Jim Webb (D. VA), "Treat Drugs Like Cigarettes - Not As A Crime" 

Jim Webb (D. VA), "Treat Drugs Like Cigarettes - Not As A Crime"

There's been many great diaries about the 2016 Election focused on the GOP clown car, Hillary Clinton's campaign and Bernie Sanders rising momentum. I am actually happy that there is an emerging primary in the Democratic field. I like to highlight the other candidates campaigns and stances on the issue because if we are going to have a serious primary, I want some issues to get some more traction. Former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D. VA) has jumped into the race and I like where he's going with this:


Former Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), who on Thursday made his presidential ambitions official, suggested earlier this week that he supports decriminalizing drug use, a position that makes him the most progressive voice on drug policy among the current field of contenders.

"Just as in mental health issues, I don't think it makes a lot of sense to put someone in jail when they have a disease, when they have an illness, a physical illness," Webb said Tuesday at the National Sheriffs' Association Conference in Baltimore. "There've got to be better ways for us to approach the issues of drug use in America."

Speaking before an audience of about 100 sheriffs, Webb also stressed the value of drug policies that prioritize harm reduction and education over enforcement and incarceration.

"We didn't make cigarettes illegal," said Webb. "We just got the information out there and educated people about the potential harm."

This approach, he added, proved effective at reducing cigarette use.

"That is actually a success of education regarding your health, more than punitive law per se, and there have to be similar approaches when it comes to drug use," he said.

Webb's team did not respond to a request for comment.

The populist Democrat has never been shy about challenging the government's prohibition-above-all approach to drug policy. Webb was a leader on criminal justice reform during his one term in the Senate, and in 2009, he established a commission to create a set of legislative proposals to help scale back mass incarceration. At the time, he suggested to The Huffington Post that marijuana legalization would be on the table. The commission was ultimately blocked by Webb's Senate colleagues.

If Webb runs on a bold drug policy platform that includes decriminalization, or even legalization, he could force a more wide-ranging debate on the issue than we've seen in the past.

Drug policy reformers are already seeing Webb's comments as a sign that the political discussion on drugs may finally be moving past the era in which "tough on crime" was the only viable position. - Huffington Post, 7/2/15

I'd like it if this issue gained some more attention in the primary. Webb isn't my first choice as the nominee but I encourage his campaign to keep up the conversation about this.