Seen as the ultimate underdog in the early run-ups to the primaries, Donald Trump has emerged from the Republican primaries as the decisive victor. Many believe Trump has tapped into a large group of voters who are extremely dissatisfied with the direction America is heading, and his policies reflect this dissatisfaction by aiming to “make America great again”. In defiance of many of his peers in the republican primaries, Trump’s view of drug use is relatively progressive, while still maintaining a hesitance to embrace the legalization of drugs across the board. Over the years, Trump has made clear his position on drugs in his own words. Here are five quotes by Donald Trump illuminating his perspective on drug use and culture in America today.
“In terms of marijuana and legalization, I think that should be a state issue, state-by-state. Marijuana is such a big thing. I think medical should. And then I really believe we should leave it up to the states. And of course you have Colorado. There’s a question as to how it’s all working out there, you know? That’s not going exactly trouble-free.”
Donald Trump has been vocal on drugs and drug policy in the United States, and there is no bigger issue under the umbrella of drug policy than marijuana. Here, Trump somewhat supports marijuana legalization, but makes it clear that it should be regulated carefully on a state-by-state basis. Medical marijuana is another thing Trump has advocated for in the past as well.
“…in some ways, I think it’s good and in other ways, it’s bad…I know people that have serious problems… and it really, really does help them.”
Trump has made tentative endorsements of medical marijuana, and cites the experiences of those close to him as evidence that there is value in the drug’s medicinal application. Much of Trump’s drug policies and attitudes are shaped by the experiences around him, and none are more influential than that of his brother.
“I’ve never taken drugs of any kind, never had a glass of alcohol. Never had a cigarette, never had a cup of coffee.”
His stance may sound absolute and possibly a little harsh, but Trump’s position on substance use of any kind is rooted in personal tragedy. Donald Trump’s brother, Frederick Trump, died at the young age of 43 due to complications that arose from long-term alcoholism. The loss of his brother and best friend to substance abuse helps shed light on both Donald Trump as a person, and on his positions relating to drug and alcohol abuse. This even helped shape his opinions, and explains why Trump’s views on substance abuse may be harsher than other candidates currently in the running.
“We’re losing badly the war on drugs…You have to legalize drugs to win that war. You have to take profit away from these drug czars.”
The 1990s were part of a period known as the war on drugs, where legislation and punishment for the sale or use of drugs were extremely severe. During this period, Trump believed that legalization was key to winning the war on drugs, calling current efforts “a joke”. However, he has since altered his position on the legalization of drugs.
“I said it’s something that should be studied and maybe should continue to be studied. But it’s not something I’d be willing to do right now. I think it’s something that I’ve always said maybe it has to be looked at because we do such a poor job of policing. We don’t want to build walls. We don’t want to do anything. And if you’re not going to want to do the policing, you’re going to have to start thinking about other alternatives. But it’s not something that I would want to do.”
Now that the war on drugs has become less of a priority in U.S. Policy when compared to the 80s and 90s, Trump’s opinions on American efforts to combat drug use have shifted. Trump now feels strongly that legalization is far from the best option due to a lack of regulation and policing.
Trump’s stances, while somewhat shifted over the years, are straight forward. Legalization is something he believes may work on a state-by-state level, but still needs to be studied. Medical marijuana may be a part of his drug policy, but he has yet to make a strong commitment for or against the drug outside of referencing the relief it offered some close to him. The death of his brother to substance abuse makes clear why Trump’s positions are so strong, and why they are unlikely to change if the election falls in his favor this November.
ABC This Week 2015 interview by Martha Raddatz, Nov 8, 2015
Mother Jones 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls, Oct 28, 2015
Trump, Donald. The America We Deserve. p. 24-25. Jul 2, 2000
Pot Matters: Trump on Marijuana, Feb 12, 2016
For Donald Trump, Lessons from a Brother’s Suffering, Jan 2, 2016