Presidential candidate Ben Carson has said that he intends to intensify the war on drugs if elected.
Speaking with Glenn Beck, the Republican frontrunner said he opposes the legalization of marijuana.
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“Absolutely,” the retired neurosurgeon said when asked by Beck if he intends to continue the war on drugs. “I intend to fight.”
According to a Des Moines Register/Bloomberg Politics poll, Carson is now the Republican frontrunner. His favorability stands at 28%, 9 percentage points ahead of Donald Trump’s 19%.
In 2010 alone the federal government spent over $15 billion combatting the use and distribution of illegal drugs, while state and local governments spent $25 billion.
The same year police around the country made 1.5 million arrests for drug violations. Arrests for possession of marijuana accounted for 48.3 percent of these arrests, according to FBI statistics.
In 2012, FBI data shows, police made one marijuana arrest every 42 seconds.
Earlier this week a Gallup poll found 58% of American adults believe marijuana should be legalized. Last year the number was 51%.
Alaska, Colorado, Washington and Oregon and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana for recreational use while twenty-three states have legalized the use of medical marijuana.
Despite public support for marijuana legalization, as president Carson would work to keep drugs illegal. He would spend more federal money and dedicate more law enforcement resources to enforcing drug laws and imprisoning offenders.
“I don’t think this is something we really want for our society,” Carson told Greta Van Susteren of Fox News in 2014 after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana.
“You know, we’re gradually just removing all the barriers to hedonistic activity. We’re changing so rapidly to a different type of society, and nobody is getting a chance to discuss it because it’s taboo.”
After Van Susteren pointed out that many Americans believe making marijuana illegal restricts freedom of choice, Carson compared its use to owning an automatic weapon.
“Well, do those same people argue for freedom of choice when someone says, ‘I want to buy a gun, I want to buy an Uzi?’” Carson said. “Let’s be consistent with this thing.”