HTTP/1.0 200 OK Content-Type: text/html Should the Government Legalize
Pubdate: Thu, 22 Feb 2001
Source: CNN (US Web)
Copyright: 2001 Cable News Network, Inc.
Note: this is a rush transcript. This copy may not be in its final 
form and may be updated.



BEATLES (singing): Lucy in the sky with diamonds. Follow her down to 
a bridge by a fountain where rocking horse people eat marshmallow 


BILL PRESS, CO-HOST: I remember those days, and I must admit: I did inhale.

TUCKER CARLSON, CO-HOST: Sadly, America has been living with the 
consequences ever since.

PRESS: Welcome to the future of television! Welcome to THE SPIN ROOM 
on CNN. I'm Bill Press, thanks for joining us.

CARLSON: In amusement, I'm Tucker Carlson. We are doing a drug show 
tonight; and we're also tying in pardons; we can do that, because we 
are talking with New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, who was easily the 
country's most famous and highest elected official to endorse drug 
legalization in some forms. Anyway, we will be asking Governor 
Johnson; President Clinton pardoned a ton of dope dealers; are you 
the only Republican in America that is happy about it?

PRESS: All right; your questions also for Governor Johnson; join in 
as you usually do by phone: 1-800-310-4CNN, or join our chatroom at and spend e-mails to spin at or for real excitement: 
make our day join web site at and you can tune -- 
join in the quick vote; should we continue the war on drugs is 
today's question. You vote yes or no.

CARLSON: Another thing you can do; oh, the many features of THE SPIN 
ROOM: you can sign up for a daily e-mail from us alerting you to 
tonight's topic.

PRESS: How many more ways can we service the public?

CARLSON: It's pretty unbelievable.

PRESS: It is.

CARLSON: We are not just focusing on the news tonight, but drama.

PRESS: Drugs are everywhere.

CARLSON: They are everywhere. They are a major topic of conversations 
in living rooms, especially dorm rooms, and also on network 
television. Take a look at last night's episode of the "West Wing," 
where legalization was approached.


ACTOR: Turn off your computer; let's go.

ACTRESS: No, I'm going to stay and watch this. I think maybe you should, too.

ACTOR: What is it?

ACTRESS: The surgeon general is doing an on-line chat.

ACTOR: What's she talking about?

ACTRESS: De-criminalizing marijuana.

ACTOR: See you tomorrow.


PRESS: Not many people around the White House want to talk about it. 
Notice how the guy takes off. You know, Tucker, I think it's time to 
admit that the war on drugs under Republican and Democratic 
presidents is a joke. We've spent all this money; we are getting no 
where; it's time for a totally different policy.

CARLSON: You know, it appeals to my libertarian instincts, but people 
who love socialism; go to the Soviet Union and North Korea; see how 
it actually works. If you love drug legalization, go to Amsterdam. 
It's a very depressing place; lots of drooling people. Everyone looks 
like he's just shot up, which is, in many cases, the truth. It's not 
pretty in its effect.

PRESS: I invite you to go to any of America's prisons and look at the 
people in there -- first time offenders, nonviolent drug users, and 
in there for 15 or 20 years, and see if that is working. But you 
know, we don't know as much about as our guest tonight.

CARLSON: That's right. Gary Johnson, Republican from New Mexico. 
Thanks for joining us, Governor.

GOV. GARY JOHNSON (R), MEXICO: I appreciate you having me on. You 
start off the top of hour by joking about the fact you inhaled and I 
have too, but for the grace of God, we are not in jail or 80 million 
other Americans who have, at one point or another, done the same. I 
think it's in this country to face the fact.

And that is, if you are smoking marijuana in the confines of your own 
home doing no harm other than, arguably, to yourself, do you belong 
in jail? I don't think you belong in jail. I think that it's a bad 
choice but hey, and Amsterdam -- talking about Holland.

Holland has 60 percent the drug use as that of the United States by 
kids and adults and that's for hard drugs and marijuana both. So if 
you want to look at a country that really has rational drug policy, 
Holland would not suggest that it would be a worse alternative than 
what we've currently got.

CARLSON: But they tend to do it on the street, which is a little less 
attractive. But let me...

JOHNSON: But they have decriminalized it, so they've done it on the 
street, so they can see it. That's one of the criticisms in Holland: 
you can see it and smell it. Again, you can see it smell it, but they 
have a lot less use than that of the United States. Kids don't use 
drugs in Holland like they do in the United States, and they have 
effectively legalized drugs.

