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Vivek Ramaswamy breaks with GOP on decriminalization of hard drugs: ‘I’m in that direction’

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy says he supports the decriminalization and legalization of certain hard drugs as a way to fight the fentanyl crisis.

Republican presidential candidate Vivek Ramaswamy is breaking with his party when it comes to the drug epidemic gripping communities across the nation by supporting the decriminalization, and eventual legalization, of certain hard drugs.

While on the campaign trail in recent weeks, Ramaswamy frequently addressed the issue surrounding the war on drugs and the tragic prevalence of fentanyl deaths, and has offered what he’s called a “bold” willingness to cross boundaries to address the demand side of the drug market to prevent such tragedies.

“You don’t hear me talk about the war on drugs. I’m not a war on drugs person,” Ramaswamy said while appearing at a Free State Project event in New Hampshire in June.


At the event, Ramaswamy said he was “probably the only person in the modern history” of the Republican Party open to a conversation about providing “off ramps” for people to access certain hard drugs, such as “psychedelics, from ayahuasca to ketamine.”

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Although he specifically mentioned veterans and those dealing with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Ramaswamy suggested others could eventually have the same access to certain drugs, citing people who died as a result of ingesting fentanyl that he said could have survived if they had “an alternative path.”

“I’m eyes wide open and willing to be bold in crossing boundaries we haven’t yet crossed to address the demand side of this as well,” Ramaswamy said.

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“I think in the long run, and I’m talking about over a long run period of time, decriminalization, serially, is an important part of the long run solution here. … That’s gotta be part of the solution,” he later added.

Ramaswamy went on to stress the need to use the U.S. military to secure the border and combat the Mexican drug cartels enabling the importation of fentanyl, a policy point he has often touted.

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He repeated his stance toward drugs during an appearance on the Liberty Lockdown podcast in July, saying that rather than being “a war on drugs guy,” he was “actually a path to legalization guy for a lot of different drugs, and a path to reasonable decriminalization.” 

In the conversation, Ramaswamy noted his distinguishing of fentanyl from other illicit drugs, describing it as a poison people unknowingly take with their drug of intention.

“Many veterans are dying of fentanyl. I think fewer would be dying if there was access to ayahuasca, if there was access, legal access, to psychedelics more broadly. We can talk about, we can have a reasonable conversation about ketamine and others. So, I’m in that direction,” he said.

In an interview the following day, Ramaswamy also argued marijuana “should be decriminalized.”

“We got to catch up with the times. It’s not a popular position in the Republican Party, but I’d just, again, I guess I’m going to speak the truth. Whether you vote for me or not is your choice. I think the time has come to decriminalize it,” he said.

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Opponents of the legalization of hard drugs often point to Portugal as an example of when such policies have adverse affects that some would argue end up being worse than before.

Last month, The Washington Post published a story on “doubts” Portugal was now having after the nation decriminalized all drug use in 2001, citing rises in crime, the litter of drug paraphernalia, the spread of homeless encampments, year-long waits for those wishing to undergo drug rehab and overdose rates hitting a 12-year-high.

When reached for comment, Ramswamy’s campaign said, “The current state-level ‘legalization’ farce contributes to the culture of lawbreaking. It’s literally against the law. For us to pretend otherwise only undermines the rule of law in this country. For that reason, Vivek is in favor of federal legalization of marijuana.”

They did not specifically address his comments on hard drugs.

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