John McCain's Record on Drugs

Now that Cindy McCain's prescription drug abuse is back in the news, let's take a look at Sen. John McCain's drug warrior record:

John McCain is a hawk in the war on drugs. One standard for his wife, another for everyone else.

His voting record on drugs, after his wife's problems: [More....]

  • 1999, he voted to restrict methadone treatment programs
  • 2000, the Boston Globe writes:
    Of the four major candidates, McCain has expressed the most hawkish positions on drug policy. He wants to increas penalties for selling drugs, supports the death penalty for drug kingpins, favors tightening security to stop the flow of drugs into the country, and wants to restrict availability of methadone for heroin addicts. He said the Clinton administration was AWOL on the war on drugs and he would push for more money and military assistance to drug-supplying nations such as Colombia.
  • 2007: McCain opposes medical marijuana

As I wrote back in March,

But Cindy McCain wasn't just addicted to pain pills. She was investigated federally for stealing pain pills from a medical charity she headed and for having prescriptions filled in the names of the charity's employees. She admitted it. One of the doctors who wrote the prescriptions for her lost his license.

Mrs. McCain, through her lawyers, was able to get federal prosecutors to let her enter a diversion program and avoid jail.

Diversion is common in state courts for first-time offenders. It isn't in federal courts.

< Overnight Open Thread: All Summer Long | "The Issue Is John McCain" >
  • The Online Magazine with Liberal coverage of crime-related political and injustice news

  • Contribute To TalkLeft

  • Display: Sort:
    They should all be thrown in jail. (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Grace on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 03:16:43 AM EST
    I know Obama admits to doing drugs, but he did it recreationally and it had nothing to do with his job.  I believe all recreational usage should be legal, even if the drugs are illegal.  

    It's outrageous that Cindy thinks she can abuse legal drugs and get away with it!    

    Why is recreational drug use (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by Prabhata on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 03:37:11 AM EST
    acceptable, but abuse of prescription medication is unacceptable? Cindy is not seeking any political office, why is her pain pill abuse somehow worse than Obama's? Though I understand that she broke the law, and apparently received a slap on the wrist because she's rich, what would have been gained by Cindy serving time?  Or any drug user for that matter.

    Recreation drug use? (3.00 / 1) (#17)
    by stefystef on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 06:24:53 AM EST
    I'm always amused by that because it tries to make drug use "okay", if you are using it with friends.

    When you've seen the devastation of "recreation drug use" when people murder their family for money, abuse their children destroy their communities and lose their minds, then you won't think it so "casual".


    I've been recreationally using drugs... (5.00 / 1) (#26)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 10:10:05 AM EST
    half my life now...alone and with friends.

    Haven't murdered anybody, haven't abused anybody...and haven't totally lost my mind, in fact drugs have helped me find parts of my mind I never knew existed, and I feel I'm better for it.

    You are making the common mistake of confusing drug use with drug abuse...not all use is abuse.  Just as not all drinking is alcoholism.


    Be very amused (none / 0) (#18)
    by dead dancer on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 06:34:00 AM EST
    Sounds like you are talking about much more than "recreational" use.

    Burning one with a friend should not land anyone in jail.


    her old man is draconian about drugs... (none / 0) (#5)
    by Salo on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 03:38:43 AM EST
    Huh? So Cindy should pay (5.00 / 1) (#9)
    by Prabhata on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 03:54:40 AM EST
    because McCain is draconian about drugs? I don't get it.  I think if McCain every got in trouble for using drugs, he should pay the price of the laws he has instituted, but I don't see why Cindy should be penalized for something the husband does.

    Damn right Cindy... (none / 0) (#25)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 10:06:48 AM EST
    should be treated the same as you or I if we break the drug laws the tyrant McCain and his congressional cronies have passed.  

    Now if your advocating that only the misguided politicians who pass tyrannical drug laws should be held to said laws...I'm down with that:)


    Most people are hard on drugs (5.00 / 0) (#16)
    by stefystef on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 06:21:49 AM EST
    especially if you've had family who have ruined their lives and families.  A politician tough on drugs gets lots of votes, especially in suburbia and rural communities.  Drugs is blamed for many of the woes in the country, whether fair or unfair.

