Kerry and Edwards Differ on Death Penalty

In the debate Thursday night, presidential candidates John Kerry and John Edwards expressed differing views on the death penalty:

Confronted with a question about a child killer, Kerry said his instinct ``is to want to strangle that person with my own hands.'' But the Massachusetts senator, a former prosecutor, quickly added that he favors the death penalty only for cases of terrorism.

Edwards, a Southern-bred politician, differed, saying there are other crimes that ``deserve the ultimate punishment.'' He cited as an example the killers of James Byrd, a black man who was dragged to death from a pickup truck in 1998 in Texas.

There's more, as we reported here:

John Kerry supports a moratorium on the death penalty at the federal level due to the number of persons on death row who have been found to be factually innocent of their crimes. John Edwards does not.

On a related note, the candidates also differ on medical marijuana. The Marijuana Policy Project gives an "F" grade to John Edwards in its Voter's Guide:

Edwards has publicly stated that he thinks it would be "irresponsible" to end the Justice Department's policy of arresting patients and caregivers who defy federal law. Edwards gets an "F" grade for refusing to pledge an end to these cruel and heartless raids on medical marijuana patients who are complying with state law.... Edwards has not taken any action to protect medical marijuana patients. He has neither cosponsored nor voted on legislation specifically addressing medical marijuana.

John Kerry gets an A-:

Kerry would stop the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) raids on seriously ill medical marijuana patients as president. Kerry has previously said he favors federal legislation to allow people with cancer, AIDS, and other serious illnesses to have medical marijuana, with their doctors' approval....Kerry recently co-authored a letter asking the Drug Enforcement Administration to approve a proposal from the University of Massachusetts Amherst to manufacture marijuana for FDA-approved medical marijuana research. In the October 20 letter to DEA Administrator Karen Tandy, Kerry criticized the National Institute on Drug Abuse's "unjustified monopoly on the production of marijuana for legitimate medical research." Kerry has neither cosponsored nor voted on legislation directly addressing medical marijuana.*

On July 2, responding to a question from Linda Macia, Kerry said, "I'm in favor of" medical marijuana. Kerry added that he wanted "a full analysis of it" and continued, saying, "I've been in favor of its prescription, its prescription for people. We even passed a bill in Massachusetts to allow that to happen."

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