Third Party & Independents Archives

Exclusive Interview with Green Party Gubernatorial Candidate in Connecticut Cliff Thornton: Part Three

The following is the third part in a interview with Green Party Gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton. Issues discussed include the drug war and the gutless wonders that are the Democrats.

Rhodes: Regarding cannabis many in the reform community are currently advocating decriminalization over legalization. Yet decriminalization still leaves cannabis in the black market, while legalization would create a system where the black market would be eliminated. Moreover legalization would offer the opportunity to impose an excise tax, which if was instituted at fifty cents per joint has been estimated to raise over 6 billion dollars a year. Which do you advocate decriminalization or legalization?

Thornton: I advocate legalization, the outright legalization of cannabis and hemp. And see I have always believed and I still believe that they are focusing the attention on cannabis and quite frankly the real prize is hemp. Hemp over a period of time with research could possibly revolutionize three industries, the garment industry, the energy industry, and the paper industry.

What we are talking about here is also that at this particular point it would serve as a great catalyst for ethanol. Ethanol right now mostly comes from corn, corn which requires fertilizer where as hemp wouldn’t. And hemp is self rejuvenating, plus it would yield over six hundred times more than corn.

But see many of the companies in these industries that produce chemicals to produce corn and things like cotton, they stand to lose billions of dollars in revenue. So thus the emphasis is placed on cannabis and not hemp. These are the things that the public doesn’t know again we have this mushroom theory, they are kept in the dark and you know what they are fed.

What we have been trying to do over the years is enlighten people, but as you have seen on your blog there are many people out there who refuse to even check out this thing thoroughly so I think that until we get more people like people in the Green Party (http://www.gp.org) and NORML (http://www.norml.org) and Drug Policy Alliance (http://drugpolicy.org) and SSDP (http://www.ssdp.org) involved in this we are going to continue down this road. Also hemp is very good for the environment.

Rhodes: Statistics from the Criminal Justice Policy Foundation, http://www.cjpf.org/, indicate that a majority of the people who smoke crack cocaine are actually white. However in the media crack is pretty much portrayed as the black drug. What are your thoughts on the drastic differences in sentencing for those convicted of crack cocaine offenses versus those convicted of powder cocaine offenses, specifically when considering racial aspects, and that blacks are disproportionately arrested for crack cocaine offenses?

Thornton: Well let me start my response off this way, and this is for everybody, if one does not understand racism, classism, white privilege, terrorism, and the war on drugs, and what these terms mean and how these concepts work, than everything else you do understand will only confuse you.

Now we can talk about crack cocaine and we can talk about how they created this campaign of bringing in crack and how they didn’t say this, but instead alluded to it many times during the Cold War using code words like inner city ghetto neighborhoods and that it was basically a black problem. However we know that most of the people that smoke crack are actually white.

Now when you look at this versus methamphetamines you see that throughout the far west, Midwest, and in the south methamphetamines is overwhelming a white drug. There has been no mandatory minimum sentences put forth for methamphetamines, now I am not for that don’t get me wrong now, I am just trying to explain how race and class and white privilege work in this country. Than you can understand why we are the way we are.

As I said earlier the problem is created and generally it is blamed on black and brown people and poor whites in this country. But its not this case with meth and a mandatory minimum, there have been some people trying to put these bills forth but it has been defeated every time. So that I think explains why we are where we are when considering crack cocaine versus powder cocaine. When you look at the methamphetamine situation, so when you look at that and you understand the statement that I made earlier, than you understand why we are where we are.

Rhodes: While personally I do not advocate the legalization of needle drugs, such as heroin, I see the necessity for creating free clean needle programs. These free clean hypodermic needle programs would create the possibility for seriously lowering HIV, among other diseases, among needle drug users. What are your thoughts on free clean needle programs, and if elected would you advocate such programs for the state of Connecticut?

Thornton: I would definitely advocate for free clean needle programs, and along with it like I stated before I would definitely try to implement heroin maintenance, cocaine maintenance, and methamphetamine maintenance. See once you institute that than there really is no need for clean needle programs because they would come under the supervision of the medical personnel. We would put this problem right where it should be and that is in the health arena, it is not a law enforcement problem. Definitely I would advocate for free needle exchange, but as the way I would like to see it done it would be taken care of with heroin, cocaine, and methamphetamine maintenance.

Rhodes: Okay, on that could you define what you mean by maintenance, because I as well as many other people I don’t think will be to sure about the exact definition?

Thornton: Okay when you look at what is happening in Switzerland and what is happening in Canada what they have is heroin and cocaine maintenance programs. They bring in hardcore addicts and they stabilize their dosage.

What these programs have done is that once the addict is stabilized and under medical supervision, what they have found especially in the results documented in Switzerland that about nine years ago they brought in three thousand hardcore heroin addicts and the law enforcement in that area was against it, what they found was within a three month period with a forty mile radius eighty percent of the crime associated with heroin was gone. First of all the drug dealers couldn’t make any money because most of the heroin addicts were in the clinics.

Within a three to five month period they found that the individual was able to reintegrate with their families, able to get employment or go back to school and they were functioning just like you and I. Instead of shooting up three or four times a day in this short period of time they were down to shooting up one time a day and things were much better.

This ended up where eighty percent of the people stayed with the program. So these are the things that I want to introduce. Understand to that cannabis is the key to all of these problems, because cannabis is going to produce or hemp that is will produce the necessary tax base to fund these programs for treatment, and also help further fund public education.

Rhodes: So essentially what you are talking about is similar to methadone clinics right?