    Drugs is a tough and touchy subject.  McCain's policy on drugs will not lose him votes with the Republican base or Independents


    It's a bit tongue in cheek jah? (5.00 / 1) (#4)
    by Salo on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 03:37:58 AM EST
    McCain protective of his wife? (5.00 / 0) (#15)
    by Chisoxy on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 06:18:43 AM EST

    Special treatment (5.00 / 1) (#30)
    by MKS on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 10:23:50 AM EST
    That is the issue.  Everyone else goes to jail except precious Cindy.

    Drugs should be legal (5.00 / 0) (#6)
    by Prabhata on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 03:50:31 AM EST
    The most abused drug, alcohol is legal, and when it was illegal, it gave birth to the worst crime wave in the US.  The only people that benefit from the criminalization of drugs are cops, the prison industry, lawyers, criminals and politicians.

    What is Obama's record on drugs? (5.00 / 0) (#19)
    by JAB on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 07:41:55 AM EST
    What are his positions, and what has he done legislatively, or in his community organizing days?

    Voters need information to vote FOR Obama, instead of AGAINST McCain.

    I've done many posts on it (none / 0) (#24)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 09:25:39 AM EST
    search the archives

    Difference (5.00 / 1) (#20)
    by Jgarza on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 08:23:53 AM EST
    If you guys can't tell the difference between having experimented with drugs as a teenager and having been addicted to drugs as an adult,  getting caught stealing them(which joe shmoe, included young Obama would have been sent to jail for) and then having your husband pulls strings to get you out of trouble.  I think you don't want to know the difference

    And she has already talked about this (5.00 / 0) (#22)
    by Matt in Chicago on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 08:27:08 AM EST
    how is this past (and known problem) relevant now?  Does Obama want to talk about his drug use?  Does he want to open up and start talking about past associations?

    It is ABOUT TIME that this old (5.00 / 1) (#21)
    by Matt in Chicago on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 08:24:57 AM EST
    story get brought up again!  I have always felt that Cindy McCain's problem with prescription drugs was an untapped line of attack for the Democrats!

    Let's see:

    1. If you support the Democrats and make a fool of yourself you just have to pretend you're sorry and go to rehab.  If you are a Republican, you're in trouble.

    2. If you do a little coke in the past, that makes you "cool"

    3. The drug culture has ALWAYS been more associated with the Republican party... so I am SURE this will be effective.

    These smears have got to stop... they just make Obama look desperate and confirm the public's' perception (rightly it seems) that the media is in the tank for Obama.

    Rx vs illegal (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by Kevin Hayden on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 08:51:02 AM EST
    I'm afraid the general public is way more tolerant of prescription addiction than illegal drug addiction. And for me, Cindy's past is not the issue.

    It's Mcsame's hypocrisy, his coverup, his bending the rules to enable her crimes.

    We need a handy side-by-side list of supposed reforms he touts and of all the times he's been caught playing dirty.

    Whatever (5.00 / 1) (#27)
    by nell on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 10:13:43 AM EST
    I hate it when people bring up Cindy McCain's drug use. She had a medical problem - that is what addiction is. She got treated for it, and thankfully, she is able to be a positive and contributing member of society. I am never going to hold it against her, or against anyone else, that she got the treatment that she needed and deserves - that all people need and deserve.

    Do I think McCain's policies on drugs are too draconian? Yes, and I would hope that he would place greater emphasis on treatment. But I would say Democrats have not overall been much more progressive on this issue. What we need is to divert people from jail and into treatment programs. Cindy McCain went to treatment and got better. Good for her. Not everyone gets that chance, sadly, but I am never going to hold it against her that she got better. In fact, I admire her for overcoming an incredibly difficult challenge.

    But I think it is despicable for people to make an example of her to try and highlight McCain's policy, just as it was despicable when people tried to make Bristol Palin an example for sex education. These are human beings and they should be left out of the policy debate, we have all had challenges and done things we are not proud of, despite our better instincts.

    Besides, if the left wants to go after Cindy McCain for dealing with and triumphing over a problem that many Americans suffer from, can we then talk about Obama's drug use? It's racist when it comes to talking about Obama's drug use but totally fair game when it comes to Cindy?

