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Did Trump Just Argue For Drug Legalization (Again)?

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President Trump, in a meeting about gun policy, seemed to voice arguments that are commonly used by people advocating for drug legalization.

“The problem is you have a real black market. They don’t worry about anything. They don’t worry about anything that you’re saying. They sell a gun and the buyer doesn’t care and the seller — that’s one of the problems we are all going to have,” he said on Wednesday, surrounded by members of Congress from both parties.

“And you have that problem with drugs. You make the drugs illegal and they come, you’ve never had a problem like that. We’re fighting it hard, but you’ve never had a problem like this,” he continued. “So you have the same problem with guns.”

Activists campaigning against drug prohibition often argue that making drugs illegal prevents very few people from consuming them, and that they purchase their desired substances in an unregulated criminal market where cartels and gangs make the rules.

By explicitly invoking drugs in the debate about gun policy — in which some Democrats and others are pushing to ban certain categories of weapons — the president appears to be saying that prohibition just doesn’t work, whether it comes to drugs or firearms.

Or maybe he’s just confused. Here’s the video:

Trump explicitly argued for drug legalization in 1990.

“We’re losing badly the war on drugs. You have to legalize drugs to win that war,” he said at the time. “You have to take the profit away from these drug czars… What I’d like to do maybe by bringing it up is cause enough controversy that you get into a dialogue on the issue of drugs so people will start to realize that this is the only answer; there is no other answer.”

But more recently, he has floated harsh penalties including, according to reports, executing drug sellers.

Trump Wants Death Penalty For Drug Dealers, Report Says

Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.

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Tom Angell is the editor of Marijuana Moment. A 20-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he founded the nonprofit Marijuana Majority. Previously he reported for Marijuana.com and MassRoots, and handled media relations and campaigns for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy.

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