Thornton: Well not really. Methadone clinics and methadone is a synthesized drug. When you talk to heroin addicts, most of them probably ninety five percent of them would say they would rather be on heroin maintenance as opposed to methadone maintenance.

Methadone, and I am not against methadone maintenance if that is what you want to do than fine, is not heroin, and what we have done in this country is one glove fits all so to speak, and it doesn’t work for everybody, you have to give people choices. It is just like when the government says you are no longer addicted to drugs because you will have to come in for treatment, it does not work like that.

Only when the addict is ready to get off of the drug is the time when there is the best chance of them no longer being addicted. You have to understand that once your addicted oftentimes you’re addicted for life. Because the sun could come up wrong and you could come up using again that is how addiction works, an addict will find any excuse or reason to use.

Rhodes: If you could speak directly to Connecticut Republicans, to try to win them over, what would you say?

Thornton: Well I have had my biggest successes with conservative Republicans. Especially on the issue of the drug war, because when you talk about legalization and medicalization against criminalization what you are actually talking about is a highly conservative policy in that it seeks to limit the access to these illegal drugs for children and secondly tax those drugs so they can be put into the wholesale economy.

As it exists today the worldwide economy of illegal drugs is estimated at something like 599 billion dollars per year, for years almost 300 billion dollars of that came from the United States alone. So if we could possibly free up that than we would be better for it. But understand that this market of 599 billion dollars is a greatly inflated market; we would not get that kind of money if drugs came inside the law.

Rhodes: (Note: If cannabis was legalized and taxed at the rate of fifty cents per joint it is estimated this would bring in six billion dollars of tax revenue a year.)

Rhodes: If you could speak directly to Connecticut Democrats, to try to win them over, what would you say?

Thornton: These are the hardest ones to convince. The Democrats are basically malcontents. They can’t even put forth a solid program on anything that I have seen in the last forty to fifty years. So the Democrats are a party that over the next ten to fifteen to twenty years they are on their way out because they don’t espouse anything.

They are gutless wonders. I am not crazy about the Republicans and the programs they are putting forth but at least they are bold enough to come across with them, and they have learned to frame the message that makes the people sit up and take notice.

The Democrats are scared about everything so Democrats to me are on the lowest rung. Third parties are up top, the Republicans are in the middle, and the Democrats are on the bottom. The third parties are not getting on because the ideas seem radical, and understand that all great truths begin as blasphemy.

So we have a way to go to convince the people, but the people again are in this mushroom theory. When you talk to people, especially as many people as I have talked to just in the last three years, they are not up on the issues. They just don’t know what’s going on. So it is going to take a tremendous amount of education to educate not only the people in Connecticut but the people in this country, because they don’t know what the hell is going on. What they do know is that they are fed up with the federal government because they never come through on what they promise. Understand to that the federal government is bloated with Democrats.

Previous parts in this series can be found at:
Part One: http://www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/004086.html
Part Two: http://www.watchblog.com/thirdparty/archives/004105.html

Cliff Thornton Official Campaign Website: http://www.politicalgateway.com/cand.php?id=314&page=cand

Green Party of Connecticut: http://www.ctgreens.org/index.shtml

Green Party of the United States: http://www.gp.org


Posted by Richard Rhodes at August 27, 2006 2:47 PM
Comments
Comment #177892
Thornton wrote: They [Democrats or just Connecticut Democrats]are gutless wonders.

That will certainly win votes. : )
Gutlessness is not the problem.
Corruption is the problem.
Why take on tough issues when voters keep re-electing (empowering) incumbents, regardless.

… all great truths begin as blasphemy.
Yes, quite often, and here is one of those great truths:
Except on a very few things, there doesn’t seem be be much difference between Democrats and Republicans.
Not based on the way they vote. For the most part, they both voted to invade Iraq, voted for tax cuts for the wealthy, voted for refusing a ethics commission, vote to promote illegal immigration by the millions (to exploit and under-paid under-class), voted themselves cu$hy perk$ and raises, and refuse many common-sense, no-brainer reforms, or anything that might possibly reduce the security of the cu$hy, coveted seats of power, or reduce their vast opportunities for self-gain.

So, on most things, they’re almost 100% identical.

So, when will it all end?
When can things get better?
When does corruption end?
Only when the corruption becomes too painful.

We’ve got a ways to go still.
Perhaps after the next great depression?

Posted by: d.a.n at August 28, 2006 5:48 PM
Comment #177894

Did ya hear the one about the five surgeons discussing the best patients to operate on?

The 1st surgeon says: “I like to see accountants on my operating table, because when you open them up, everything inside is numbered.”

The 2nd responds, “Yeah, but you should try electricians. Everything inside them is color coded.”

The 3rd surgeon says, “I prefer librarians. Everything inside is in alphabetical order!

The 4th surgeon chimes in, “I like construction workers. Those guys don’t really mind when you have a few parts left over at the end, and when the job takes longer than you said it would.”

The 5th surgeon shut them all up when he observed, “No. Hands down, politicians are by far the easiest to operate on. There’s no guts, no heart and no spine, and the head and butt are interchangeable.”

Posted by: d.a.n at August 28, 2006 5:53 PM
Comment #178004

Nice one d.a.n.

Hey Richard, where are all your Green Party friends to come and give some feedback on your articles? Your comment average isn’t very impressive in this blog. Is it maybe that you’ve been telling them they’re all “gutless wonders”? You know, because they’re voting for Liberal Democrats and trying to avoid having Republicans in permanent control of American government, screwing everything up so their rich friends get richer, and making everyone else suffer needlessly?
Just curious.

Posted by: Adrienne at August 29, 2006 12:39 AM
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