    McCain and the boys.... (none / 0) (#29)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 10:23:09 AM EST
    don't share your respect for human beings and their struggles, unfortunately.  They are the ones advocating for the chain and cage treatment.

    Running McCain over the coals for his wife's issues, and Obama for his past is our only shot to get these clowns to see the light...they don't give a sh*t about Joe Blow's liberty or battles with addiction.  We have to make it hit home.


    It is a shame (none / 0) (#7)
    by themomcat on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 03:53:26 AM EST
    that New York State legislature get its act together and reform the draconian drug laws of the Rockefeller administration.

    That should read (5.00 / 1) (#8)
    by themomcat on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 03:54:21 AM EST
    "can't get its act together"

    It won't happen (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by Prabhata on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 03:55:50 AM EST
    Too many people benefit from the criminalization of drugs.

    Except the tax payers (5.00 / 1) (#12)
    by themomcat on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 04:02:45 AM EST
    who have to foot the bill for all the people who should have been n rehab but are taking up prison space. Not to mention all the children who have ended up in foster care at state expense.

    You wouldn't like (none / 0) (#14)
    by Fabian on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 05:04:29 AM EST
    what would happen if drugs were "legalized" because the government would probably use the same system as they do for alcohol now.

    In other words, "legal" drugs would mean the government would control drug production, importation and distribution.  And they'd still lock people up who broke laws concerning those things.

    That's why I think people push for "decriminalization".  It sounds benign and it keeps the government out.  I also find it unlikely.  The government loves to regulate and tax things.  The minute cannabis is no longer illegal, it will be regulated and taxed.  There is no middle ground.


    Ew! (none / 0) (#13)
    by Fabian on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 04:40:52 AM EST
    Since when did getting married mean becoming two parts of one organism?

    Ew! I say again.

    It's a Liberty issue.... (none / 0) (#28)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 10:17:04 AM EST
    The state has no right to tell me, you, or Cindy McCain what we can and can't put in our bodies...the right to chug whiskey, smoke weed, snort coke, shoot smack, pop pills, drop acid, or drink Drain-O is an unalienable right.  This is basic respect for the sovereignty of the individual.

    That's my story and I'm sticking to it....

    Prescription (none / 0) (#31)
    by sas on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 01:10:34 PM EST
    drugs are not the subject of the war on drugs....(maybe they should be?)

    For most people....you will get nowhere on this.

    They are fast becoming so.... (none / 0) (#32)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 01:20:20 PM EST
    the latest batch of "Partnership for a Drug Free America" (aka alcohol industry) propaganda commercials is all about prescription drugs.  Ever see the one about the street dealer complaining that business is down because kids are getting high out of the medicine cabinet at home?  I highly recommend, an unintentional comedy classic, like most of the Partnership's propaganda.

    Not to mention people are rotting in cages over some pills as we type.


    I have to say (none / 0) (#35)
    by CST on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 01:36:34 PM EST
    The anti-drug commercials were a lot better in my day.

    This is your brain, queue egg...

    This is your brain on drugs, smash everything in the kitchen...

    man, I was TERRIFIED of drugs as a kid b/c of those ads.  Especially heroin.  Very effective.

    All of the anti-pot ads today seem out of place, and most of them describe the effects of alchohol not pot.  I do like the one of a kid sitting in the basement, not doing anything at all.  That one was spot-on - if you smoke you may become a lazy pot-head...


    Really CST?.... (none / 0) (#37)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 01:45:38 PM EST
    I thought the ads were always lame, even as an impressionable child.

    The "brain on drugs" ad just made me crave bacon and eggs.  They never scared me.

    Now the DARE officer who came to my elementary school, his lies did scare the crap outta me.  I thought my brother was gonna die because he had rolling papers on his dresser.  Never forgive those bastards for that...


    Well (none / 0) (#38)
    by CST on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 02:08:02 PM EST
    You were probably older and wiser when you saw those ads.

    DARE was so boring, and so lame, it wasn't cool to agree with DARE so they made less of an impression...

    The girl in the "brain on drugs" ad looked like someone you might think was "cool" except she totally lost it.

    And yes, I really thought if I did drugs it would be like smashing my brain with a frying pan...

