Associated Press today.
HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) – Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said he would bring a new approach to drug crimes in response to a questioner who noted “if you were arrested when you were a teenager, then you never would be a candidate for the presidency.”
Obama didn’t comment on the reference to his teenage use of marijuana and cocaine, which he disclosed in his autobiography and which some of rival Hillary Rodham Clinton’s supporters have raised recently. Instead, he said the government is not handling the drug problem “in an intelligent way.”
“I’m not interested in legalizing drugs,” Obama said, adding that he prefers an approach that puts more emphasis on a public health approach to drugs and less emphasis on incarceration.
He said there should be more programs to keep young people from using drugs. And he said first-time offenders should be given help to overcome their drug use instead of being locked up at massive taxpayer expense from which they emerge as unemployable ex-convicts.
“All we do is give them a master’s degree in criminology,” Obama said.
It’s a start.