Yang says he would decriminalize opiates, as well as marijuana

Democratic presidential candidate Andrew YangAndrew YangAmerica's real 'freedom dividend': Hard work and pro-business policies The Hill's Campaign Report: 2020 Democrats trading jabs ahead of Los Angeles debate Booker says he will not make December debate stage MORE on Wednesday said in an interview with Hill.TV that he would decriminalize opiates for personal use in addition to marijuana if elected president.

“In addition to decriminalizing marijuana, I would decriminalize opiates for personal use,” Yang told Hill.TV, noting that this would include heroin.

Yang noted that misuse of prescription drugs like OxyContin, which is an opioid, often leads to an addiction to more even more serious substance abuse problems. While all opiates are opioids, all opioids are not opiates.

“At this point, you’ve had this OxyContin addiction that has morphed into fentanyl and heroin, which are frankly more accessible and sometimes less expensive than the OxyContin that started the addiction chain,” he told Hill.TV.

Yang has previously stated that he supports marijuana legalization and the decriminalization of small amounts of opioids. He has also proposed a number of drug policy proposals since announcing his bid for president in November 2017.

The entrepreneur made headlines in April when he announced that he would pardon all nonviolent drug offenders.

“I’m for full legalization of marijuana,” he tweeted. “I would go a step further and on 4/20, 2021, exactly 2 years from today, I would pardon everyone who’s in jail for a low-level, non-violent marijuana offense and I would high five them on their way out of jail.”

His comments come a day after North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein (D) filed a new lawsuit accusing members of the Sackler family, who own Purdue Pharma, of deliberately ignoring the harmful effects of OxyContin in order to boost the prescription painkiller's sales and profits.

“We have been negotiating with Purdue and the Sacklers for months, but so far, the Sacklers have not been willing to put meaningful skin in the game to help clean up the mess they’ve helped create,” Stein said in a statement.

The Trump administration has made fighting the nation's opioid addiction epidemic one of the center points of his presidency. 

Earlier this month, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced more than $1.8 billion in funding to help expand access to treatment and help states to continue to combat the opioid epidemic. 

— Tess Bonn