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Rush Limbaugh Ponders Legal Drug Market


March-April 1998

On March 12, in response to a caller who asked why the Clinton Administration was not fighting illegal drugs with the same effort being used to fight the tobacco industry, conservative talk show host Rush Limbaugh responded with some support of a legalized, regulated drug market (The Rush Limbaugh Radio Show, March 12, 1998).

Remarks of Rush Limbaugh on the March 12 show transcribed by the Media Awareness Project:

"[Drug] interdiction doesn't work and the effort to convince people not to do it really doesn't work. In fact, with young people it may even entice them more ...

Based on the reality of how we're going after cigarette smokers, the thing that we cannot do in the drug fight right now is regulate because it's illegal. Drugs are against the law and so the manufacturers are illegal. They're not even on shore; they're down there in Colombia and the Cali Cartel and they're working to poison the brains and minds of the future of America. And so what we do is to try to keep those drugs from getting in. And I agree with you that it's a half baked effort ...

It seems to me that what is missing in the drug fight is legalization. If we want to go after drugs with the same fervor and intensity with which we go after cigarettes, let's legalize drugs. Legalize the manufacture of drugs. License the Cali Cartel. Make them tax payers and then sue them. Sue them left and right and then get control of the price and generate tax revenue from it. Raise the price sky high and fund all sorts of other wonderful social programs.

Because it seems to me, flippant as though it may sound to you, that what gives us the power to do what we're doing, what gives the government the power to do what it is doing, state and federal, in cigarettes, is that it's a legal substance regulated by the federal government. And they don't have any such power and control over drugs because it's illegal. So let's legalize them and then go after them the same way ...

You have to understand that there's not a big morality play going on here with cigarettes. All there is in the minds of the citizens, they think it's all about morality and our kids, but it's about money. Look at the lawyers down in Florida. They had a contract 25% of whatever they could collect. Well that would mean that some lawyers are going to make $200 million. The purpose of all this was to help our kids and so forth. The lawyers just want money. Everybody wants their cut -- Clinton, Congress, the States all want their cut. It's all about money.

That's why I'm telling you. You may think my statement here flippant but you asked why aren't we going after drugs as fervently as we're going after cigarettes. I agree with [stopping] cocaine, marijuana, uh, well, cocaine, crack, LSD, heroin, all those you can [but] I don't know of anybody who overdosed on cigarettes. I do know that people have burned their houses down but I don't know anybody who said I'm going to smoke cigarettes until I die and then pulled it off inside of 12 hours. I do know people who've overdosed on drugs and know of them. You talk about death and the ruined lives -- heroin addiction is far more debilitating that tobacco addiction. Let's be honest about it. Tobacco addiction is a 30-year death. Heroin addiction is instant death and yet we're not going after this stuff with the same moral fervor that we are. Why? Because we're not going after cigarettes with a moral fervor either; we're going after cigarettes because of money.

Now if you want to go after drugs on the same basis you've got to make it a target for money and the only way that I can think of to do that is either [let] the government become the pimp and sell the stuff, make it prescription with the government as the pharmacist; or you legalize drugs, let them come into the country, get a whole bunch of generations of people using these things and then decide some years later that 'This is terrible. We must stop this. This is horrible. Those drug manufacturers have lied to us about the safety of the product. They said they we're going to control the amounts and they haven't. We're suing them.' And then go and get some money from the Cali drug cartel legally."