alone, by Jesse Ventura, p.161 , Jul 2, 2000

Stopped taking steroids & made FDA posters against them

Back in the 1980s, when steroids were legal, wrestlers were eating them like candy. It was accepted. Then all of a sudden, when Ben Johnson got caught using them in the 1992 Olympics, they became the Scourge of Humanity.

I had been talking about them for years, saying, “Doesn’t anybody else out there see what’s going on?” Steroids came into wrestling with the advent of the bodybuilder physique popularized by “Superstar” Billy Graham [a professional wrestler], who suffers grave medical problems to this day from his past use. Not only do they shorten your life, but guys who took a lot of them were susceptible to what became known as “’roid rage.” They’d suddenly snap under the slightest pressure and would go into a frenzy.

I used steroids occasionally myself. I would take testosterone for 30 days, then I’d go off it for nine months. But I later found out they were destructive. I even did a poster for the FDA once, explaining that I once took them and warning kids not to use them.

Source: Ain’t Got Time to Bleed, p.145-6 , Jan 1, 1999

Tougher drunk-driving laws for repeat offenders

There’s no question that we need tougher drunk-driving laws for repeat offenders. We need to take a lesson from European countries where driving isn’t a right but a privilege. There isn’t a person on this planet by this time who doesn’t know that when you consume alcohol you shouldn’t get behind the wheel of a car. The people who do it anyway should have their privilege to drive taken away.
Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p. 38 , Jan 1, 1999

Stop being so afraid of marijuana; some uses are OK

Our government has the weirdest bias against cannabis. There’s no reason for everybody to be so afraid of it. It’s not the antichrist the DEA makes it out to be. Industrial hemp is a very useful plant. I challenged the attorney general to get rid of the criminal stigma associated with hemp so we can look at it in terms of how it might be useful. And government has no business telling us what we can and can’t use for pain relief.
Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p. 38 , Jan 1, 1999

The war on drugs has failed; look for other solutions

We shouldn’t be wasting so much time and so many resources on prosecuting consensual crimes such as prostitution and drug possession. I hold drug possession and drug dealing as two totally different concepts. The drug dealers who resort to deadly street violence should be dealt with severely as the criminals they are.

But we have to become willing to admit as a nation that our war against drugs has failed. And we have to start looking for other solutions. I want the drug business stopped. But I know it never will stop as long as people want the drugs. It’s supply and demand. You can even get drugs in prison.

But if there were no more demand for drugs, gangs and drug dealers would be out of business. I think the key lies in keeping young people from becoming their customers in the first place. If parents get involved, and if schools educate young people about the dangers of drugs, we can dry up the drug dealers’ customer base. That’s how we win the war.

Source: Ain’t Got Time To Bleed, p. 40-1 , Jan 1, 1999

Rethink approach to drugs; “more of the same” fails

To successfully address the drug problem, we need to rethink our approach from the bottom up. Career politicians can beat their chests all day long and talk about how tough they are on drugs. That approach is already a proven failure. While politicians wage their war on drugs, the drug dealers are winning it.

We don’t need more of the same. We need to rethink our approach. As your Governor, I’ll bring people together and provide the administrative resources to facilitate that rethinking process.

Source: E-Democracy Debate , Oct 5, 1998

Jail won’t work when we can’t even keep drugs out of prisons

Q: What about Minnesota’s climbing prison population and an apparent stalemate in the war on drugs?

A: Overcrowded prisons and increasing criminal justice expenses are partially due to the misguided way the war on drugs is being waged. Harsh drug sentences have filled our prisons to overflowing with non-violent offenders. Have these harsh sentences worked? No. Does the average citizen feel we are winning the war on drugs? No. Does it make sense to consider new approaches to the so-called drug problem? Absolutely.

Under our current laws, we can’t even keep illegal drugs out of prison. How can we expect to keep illegal drugs off the streets? It doesn’t matter how many drug dealers and users we put in jail. As long as people use illegal drugs, and huge amounts of money can be made by selling them, there will always be more dealers to replace the ones we lock away.

Source: E-Democracy Debate , Oct 5, 1998

More federal funding for all aspects of Drug War.

Ventura adopted the National Governors Association policy:

Source: NGA policy HR-13: Combating and Controlling Substance Abuse 00-NGA2 on Aug 15, 2000

Other governors on Drugs: Jesse Ventura on other issues:
MN Gubernatorial:
Mark Dayton
MN Senatorial:
Al Franken
Amy Klobuchar

Newly seated 2010:
NJ Chris Christie
VA Bob McDonnell

Term-limited as of Jan. 2011:
AL Bob Riley
CA Arnold Schwarzenegger
GA Sonny Perdue
HI Linda Lingle
ME John Baldacci
MI Jennifer Granholm
NM Bill Richardson
OK Brad Henry
OR Ted Kulongoski
PA Ed Rendell
RI Donald Carcieri
SC Mark Sanford
SD Mike Rounds
TN Phil Bredesen
WY Dave Freudenthal
Newly Elected Nov. 2010:
AL: Robert Bentley (R)
CA: Jerry Brown (D)
CO: John Hickenlooper (D)
CT: Dan Malloy (D)
FL: Rick Scott (R)
GA: Nathan Deal (R)
HI: Neil Abercrombie (D)
IA: Terry Branstad (R)
KS: Sam Brownback (R)
ME: Paul LePage (R)
MI: Rick Snyder (R)
MN: Mark Dayton (D)
ND: Jack Dalrymple (R)
NM: Susana Martinez (R)
NV: Brian Sandoval (R)
NY: Andrew Cuomo (D)
OH: John Kasich (R)
OK: Mary Fallin (R)
PA: Tom Corbett (R)
RI: Lincoln Chafee (I)
SC: Nikki Haley (R)
SD: Dennis Daugaard (R)
TN: Bill Haslam (R)
VT: Peter Shumlin (D)
WI: Scott Walker (R)
WY: Matt Mead (R)
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Page last updated: Nov 23, 2011