CARLSON: Let's talk about the people who have been caught using drugs 
and wound up in prison. Some of them or a bunch of them were pardoned 
by President Clinton. Republicans are mad about it. Are you? How do 
you feel about all of these pardons for drug dealers? Big cocaine 
kingpins, for instance?

JOHNSON: First of all, I have been asked that all the time. It's 
against the law, so I'm not condoning unlawful activity but I would 
hope in analyzing what have done -- nonviolent drug criminals behind 
bars -- we would take those people into account. What we've got to 
take into account is, we all want to put the pusher behind bars, and 
the fact is, the profile of the pusher is the mother of three who's 
on welfare who sold a little piece of her rock cocaine for $7 to an 
undercover agent.

And it happens to be the third time she's done it, so now she is 
behind bars for 15 or 18 years because of federal mandatory 
sentencing. It's crazy. Do you know how many people we're arresting 
every year in this country? Do you guys know?

PRESS: Lay it on us.

JOHNSON: Come on, take a guess.

PRESS: 100,000.

JOHNSON: 100,000. That's a fairly educated guess; 1.6 million people 
a year -- we are arresting on drug-related crime. Unbelievable! That 
is absolutely unbelievable. When you factor out pre-adolescents, 
that's like one out of every 200 people in this country are getting 
arrested every year on drug-related crime. I need to draw a line of 
distinction. Here's a line of distinction, all right?

PRESS: The guy's on a roll.


PRESS: You're on a roll.

JOHNSON: Look at alcohol, for example. You have a drink in a bar. 
That's acceptable activity, right? But you get out of the bar and you 
get into your car, it suddenly has become criminal, and it should be. 
You leave the bar and get into a fight -- you assault somebody -- 
that's criminal, and it should be.

I think we should apply these same principles to drug use. You're 
doing it in your own home, you are not doing harm to anybody but 
yourself, but you cross the line when you become involved in either 
property crime, violent crime; those other aspects, so we need to 
look at how we reduce the harm from these drugs.

PRESS: All right, Governor, just so you don't feel so lonely out 
there; a quick e-mail from Jackie:

"As for Governor Johnson, you are the rarest of things; a brave and 
honest politician. Thank you for all your courage." We won't read all 
the hate e-mails for you; we will save those for later.

JOHNSON: Actually, just so you guys know. There is a lot of support 
for this, and a lot of support among public for this. There's 
actually no support for this amongst elected officials.

PRESS: That's what I want to ask you. President Bush was down in 
Mexico last Friday, his first foreign foray -- speaking with 
President Vicente Fox down there, and here's what he had to say at 
his news conference with President Fox about the war on drugs; please 


take message back to the members of Congress, that I firmly believe 
that President Fox will do everything in his power to root out the 
drugs lords, and help drug trafficking as best as he possibly can.


PRESS: So what kind of support are you getting from President Bush? 
It sounds to me like he's going down the same road as Presidents 
Clinton and other Bush and Reagan did?

JOHNSON: I'm optimistic. I have gotten to be really good friends with 
George and I'm optimistic. Here is somebody who will make strides 
with regards to drugs. But I'm not expecting him to do that out of 
the chute -- and significant with the trip to Mexico is the fact that 
he lifted sanctions with regards to drug certification and this has 
been a huge issue among the border governors. It's really a farce and 
he said, hey, it's a farce, and we aren't going to hold to it, so 
that was a positive step.

CARLSON: Now, Governor, one of the criticisms thrown at you and other 
legalizers is, gee, what about children? I want to read to you one of 
the quotes you have been criticized about, uttering -- from an 
interview you -- describing a talk you had with high school students. 
"You hear you're going to lose your mind or die if you smoke 
marijuana. I said to the high school students, you know what? I 
smoked marijuana, and when I smoked it, none of those things 
happened. In fact, it was kind of cool."

We won't argue with the specifics of that, but is this the right 
message to be giving to high school students?

JOHNSON: Hey, the message for high school students and the message 
for our kids is, we love them period. . We love them. We don't want 
them to do drugs, but the reality is, 51 percent of the graduating 
class of the year 2000 did illegal drugs, and my son happens to be a 
member of that graduating class, so statistically, he's probably 
going to have done illegal drugs.

CARLSON: Of course. You are telling him it's cool -- of course. I 
mean, why wouldn't he be?