    I also think they did a better job of differentiating btwn drugs.  Lots of "no heroin" ads, which for the most part, I think is probably a good thing.


    I hear ya.... (none / 0) (#41)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 02:24:54 PM EST
    I must have had a very gung-ho DARE cop, I think it was 5th grade...and he said smoking a joint could kill you and he had some papers in his little evidence briefcase.  Then I see papers on my bro's dresser...very scary and nerve-racking couple of days.

    I'm all for encouraging kids to stay away from drugs until they are old enough to make an informed decision for themselves...but I can't stomach the lies and purposeful misinformation.  That doesn't serve the kids...and neither do chains and cages.


    My fear of needles... (none / 0) (#40)
    by MileHi Hawkeye on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 02:21:52 PM EST
    ...kept me away from heroin and anything else that required shooting up.  Even after they got me hooked on morphene more than once in the hospital.  

    I know literally hundreds of pot smokers and perhaps one or two are/were "lazy pot-heads".  That's a stereotype that just doesn't ring true--and the kids can see right through that crap.  


    I'll tell ya what kept me away from H... (5.00 / 1) (#42)
    by kdog on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 02:27:16 PM EST
    the gut feeling I would really really like it and being aware of the addictive qualities, and the stories from my old-man about how half of his friends were dead because of the stuff.

    Context (none / 0) (#43)
    by CST on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 02:47:06 PM EST
    The "lazy-pot-head" ads came right after the
    "you will get pregnant, kill people, and support terrorism" ads.

    Sitting in your basement doing nothing sounds a lot more believable than the others


    sure it is (none / 0) (#33)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 01:28:43 PM EST
    The DEA repeatedly has been warning that presciption drug abuse is skyrocketing. It's going after doctors. It's monitoring your prescriptions.

    It's no longer between you and your doctor, it's also what the DEA thinks is reasonable for your doctor(s) to prescribe.


    So nice of law enforcement (none / 0) (#34)
    by kredwyn on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 01:35:12 PM EST
    to try and determine what level of meds they think are appropriate.

    Do they have medical guidelines as part of their criteria?


    yes & no (none / 0) (#39)
    by Xclusionary Rule 4ever on Fri Sep 12, 2008 at 02:09:09 PM EST
    I get warrants (as a magistrate) for hydrocodone and xanex almost as much as crack and meth in my county.  Cops love writing this ticket called "Rx drugs not in original container." They are out there creating crime so they can arrest people they dislike (blacks, hispanics and kids) using overbroad drug laws passed as part of the "war."

    I agree that the war is ostensibly aimed at traditionally illegal drugs, but the gestapo is just as happy to bust kids for zany bars and hillbilly heroin.


    It's all connected.  Profiling blacks, latinos, marijuana users, and young people.  Is it coincidence that the people targeted by police and lawmakers are more likely to vote democratic?  As a judge I review police arrest warrants and I'm getting tired of traffic stops for window tint violations, seat belt violations, and obscured license plate violations.  I'm sick of my fellow judges setting bonds super high or denying bond outright based solely on the defendant's hispanic last name.  When a local church displayed graphic and disgusting anti-abortion billboards where children, including my boy-scout son, could see them, I was told by my boss to be ready for arrests based on obscenity and impeding traffic flow.  Nobody was arrested and I was the only judge on duty. When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in a flag and holding a bible for sure.  We need progressive leadership so bad right now and I'm afraid that Obama's race is holding him back when he so totally deserves the job.
    The "war" on drugs should be declared a draw and abandoned.  It is in truth a war on socialism and a war on privacy.  It is in truth a means to support the military-industrial complex, sell murder weapons, and smack down nascent populist regimes in South America.  It is disgusting and wrong.
     - One mo time for the record: police target minorities and immigrants who are unwanted in the white suburbs - they end up on probation because of Scalia and Whren and drug laws - the police go back out and actively seek minorities and young people because "they're the ones that keep getting arrested." - arrest statistics start to back up the profiling measures - and the cycle goes on until the politically disfavored are all on probation, thus achieving illegitimately what could not be done in the open - a defacto gulag full of non-white, non-evangelical christian, non-Mayflower, unclean potential populists stripped of voting rights.