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George Shultz’s Drug Views Draw White House Jibes

November 6, 1989 GMT

WASHINGTON (AP) _ The White House poked fun at former Secretary of State George P. Shultz on Monday for suggesting that the United States should consider legalizing cocaine and other drugs.

″Whoa, he’s been out on the West Coast too long, hasn’t he?″ quipped Press Secretary Marlin Fitzwater. ″The guy slips into retirement and right away he starts saying things that are strange.″

More seriously, Fitzwater said, ″Clearly, we do not believe drugs should be legalized. President Bush feels very strongly that that is the wrong direction at the wrong time; that it is not a moral position for the United States to take; and that it makes no sense whatsoever.″


Shultz’s views on legalizing drugs were published in The Wall Street Journal Oct. 27 in an adaptation of remarks he made to an alumni gathering at the Stanford Business School in Palo Alto, Calif., on Oct. 7.

Shultz said, ″It seems to me we’re not really going to get anywhere until we can take the criminality out of the drug business and the incentives for criminality out of it.

″Frankly,″ he added, ″the only way I can think of to accomplish this is to make it possible for addicts to buy drugs at some regulated place at a price that approximates their cost.

″When you do that you wipe out the criminal incentives, including ... the incentive that the drug pushers have to go around and get kids addicted, so that they create a market for themselves. They won’t have that incentive because they won’t have that market.

″... We need at least to consider and examine forms of controlled legalization of drugs,″ Shultz said.

The former secretary acknowledged that his views would be controversial. ″No politician wants to say what I just said, not for a minute.″

Shultz served as secretary of state for President Reagan from July 1982 until January 1989, when he returned to the faculty at the Stanford Business School.

During the Nixon administration, he was budget director and secretary of the treasury with jurisdiction over the Customs Service.