Joe Biden’s Early Drug War Strategy: Governors With Flamethrowers Incinerating Marijuana


Prior to he was a vice president, Joe Biden was a “tough on crime” senator on a mission to finish the “scourge” of drugs.

Element of that mission, he stated in 1989, could involve governors armed with flamethrowers, incinerating illicit marijuana grows along the mountainsides of their states.

At least, that is what he predicted would occur by 1995, as the domestic production of cannabis became competitive with international trafficking. Biden produced the comments at a U.S. Conference of Mayors occasion, exactly where he was pressed on the limitations on the use of military sources to combat drug crimes.

A Los Angeles-location mayor complained to the then-senator that the Drug Enforcement Administration is capable to determine planes suspected of carrying drugs but the military does not intervene and force the plane down. He stated the government does not just require a drug czar—a Cabinet-level position that Biden helped create—but also requirements a “supreme allied commander that is going to aid construct a battle program and who is going to give the marching orders.”

If not, the mayor joked, federal dollars ought to go toward contracting the British Navy to lay siege to the Capitol, burn it down and get started creating the government all more than once more.

Biden picked up on the point about trafficking by means of the airspace and stated there’s 1 point taking place that “you ought to fully grasp.”

“You know what California’s biggest money crop is agriculturally? Marijuana,” he stated. “We are most likely to be, by the year 1995, entirely self-adequate,” suggesting that adequate cannabis would be grown domestically that there wouldn’t be a require for international trafficking.

“We’re not going to be concerned about pulling down planes,” he stated. “We’re going to have to be concerned about obtaining governors to go out in the mountainsides with flamethrowers, with you subsequent to them, dealing with it in their backyards.”

“I fully grasp your aggravation,” he stated. “It’s extremely complex and some of the items, brief of burning down the Capitol, I consider, are worth taking into consideration.”

Earlier in the meeting, Biden expressed aggravation with the political rhetoric surrounding the drug war and stated Congress can only do so considerably to do away with drugs without the need of a strategic program in spot.

“We speak about waging a war on drugs, eliminating drugs in our term if not our lifetime,” he stated. “With all due respect to all of you and to these with whom I serve, our terms are not lengthy adequate for that to occur. I consider it is about time we quit kidding the American people today and our constituents about what we are going to be capable to do legislatively in order to finish this scourge.”

“The sincere truth is we have no drug approach in America. It does not exist. It has not existed,” he stated, adding that is partly why he pushed to establish a federal drug czar position.

“I am the proud sponsor of, or the shameful father of, about two,000 pages of difficult legislation, all of which has passed beneath my cosponsorship or sponsorship or leadership on the Senate Judiciary Committee,” he went on to say. “We have adequate laws now at the federal level. We require to figure out to make them perform. We require to figure out no matter whether any of them are worthwhile.”

These “tough” pieces of legislation, as of Biden’s 1989 remarks, integrated measures to boost sentences for particular drug offenses and impose monetary penalties on nations that do not meet drug eradication requirements. They would also later involve notoriously punitive legislation such as the 1994 Crime Bill, which played a central function in the rise of mass incarceration in the U.S.

Even though the flamethrower program is not most likely to resurface any time soon—as Biden has considering that come out in help of decriminalization, modest rescheduling and enabling states to set their personal cannabis policies—he lately took a further web page from the previous when he explained his opposition to adult-use legalization by saying marijuana may well be a gateway to extra risky drugs.

Days later, right after becoming extensively criticized and named out by Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) in the course of a Democratic presidential debate more than the comments, Biden reversed himself and stated proof does not help the concept that cannabis is a gateway drug.

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Photo courtesy of C-SPAN.

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