Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Gingrich - Death to Drug Importers

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich. (Getty Images)

Newton Leroy "Newt" Gingrich is an American politician, author, and political consultant. Currently, he is a candidate for the 2012 Republican Party presidential nomination. Gingrich is known for having some very right-wing extremist views, one of which includes a strong stance against drugs.
In 1996 as Speaker of the House of Representatives, Gingrich proposed a law that would allow the United States to incarcerate repeat drug importers to the death sentence. The bill was known as H.R. 4170: Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996 and states:
Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996 - Amends the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act to direct the court to sentence a person convicted of bringing into the United States a proscribed quantity of a mixture or substance containing a controlled substance in an amount the Attorney General has determined is equal to 100 usual dosage amounts to life imprisonment without possibility of release (or, if the defendant has violated such provision on more than one occasion and if certain requirements under the Federal criminal code are met, to death). Makes conforming amendments to the code.
Gingrich has confessed to once smoking pot when he was younger and has said that experimenting with drugs, “was a sign we were alive and in graduate school in that era.”

"That was a sign we were alive and in graduate school in that era," he told New York magazine in 1995 of his illegal drug use. And in 1982, he penned a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association calling for the legalization of medical cannabis. Federal law, he wrote, "continues to define marijuana as a drug 'with no accepted medical use,' and federal agencies continue to prohibit physician-patient access to marijuana. This outdated federal prohibition is corrupting the intent of the state laws and depriving thousands of glaucoma and cancer patients of the medical care promised them by their state legislatures."

While it's hard to pinpoint exactly when Gingrich went from calling for marijuana legalization to introducing legislation sentencing pot smugglers to death, his peculiar evolution certainly merits an explanation.

"See, when I smoked pot it was illegal," he reportedly told the Wall Street Journal's Hilary Stout in 1996, "but not immoral. Now, it is illegal AND immoral. The law didn’t change, only the morality... That's why you get to go to jail and I don't."

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