JOHNSON: No, I'm not telling him it's cool. What about -- I'm saying 
it's totally uncool; don't do drugs, all right? If there's one thing 
I say here, it's don't do drugs. And I say, don't do cigarettes. And 
I'm somebody that hasn't had a drink in 13 years, and if you guys 

I want to make a plea to you: stop drinking your martinis; it's a 
real handicap, and let's not forget, at one point in this country's 
history, that was also criminal. So, what I tell my kids: don't do 
drugs. But I tell my kids, you know what? If you are ever in a 
position -- a bad position, where I don't know what happens; you give 
me a call, and I'm coming to get you, because I love you; no 
questions asked.

So, what we need to give our kids is a real strong doze of the truth. 
We need to tell them the truth regarding these drugs and what 
happens; and I'm tired of parents that want to lock up their kids, 
rather than somehow educate them, and deal with this on a medical 
basis, rather than a criminal basis.

PRESS: All right, Governor Gary Johnson!

JOHNSON: I'm going to calm down now.

CARLSON: You are an evangelist for legalization.

PRESS: We don't want you to calm down.

Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico is our guest. Maybe we'll find 
out, but, well, can you really take this on the campaign trail and 
win on this message in America.

We'll talk to the governor more when we come back -- Tucker.

CARLSON: We'll be right back, still awaiting your nominations for 
"Spin of The Day," so e-mail them, call them in, we'd like to see 
them. We'll be right back.

PRESS: Just don't take away my martini.


CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM. We are in middle of a 
conversation with Governor Gary Johnson of New Mexico, a man who 
inhaled and is delighted to tell you about it.

We'll get to him in just a second, but first, news.

PRESS: Very quickly, our political news of the day -- and it's all 
Bush today. Number one, the president had his first news conference 
in the White House. He was asked by a reporter, his thoughts, his 
profound thoughts on the most serious espionage case perhaps in the 
history of the United States, and here is what the president had to 


they caught the spy.


PRESS: Tucker.

CARLSON: Pithy is the word, Bill.

PRESS: Pithy.


PRESS: I would say, tiny sentences, tiny words, tiny thoughts.

CARLSON: Pith is the word.

OK! And more fallout from the Marc Rich scandal. Asked the other day, 
would he ever pardon baseball great Pete Rose, George W. Bush 


PETE ROSE, ALL-TIME HITS LEADER: Thank you, it's a pleasure to be here...


CARLSON: "Sadly, no." Yeah, we all suffer.

PRESS: So, my advice to Pete Rose is that he should hire Hugh Rodham.


PRESS: Yes, all right, and the final note is how do we know this the 
other day, in "The New York Post," Cindy Adams wrote a column in 
which he said that Nancy Reagan is not very impressed with President 
Bush. In fact, according to Cindy Adams, she calls him the village 

Nancy Reagan responded today as follows. In "The New York Post," she 
writes: "As you can understand, I'm doing my best these days to care 
for my husband and rarely have time to respond to press stories. 
However, the column is so hurtful and erroneous that I fell compelled 
to contact you. I have great respect and admiration for President 
Bush. I personally voted for him and urged other to do so."

The story there is, of course, that Nancy Reagan does not call the 
president the village idiot.

All right, we have e-mails now coming in to us about Governor Johnson.

CARLSON: Here's one from Ron Lambert, "Governor Johnson is the first 
level-headed Republican I've seen in 30 years."

PRESS: Here, here. Ray Crawford, Rutherfordton, North Carolina, 
"Johnson's notion on the war a drugs makes too much sense for many 
people in Washington to listen to."

CARLSON: Well, I don't think that's nice, but let's ask Governor 
Johnson about how well he's been received.

Governor Johnson, it sounds to me -- I doubt I am the first person to 
point this out, but a lot of the points you are making are 
Libertarian points. You can't run again, as far as I understand, in 
New Mexico because of term limits. Would you ever run as a 

JOHNSON: No, this is the end of my political career. I had never been 
involved in politics before. This is something I've always wanted to 
do my whole life -- actually, got elected governor and got reelected 
as governor, so I've been given a great opportunity, and I'm trying 
to make the most out of it.

I recognize that they would line up around the block to tell you I've 
done anything -- you know, I've done no good for New Mexico, but 
that's part of the job.

