Former Speaker Proposed Death Penalty for Bringing 2 Ozs. Of Marijuana Into U.S.

January 23, 2012, New York, NY -- Appearing on MSNBC Saturday, former New Mexico Governor and presidential candidate Gary Johnson reminded viewers that former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich sponsored legislation (text below) in 1996 that would have imposed the death penalty for Americans caught bringing as little as 2 ounces of marijuana into the country.

Video here:Gary Johnson Talks About Newt Gingrich Proposing Death Penalty for Carrying 2 Oz. of Marijuana

In a statement released today, Johnson elaborated, “Ideas are important, especially in a presidential campaign. But some of Speaker Gingrich’s ideas over the years are nothing short of scary. Under his legislation, anyone coming home to the U.S. and caught carrying enough marijuana (2 oz.) to distribute would be sentenced to life imprisonment with no parole – or if caught twice, would be sentenced to death.

“This from someone who has admitted his own past marijuana use, saying ‘it was a sign we were alive and in graduate school’. And in 1981, Mr. Gingrich actually introduced legislation providing for the ‘therapeutic use of marijuana. (HR 4498, 97th Congress)

“On drug policy alone, I am beginning to see what Rick Santorum means when he talks about the former Speaker having an idea a minute. We are talking about millions of Americans’ lives here, and having positions ranging from embracing medical marijuana to the death penalty for possessing a small amount of that same substance is astounding both in its hypocrisy and its inconsistency.

“The War on Drugs is a failure, and bold steps are in order to align drug policy with reality and humanity. But Newt Gingrich’s notion of bold is not what we need.”About Presidential Candidate Gary Johnson: Gary Johnson, two-term Governor of New Mexico from 1994-2002, has been a consistent and outspoken advocate for limited, efficient government and personal liberty.

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Text of Gingrich Legislation:

H.R. 4170 (Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996) to the House of Representatives sought to “provide a sentence of death for certain importations of significant quantities of controlled substances”.

Section 2: Increased Penalties For International Drug Trafficking

Section 1010 of the Controlled Substances Import and Export Act (21 U.S.C. 960) is amended by adding at the end the following:

(e)(1) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the court shall sentence a person convicted of a violation of subsection (a), consisting of bringing into the United States a mixture or substance-- (A) which is described in subsection (b)(1); and (B) in an amount the Attorney General by rule has determined is equal to 100 usual dosage amounts of such mixture or substance; to imprisonment for life without possibility of release. If the defendant has violated this subsection on more than one occasion and the requirements of chapter 228 of title 18, United States Code, are satisfied, the court shall sentence the defendant to death. (2) The maximum fine that otherwise may be imposed, but for this subsection, shall not be reduced by operation of this subsection.' September 25, 1996, 104th Congress (1995 - 1996), H.R.4170

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