Politicians’ personal experiences with marijuana have a long and evolving history in America. From Bill Clinton’s famous claim that he smoked marijuana but didn’t inhale, to George W. Bush admitting to smoking weed in his youth in a private (recorded) conversation, the examples are plentiful.
Regardless of how the information becomes public, marijuana in politicians’ personal lives can be a tricky path to navigate. This is understandable, as these politicians either currently or have previously had a hand in setting public policy, which as it stands still upholds a federal prohibition on marijuana. So the idea of someone who has experimented with marijuana but upholds its illegal status is, well, curious to say the least.
Barack Obama was open about his past marijuana use in his memoir, but many other politicians have been vague and apologetic about their past run-ins with Mary Jane. In fact, several politicians have become quite conservative since smoking weed, and a few even condemn its use and existence on American soil.
While many political figures have admitted to smoking weed, here are a few that have admitted to marijuana use while opposing its use for others.
Sarah Palin is back in the news these days, as she is running for an open seat in the House of Representatives this midterm election. Years before this current election cycle, Palin admitted to smoking marijuana. She dismissed the action by saying she did not care for it, but admitted to inhaling (unlike Clinton). Her reasoning for not supporting marijuana legalization back when she ran for Vice President, even after smoking herself was, “she doesn’t support legalizing the drug, fearing the message it would send to her five children,” according to CBS News.
Ted Cruz is used to being accused of hypocrisy at this point in his career. From comments on gun violence to a trip to tropical Mexico when his state had frozen over, this man is no stranger to controversy. Still, his stance on marijuana and his own history with it are nothing short of contradictory.
In regards to his marijuana use in his youth, a spokesman for Cruz blamed it on lack of judgment as a youth and said, “When he was a teenager, he foolishly experimented with marijuana. It was a mistake, and he’s never tried it since.’Teenagers are often known for their lack of judgment, and Sen. Cruz was no exception,” according to The Daily Mail.
As a politician, Cruz has not made any attempts to legalize marijuana in Texas in his nearly 10 years as Senator.
In fact, according to Forbes, he has “failed to sponsor any of the bills that would allow states to set their own marijuana policies, from the CARERS Act to the aptly-named STATES Act.”
Former Mayor and Presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg has admitted to smoking marijuana, but was very vocal about his views about legalization. Not only did Bloomberg oppose legalizing recreational marijuana for fear of its consequences on New York, but also went so far as to call medical marijuana “one of the greatest hoaxes of all time,” on a WOR-AM radio show, as reported by The New York Post.
Few politicians have had as hard a line on drugs like marijuana as Newt Gingrich. In fact, at one point he championed the “Drug Importer Death Penalty Act of 1996.” If this bill had passed, those convicted of importing drugs (just a few ounces of marijuana for example) could get life in prison, or the death penalty if they were repeat offenders. Just when you think the idea of this bill is already crazy enough, prepare to have your mind blown by his history with marijuana.
“What makes the bill even more amazing is that Gingrich himself is a confessed pot smoker. When he was young, he said, experimenting with drugs “was a sign we were alive and in graduate school in that era.” Wrote Ezra Klien for The Washington Post. One could argue it is a bit dangerous for a man to want to execute people for smuggling in a substance he himself had partaken in. Perhaps this is why he never had a successful presidential bid.