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Virginia GOP Senate candidate E.W. Jackson argues for drug-law reform
May 31, 2012 4:28 PM MST

U.S. Senate candidate E.W. Jackson told a group of Virginia Republican activists last weekend that he disagrees with current drug laws and that he is “committed to the idea that we should not be locking people up for the recreational use” of drugs like marijuana.

Jackson, a Harvard-educated lawyer and ordained minister, is one of four candidates in a GOP primary election on June 12. He was responding to a question posed by a member of the Republican Liberty Caucus in Arlington County on May 26 about what the appropriate role of government should be in regulating things like medical marijuana and other drugs.

Did he inhale?
In the course of his answer, Jackson admitted his own past use of illicit drugs and did not apologize for it.

E.W. Jackson Senate candidate drug law reform
“I don’t use drugs, obviously,” he said, “but I have.”

Jackson added that, “as a minister,” he tells his congregation that “it’s better not to do drugs. It’s better not to even use alcohol -- not that I think using alcohol is some sort of mortal sin, but it has a way of getting control of people’s lives sometimes, so you’re better off staying away from it.”

Continuing, Jackson referred to a recent rant by magician and Celebrity Apprentice contestant, Penn Jillette, about the inequities of the war on drugs.

“Let me say, I really am bothered by the idea that we are putting people in jail for getting high,” he explained.

‘Spoke to my heart’
“It’s interesting,” he added, that there’s “somebody who I probably don’t have a lot in common with, Penn Jillette, [who] really spoke to my heart and I had to take a step back when he said, ‘the president has confessed to using cocaine, he’s confessed to using marijuana. The only reason he is president is that he didn’t get caught. If he had been caught, his life would have been completely different.’”

Pausing dramatically, Jackson went on:

“Now folks, I can say the same thing. That’s what arrested me. I can say the same thing. I don’t think we should be locking people up and saddling people with felonies because they have used recreational drugs.”

The Senate candidate did express some skepticism about whether legalizing all currently illegal drugs would “eliminate the crime associated with” the drug trade.

Should not lock people up
He did, however, express openness to the idea of decriminalizing marijuana and other drugs by saying that he is “committed to this idea that we should not be locking people up for the recreational use of those drugs -- at the very least, of those drugs that we agree don’t put people in a position to do things that are going to destroy their lives and more importantly the lives of others.”

Jackson’s opponents in next month’s U.S. Senate primary are former Governor George Allen, Delegate Bob Marshall, and Tea Party activist Jamie Radtke.

A video recording of Jackson’s remarks to the Republican Liberty Caucus is available on YouTube.

Publisher's note: This article was originally published on on May 31, 2012. The publishing platform was discontinued July 1, 2016, and its web site went dark on or about July 10, 2016.  I am republishing this piece in an effort to preserve it and all my other contributions to since April 6, 2010. It is reposted here without most of the internal links that were in the original.

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