Appearing Tuesday on The Hill’s Rising, Democrat presidential candidate Andrew Yang said he would establish safe opioid injection sites across the United States in an effort to prevent drug users from overdosing.
A partial transcript is as follows:
KRYSTAL BALL: We’d spoken before about your approach to the drug war and what you would do if you were president. Can you just lay that out for folks?
ANDREW YANG: First, I would legalize marijuana at a federal level. We have thousands of Americans who are in jail for non-violent pot-related offenses for behaviors that are legal in several states, at this point. I would legalize marijuana and pardon everyone who is in a federal prison for a non-violent pot-related crime. But then I would go further and decriminalize opiates for personal use. I know that’s a very big step, but if you look at the genesis behind the opioid crisis around the country — and I’m heading to New Hampshire, one of the states that have been hit the hardest — eight Americans are dying of drug overdoses every hour and the federal government was negligible in allowing this opioid crisis to spread. Perdue Pharma made tens of billions of dollars from Oxycontin, which was marketed as a non-addictive wonder drug, but of course, it was incredibly addictive. Now you have thousands of Americans whose lives are being destroyed by an epidemic that, essentially, the government turned a blind eye toward.
BALL: Talk a little more about that. If someone is caught using heroin, what happens to them?
YANG: Their heroin gets taken away from them. Then if they are dealing heroin, selling a large supply, they go to jail for criminal penalties. But if they are just using, they get referred to treatment counseling centers and are given a chance to kick the habit to try and get well. I would not only decriminalize opioids for personal use, but I would also invest in safe consumption sites around the country. I was talking to a paramedic in New Hampshire who talked about if you saved an addict one week, you’d be back saving that same addict the following week because after you’re caught with a drug, there’s no place for you to go.