You know, getting back to drugs, you know, talking about the harm 
that drugs cause. It is amazing that, as politicians, we hear all the 
time, you know, what are you going to do about property crime, what 
are you going to do about violent crime, what are you going to do 
about all the people in jail. You give them an answer: well, you 
could start by legalizing marijuana and you could start by adopting 
harm reduction strategies on all these other drugs, and you would, in 
fact, positively impact these statistics.

I've met with the chief of police of Zurich here about eight weeks 
ago in Albuquerque, and you know what he had to say? He said, you 
know, they came out with free heroin in Zurich. Free heroin! You've 
got to be an addict, but you get a prescription for heroin, you go to 
the clinic, you inject -- the clinic -- at the clinic. Well, he said 
that when they came out with this -- I have been in law enforcement 
my whole life, everybody I was associated with in law enforcement -- 
we could not have been more opposed to what was going to happen in 
Zurich, because we thought that all of the wrong things were going to 
get worse.

I'm here to tell you that this has surpassed anyone's wildest 
expectations with regard to it getting better in Zurich. Zurich is a 
great place to live. Hepatitis C, AIDS, overdose, violent crime, 
property crime...

CARLSON: But wait, wait, wait, wait, wait a second, governor...

JOHNSON: ... have all gone down.

CARLSON: As someone who clearly has Libertarian leanings, are you 
comfortable with the idea of the government doling out heroin to 
people? I mean, isn't there something creepy about that?

JOHNSON: Well, again, what we've got to do is improve on a situation 
- -- there are 10,000 heroin addicts in New Mexico -- and that's the 
estimate -- that wake up every single morning with one thing on their 
mind, when -- when and where are they going to get their next fix, 
how are they going to pay for it and everything that gets associated 
with it.

Well, you know what, that's property crime. That's -- either one of 
your houses getting burglarized right now in the name of drugs. It's 
violent crime. It is HIV, it's hepatitis C, it's...


CARLSON: But should the government be passing heroin to people, I 
guess that's the bottom line question. Should the government be 
supplying heroin to people?

JOHNSON: The government should start to adopt harm reduction 
strategies, and these harm reduction strategies -- so, you know, what 
we're trying to start out here on small steps. Do you want kill a 
heroin addict, or do you want to save their life first and then you 
want to try to get them off of heroin?

And, if I might, for example, they've got this miracle drug, Narcan, 
that if you inject Narcan in an overdose victim -- I mean, we're 
talking about somebody who's almost dead. You give them a $1.50 dose 
of Narcan, apparently, you can just stick it anywhere, stick it in 
them, and they -- they're alive.

Well, why not limit liability, so that the police when they show up 
at an overdose situation can administer Narcan without first looking 
- -- the way it is now, they show up at an overdose situation, they 
want to handcuff whoever's involved, rather than saving a life 

PRESS: Governor?


PRESS: Governor, you know what, we're just getting started, but we're 
out of time, and I hate to say it, because it's been great having 
you. We want you to come back...

JOHNSON: Are you cutting me -- are you just cutting me, or are you 
giving me the trap door?

PRESS: That's right...


JOHSON: ... I thought we were scheduled for more time.

CARLSON: No, it's the White House drug office just called.


PRESS: Let me just say, thank you for being here, and I, for one...

JOHNSON: Trap door. Trap door.

PRESS: I, for one, want to salute you. I agree with you 100 percent. 
Keep going. There is a couple of us who agree with you.

CARLSON: And a half-salute for me. Thank you, governor.

PRESS: All right. Governor Gary Johnson. He is the man. He gets trap 
door, but we don't. We'll be right back with you and your "Spins of 
The Day" here in THE SPIN ROOM.

CARLSON: Free heroin!


CARLSON: Welcome back to THE SPIN ROOM.

Tucker Carlson, Bill Press both recovering from Governor Gary Johnson 
of New Mexico. But first, I just want to quick point out candles, 
sent to us from Melinda Myers (ph), of San Angelo, Texas, soon to be 
in a retail outlet near you; SPIN ROOM candles. And I have to say, 
they smell very nice.

PRESS: They do. SPIN ROOM candles, and also look, look, look, look at 
this Tuckerrrr -- Canada -- a Canada tie. This comes from Joan Lay 
(ph) in Canada, who says she likes the show so much, that when we're 
on she actually switches from a hockey game to watch THE SPIN ROOM.

CARLSON: For a Canadian to say that...


PRESS: ... You have got to love it.

