At Tuesday night’s Republican presidential debate, Ron Paul stuck to his position of opposing marijuana criminalization and the “War on Drugs” campaign.

Federal Laws Hinder the Use of Medical Marijuana

“You can at least let sick people use medical marijuana because it’s helpful,” said Paul.  

Paul said the intrusion of federal laws, overriding state laws, is preventing the administering of medical marijuana to people who would benefit from it.

Marijuana’s medicinal value is well-documented.  It has been shown to reduce pain in HIV patients and in people suffering from spinal cord injury.  Its appetite-enhancing effect can help with anorexia.  It also treats nausea, vomiting, irritable bowel syndrome, and migraines.  

Alcohol and Prescription Drugs are Deadlier

Between 2001 and 2005, alcohol was responsible for approximately 79,000 deaths annually.  Excessive consumption of it was the third leading lifestyle-related cause of death in the U.S.

Moreover, alcohol consumption is linked to many cases of sexual assault and domestic violence.

Prescription drug overdose, meanwhile, kills about 20,000 people in the U.S. each year.   Contrastingly, there are little or no known cases of death from marijuana abuse.  

Ironically, alcohol and prescription drugs are not criminalized and less regulated than marijuana.

“War on Drugs” is Extremely Costly

Paul said the multi-decade “War on Drugs” effort by the U.S. government has cost more than $1 trillion in the last four decades.

Moreover, drug conviction (and total incarceration, as a result) has surged during this period.  Currently, over 50 percent of the prison population is incarcerated for drug related crimes.  The societal cost of the “War on Drugs,” therefore, goes beyond the $1 trillion figure.

Outside the U.S., the “War on Drugs,” which drives up the cost of illicit drugs like marijuana (that could otherwise be grown cheaply), is largely responsible for the funding of criminal gangs in Latin America.  The surge of drug-related crimes has even plunged Mexico into a mini-Civil War.  

“War on Drugs” Has Not Worked

If the goal of “War on Drugs” is to reduce the abuse of marijuana and other illegal drugs, it has simply not worked.

A 2011 U.N. report declared that the global “War on Drugs” policy has failed.  A telling statistic the report cited is that globally from 1998 to 2009, opiate use increased 34.5 percent, cocaine use increased 27 percent, and cannabis use increased 8.5 percent.

Gil Kerlikowske, U.S. Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, also admitted that the U.S. War on Drugs campaign has been a failure.

“Forty years later, the concern about drugs and drug problems is, if anything, magnified, intensified,” he said in 2010.

“Believe me, the kids can still get the drugs.  It just hasn’t worked,” said Paul at Tuesday’s GOP debate.