Paul, Fiorina Urge More Drug Treatment; Fiorina Flubs Prison Data Issue


Colorado played a primetime role in the Republican presidential debate last night thanks to a question about marijuana legalization, says the Denver Post. The question came as Colorado is preparing to host the next GOP debate Oct. 28 in Boulder. CNN debate moderator Jake Tapper asked Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul about former New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's pledge to enforce federal law in Colorado to stop recreational marijuana use. Paul, who became the first major presidential candidate to court the pot industry at a Denver fundraiser, put the emphasis on rehabilitation instead of incarceration. “I personally think this is a crime where the only victim is the individual,” Paul said of marijuana use. “And I think America has to take a different attitude.” He went on to invoke state's rights and say, “I don't think the federal government should override the states.”

Jeb Bush, the former Florida governor who acknowledged smoking pot in high school, said he believes weed legalization is a state issue, not one for the federal government. “What goes on in Colorado, as far as I'm concerned, that should be a state decision,” he said. Carly Fiorina, a former Hewlett-Packard CEO, said her daughter died from a drug addiction. “We must invest more in the treatment of drugs,” she said. “I agree with Sen. Paul, I agree with states rights but we are misleading people when we tell them that marijuana is just like having a beer — it's not.” Fiorina uttered one of the most persistent and dangerous myths about U.S. prisons, that most inmates are there for nonviolent offenses, Slate reports. “We do need criminal justice reform,” Fiorina said. “We have the highest incarceration rates in the world. Two-thirds of the people in our prisons are there for nonviolent offenses, mostly drug-related. It is clearly not working.” Though Fiorina was correct that the U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world, the rest of her statement was false. Only about 300,000 of the 1.5 million people doing time in state and federal prisons are there primarily because of drug offenses. About half the state prison population is made up of people classified as violent offenders.

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