Remember That One Time Beto O’Rourke Called For Legalizing All Narcotics

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate in Texas Beto O’Rourke once advocated for the legalization of all narcotics, The Daily Caller News Foundation has learned.

O’Rourke, as a member of the El Paso, Texas, city council in 2009, put forth and passed a resolution urging the federal government to support “an honest, open national debate on ending the prohibition of narcotics.”


“And I’d ask that there be some language in here that would also include advocating, or looking at, rethinking our War on Drugs, which by any measure I’ve looked it has been an abject failure. And also, looking at ending the prohibition on narcotics in the United States. And I’m not saying that we need to do that – to end the prohibition,” O’Rourke said in a Jan. 6, 2009 city council meeting. “I think we need to have a serious discussion about doing that, and that may, in the end, be the right course of action.”

The resolution was met with immediate attacks from the Texas state delegation and from members of the council. Facing intense pressure, then-El Paso City Mayor John Cook vetoed the resolution, but O’Rourke persisted, pushing to override the mayor’s veto.

Former Democratic Rep. Silvestre Reyes of Texas, who O’Rourke challenged and defeated in 2012, wrote members of the El Paso city council on Jan. 13, 2009 to ask that they “vote against overriding Mayor Cook’s veto.”

O’Rourke’s final attempt to legalize narcotics ultimately failed, although his advocacy and persistence during a time when the nation’s opioid and drug overdose crisis was starting to take off is something to note.

O’Rourke’s team did not immediately respond to requests for comment regarding the resolution and his previous statements.

Some 16,651 Americans died from overdoses of prescription opioid pain relievers in 2010, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That is only one year after O’Rourke introduced his resolution and only represents the deaths related to prescription narcotics. Since 2010, deaths from drug overdoses have skyrocketed to the point of a legitimate crisis plaguing every region of the nation.

Drug overdose deaths surged 21 percent in 2016, taking 63,000 American lives. The increase came primarily from opioids, which claimed 42,429 lives in 2016. Well over 71,000 Americans are estimated to have lost their lives from opioid and drug related use in 2017.

O’Rourke is currently running on a belief that he has championed since his days in the El Paso city council: ending the war on Drugs.

His campaign website calls for an “end (to) the U.S. government’s war on drugs and encourage comprehensive reforms in drug control policies that have had a devastating effect on communities of color.”

O’Rourke, notably, trailed Cruz only 3 percentage points in a mid-February Quinnipiac poll, causing many around the nation to believe the often circulated theory that Texas is going “blue.” Quinnipiac polls all “registered voters” in Texas, which causes some conservative pundits to question the results, since just over a quarter of registered voters cast ballots in 2014.

The Republican party has held the governor’s seat and both Senate seats for nearly 20 years. O’Rourke still has roughly 8 months to campaign and try to continue to gain ground on Cruz.

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