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Governor-Elect Speaks Out Against Drug War

 By Tom Murlowski, Associate Director, TNC


On Election Tuesday, 1998, a day filled with drama and upset, one accomplishment stands out. In a stunning, unprecedented victory, Jesse Ventura was elected to lead the great state of Minnesota into the 21st Century.

Governer-elect Jesse Ventura
Ventura's past job descriptions include Navy SEAL, professional wrestler, talk show host, and mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota. After a slick, successful media campaign, and solid performance in the gubernatorial debates, he soundly defeated both major party candidates in what is certainly the political coup of the decade.

Governer-elect Ventura ran a for-the-people campaign under the Reform Party banner, vocally speaking out against the failed drug war, calling it "a disaster." He even went so far as to publicly consider full drug legalization and regulation, citing the success of the Dutch model of drug policy.

Ventura appeared on Meet The Press following the election. Here are some excerpts from that broadcast.

TIM RUSSERT: You've said a couple of controversial things during the campaign, and I want to give you a chance to talk about them so we have your full beliefs in context. The first involved drugs, and let me put on the screen some comments and give you a chance to talk about them. "Hemp or marijuana is not addictive. Decriminalize it and get those drug dealers to start paying taxes." And "what you do in the privacy of your own home is your own business. If someone takes LSD and locks themselves up at home, why should I care? Anyway, I've done way more stupid things on alcohol than I've ever done on pot." What is your sense of drugs, Governor-Elect?

GOV-ELECT VENTURA: Well, my sense is this, you know, I believe you've got to fight the war from the demand side, not the supply side. I mean, for goodness sake, we have Stillwater State Penitentiary here and we can't keep drugs out of there, and these people are locked up 24 hours a day. If you're going to fight the war on drugs, you fight it on the demand side. And I don't believe that government should be invading the privacy of our own homes, and I also believe that you shouldn't be legislating stupidity. If there are stupid people out there doing stupid things, it's not the government's job to try to make them be smarter. We live in a land of freedom. And again, if we can't keep drugs out of the state penitentiary, how on earth do they propose we're going to do it out on the street corner? You fight it on the demand side. You get people to be smart and intelligent. It's like a business. You don't create a product because of supply; you create it because there's a demand for it. . . .and I also believe medicinal marijuana should be allowed. I mean, my goodness, a doctor can give you a prescription for morphine and yet they can't prescribe you marijuana? I think that should be left up to the medical community for people that are that ill and in that much pain. I don't believe the government should be telling them what they can or cannot use. It should be in the medical community and up to the doctors and physicians to do that.

Jesse Ventura has proven that a major political figure can openly oppose the status quo of drug policy and still win the favor of the people. His election, along with the nationwide clean sweep of the various medical marijuana initiatives, sends a strong message to government to get out of people's private lives and personal behaviors. Let us hope more of our elected officials will have the moral courage to follow suit.

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