CARLSON: OK, we have a phone spin, not from Canada but from from 
Pennsylvania. Loretta is on the line -- Loretta, are you there?

PRESS: Hey, Loretta. CALLER: Yes, I am. My "Spin of the Day," guys, 
is Hillary Clinton contradicting herself. First, when she got in 
front of the press today she said she was unaware of any conversation 
between her husband and her brother, and her husband and her 
treasurer for her campaign.

Yet when she ran for senator, her whole basis of experience was, was 
that she was an intricate part of the Clinton administration. So, 
which is it? Either she knows or she doesn't.

PRESS: Oh, Loretta, you are such a cynic.

CARLSON: Loretta, you could take my job, Loretta. That's exactly what 
I've been thinking all day.

PRESS: A lot of e-mails, and we'll talk about Hillary in just a 
second, a lot of e-mails about Governor Johnson. Just to show that it 
wasn't all positive, this man writes in: "I was a police officer for 
many years. Now without saying, you know what I think of Governor 
Gary Johnson. One word -- jerk."

CARLSON: It's a common feeling in the law enforcement community.

Here is one taken from the other point of view: "Just because we make 
it legal, doesn't make it good. A lot of things are bad and legal: 
platform shoes, cigarettes and hair plugs. I've never used drugs, but 
I want them legal."

PRESS: And Joan Healy (ph), California, quickly: "Treatment, not war. 
Drug addiction is a disease, not a crime."

CARLSON: I think I saw that in spray paint on the side of a building, Bill.

PRESS: Yeah, but that's so true. Leads me to -- Loretta started with 
Hillary, I go to Hillary too. Her extraordinary news conference today 
at the United States Senate, where I think Hillary Clinton -- she was 
like the statue of liberty declaring a blow for freedom.

Listen to this. Here she goes.


SEN. HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON (D), NEW YORK: With respect to any of 
these decisions, you'll have to talk with people who were involved in 
making them, and that leaves me out.


PRESS: "That leaves me out." Translation to Bill: On this one, you're 
on your own, buster.

CARLSON: Bill, if you -- I'm going to have to get a Hillary puppet if 
you keep going.

(CROSSTALK) PRESS: It's what she said. I love it.

CARLSON: My "Spin of the Day" is also from Hillary Clinton -- I'm sure.

And this is Hillary Clinton explaining the role of William 
Cunningham, her campaign treasurer, who, as we now know, received 
money to facilitate the pardons of two men from Arkansas.

Listen to Mrs. Clinton.


CLINTON: You know, if he were, you know, Joe Smith from somewhere, 
who had no connection with me, we wouldn't be standing here, would 
we? So, I just think you have to, you have to see it in context. 
That's what I keep asking people to do, is put these things in 
context and there's a very big, very big difference.


CARLSON: If he "had no connection with me." If he had no connection 
with Hillary Clinton, he wouldn't have been paid to secure the 
pardons in the first place. That's the whole point. That was this 
man's qualification, that he knew Hillary Clinton. There was no 
other. That's at the very center of this. That is spin on a profound 

PRESS: Actually, Clinton, I think she was talk about her brother in 
that case. If his is name were Joe Smith we would not be standing 
here today.

CARLSON: No, I don't think so. And you just called me Clinton, more 
to the point.

PRESS: Tucker, I would not compliment you that way.

CARLSON: You're melting down. You know what I think it was? It was 
Gary Johnson and his heroin talk.

PRESS: No, I think it's the odor, I think it's the odor from the candles.

All right, guys, I think it's time for sports.

CARLSON: I think it is. That would be "SPORTS TONIGHY."

PRESS: Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute, I have to give the results 
of tonight's quick vote. Quickly, should we continue the war on drugs?

61 percent of you said no. Gary Johnson, he made all those converts. 
Only 39 percent of you said yes.

Now it's time for sports.

CARLSON: There you go. We pack it all in here on THE SPIN ROOM.

We'll be right back with "SPORTS TONIGHT."


PRESS: I've got to tell you, Tucker, it's the most fun I've had since 

CARLSON: That's saying a lot.

Tomorrow night's going to be every bit as fun. Capping off a week of 
A-list bookings, we have Republican genius, Frank Luntz.

PRESS: The boy wonder.

CARLSON: The boy wonder.

PRESS: Indeed.

CARLSON: It's going to be great.

OK. It's on to Vince.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Josh Sutcliffe