Trump called for the legalization of all drugs in 1990 — but his cabinet signals a very different policy

President-elect Donald Trump once deemed the drug war a 'joke' and called for the legalization of all drugs, during a luncheon held by The Miami Herald in 1990.

But as Trump's cabinet takes shape — he's tapped Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) as attorney general and General John Kelly as the secretary of homeland security — it's clear that the president-elect's thinking around the issue has shifted drastically.

Related: Trump's official picks for cabinet and administration positions

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Trump's official picks for Cabinet and administration positions
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Trump's official picks for Cabinet and administration positions

Counselor to the President: Kellyanne Conway

REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Veterans Affairs Secretary: David Shulkin

(Photo credit DOMINICK REUTER/AFP/Getty Images)

Transportation secretary: Elaine Chao

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Energy secretary: Rick Perry

(Photo credit KENA BETANCUR/AFP/Getty Images)

Secretary of State: Rex Tillerson

 REUTERS/Daniel Kramer

Secretary of Defense: Retired Marine General James Mattis

(Photo by Samuel Corum/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)

Chief of staff: Reince Priebus

(JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images)

Chief strategist: Steve Bannon

(EDUARDO MUNOZ ALVAREZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Attorney General: Senator Jeff Sessions

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Director of the CIA: Kansas Rep. Mike Pompeo

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Deputy national security adviser: K.T. McFarland

(Photo by Michael Schwartz/Getty Images)

White House counsel: Donald McGahn

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Ambassador to the United Nations: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley

(Photo by Astrid Riecken For The Washington Post via Getty Images)

Education secretary: Betsy DeVos

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Commerce secretary: Wilbur Ross

(Photo by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Homeland security secretary: General John Kelly

(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Housing and urban development secretary: Ben Carson

(Photo credit NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)

Administrator of Environmental Protection Agency: Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

(Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images)

Health and human services secretary: Tom Price

(Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Department of Homeland Security: Retired General John Kelly

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

Secretary of agriculture: Sonny Perdue

(BRYAN R. SMITH/AFP/Getty Images)
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"We're losing badly the war on drugs," Trump said in 1990, per The Herald. "You have to legalize drugs to win that war."

"You have to take the profit away from these drug czars."

Trump further explained that tax revenues from a legal drug trade could be used to educate the public about "the dangers of drugs."

It's important to note that Trump's comments came decades before he ran for an elected office.

Since the beginning of the campaign, Trump has taken a very different stance on drugs. In a February interview with Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, Trump called Colorado's legal marijuana industry a "real problem," though he did say that he's "100%" in favor of medical marijuana.

Trump also said in an interview with The Washington Post in October 2015 that "we should leave it up to the states," to decide whether or not marijuana should be legal.

Since the election, the president-elect has stacked his new cabinet with staunch anti-marijuana advocates.

Trump's attorney general pick, Jeff Sessions, said in an April Senate hearing that "good people don't smoke marijuana," and linked marijuana use to cocaine and heroin.

Rep. Tom Price (R-GA), Trump's pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, has also expressed opposition to legalizing marijuana.

Related: Marijuana legalization laws by state

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Marijuana legalization laws by state
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Marijuana legalization laws by state

Alabama: Medical use only, otherwise possession is a felony

(Photo: Dennis Macdonald via Getty Images)

Alaska: Marijuana legalized for medical and recreational use 

(Photo: Zoonar/N.Okhitin via Getty Images)

Arizona: Marijuana legalized for medical use

(Photo: Mikel Ortega via Getty Images)

Arkansas: Medical use only

(Photo: Getty Images)

California: Legal for medical and recreational use

(Getty)

Colorado: Legal for medical and recreational use  

(REUTERS/Rick Wilking)

Connecticut: Decriminalized and legalized for medical use 

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Delaware: Decriminalized

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Florida: Medical use only

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Georgia: Medical use only

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Hawaii: Medical use only

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Idaho: Not legal

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Illinois: Decriminalized

(Photo: VisionsofAmerica/Joe Sohm)

Indiana: Not legal

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Iowa: Medical use only

(Photo: Getty Images)

Kansas: Not legal

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Kentucky: Not legal

(Photo: Dorling Kindersley via Getty Images)

Louisiana: Medical use only

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Maine: Legal for medical and recreational use

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Maryland: Decriminalized

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Massachusetts: Legal

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Michigan: Medical use only

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Minnesota: Decriminalized

(Photo: Getty Images)

Mississippi: Decriminalized on first offense

(Photo: Getty Images)

Missouri: Not legal

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Montana: Medical use only

(Photo: Dennis Macdonald via Getty Images)

Nebraska: Decriminalized on first offense only

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Nevada: Legal

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New Hampshire: Medical use only

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New Jersey: Medical use only

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New Mexico: Medical use only

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New York: Decriminalized unless in public view

(REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton)

North Carolina: Decriminalized

(Photo: Getty Images)

North Dakota: Medical use only

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Ohio: Decriminalized

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Oklahoma: Medical use only

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Oregon: Legal for medical and recreational use

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Pennsylvania: Medical use only

(Photo: Henryk Sadura via Getty Images)

Rhode Island: Decriminalized

(Photo: Shutterstock)

South Carolina: Not legal

(Photo: Shutterstock)

South Dakota: Not legal

(Photo: Dave and Les Jacobs via Getty Images)

Tennessee: Medical use only

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Texas: Medical use only, decriminalized in Houston and Dallas

(Photo: Shutterstock)

Utah: Not legal 

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Vermont: Decriminalized

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Virginia: Not legal

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Washington: Legal for medical and recreational use

(Photo: Shutterstock)

West Virginia: Medical use only

(Photo: Getty Images)

Wisconsin: Medical use only

(Photo: Getty Images)

Wyoming: Not legal 

(Photo: Space Images via Getty Images)

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Further, John Kelly — who Trump has tapped as Secretary of Homeland Security — was formerly the head of the U.S. Southern Command, which coordinates military activities in Central and South America, and plays a prominent role in curbing the flow of illicit substances into Mexico and across the US's southern border.

Kelly has argued that the solution to the drug war isn't to legalize drugs, but to "destroy" drugs before they arrive in the US.

He also claimed that marijuana legalization in US states has sent the wrong message to partner organizations in Latin America.

"The word hypocrite comes into the conversation," Kelly told The Huffington Post in 2014. "We seemingly are not caring about drugs anymore."

"This is looking really bad," Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance, said in a press release about Trump's cabinet picks. "First Sessions for Attorney General, then Price at HHS, and now yet another old-style drug war character for Homeland Security. It looks like Donald Trump is revving up to re-launch the failed drug war."

Though Trump's cabinet will be filled with anti-drug crusaders, it remains to be seen what the president-elect's official policy on marijuana, and the drug war as a whole, will be once he takes office.

"There's two questions here. One, is how influential is Donald Trump in a Trump administration?" Mark Kleiman, a professor of public policy at New York University told Business Insider. "And two, does he actually believe anything?"

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