Newark Mayor Cory Booker Declares Drug War ‘A Failure,’ Endorses Medical Marijuana

Newark Mayor Cory Booker delivered a harsh critique of America’s war on drugs in a series of tweets last night. Booker described the war on drugs as a multi-billion dollar failure. Booker highlighted the disproportionate impact the drug war has on African-Americans and suggested the need to move away from incarceration as our policy response. Booker stopped short of endorsing full legalization of any drug. He did, however, call on New Jersey to legalize medical marijuana:

This isn’t the first time that Booker has had harsh words regarding the nation’s drug policy. In 2007, he told the Star-Leger that “The drug war is causing crime. It is just chewing up young black men. And it’s killing Newark.” In 2001, Booker told CNN, “you have incarceration rates in this country now that are outrageous…you aren’t really solving the problem by just throwing people in jail.” New Jersey spends over $1 billion per year on prisons and about one-third of the beds are filled with non-violent drug offenders.

Booker’s comments come at a time when Americans attitudes toward drugs, particularly marijuana, are rapidly changing. A poll released yesterday found that 56% of Americans favor legalization of marijuana, with just 36% in opposition.