Newt Gingrich Stirs the Pot

By Dirk Hanson and Ariel Nagi 05/11/11

GOP candidate's muddled record on drugs.

News that former House speaker “Newt” Gingrich has decided to make a run for the presidency got us curious about his views on drugs. We discovered that his record on the subject is decidedly murky. While the portly politician has admitted to a long-ago penchant for pot, he has also supported much tougher jail sentences for illegal drug trafficking, possible death penalties for drug traffickers, and mandatory rehab time for anyone caught with illegal drugs in their system. “I think we need a program. I would dramatically expand testing… I would try to use rehabilitation, I'd make it mandatory. And I think we have every right as a country to demand of our citizens that they quit doing illegal things which are funding, both in Afghanistan and in Mexico and in Colombia, people who are destroying civilization,” he told Fox News’s Bill O’Riley in a March 2009 interview.

The Grinch also suggested mass executions to end the war on drugs in countries like Mexico and Colombia. “The first time we execute 27 or 30 or 35 people at one time, and they go around Colombia and France and Thailand and Mexico, and they say, ‘Hi, would you like to carry some drugs into the U.S.?’ the price of carrying drugs will have gone up dramatically,” he said.
Gingrich—who  admitted to smoking marijuana while he was in college in the 60s, according to—currently opposes medical marijuana, arguing that keeping it illegal is better for the country. “There is no medical marijuana—marijuana is a drug,” he said in an interview (see video above). He also spoke out against needle exchange programs when Bill Clinton was in office, insisting that these types of life-saving programs were a sign of  “misplaced priorities.”

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