Presidential Hopefuls on Pot

By Ellen Komp, June 1, 2007


According to a blogger named Syrinx, in the early morning hours of May 25, C-SPAN televised an interaction between John Edwards, campaigning in New Hampshire, and "a young, well-groomed fellow, an advocate for medical marijuana, [who] asked Edwards about the issue. Edwards seemed a little evasive and even passive-aggressive toward the young man."


So far, it looks like another campaign wherein the only advocates for marijuana legalization will be third-party candidates, even though several of the top contenders have smoked pot.


According to Edward Klein's new book The Truth About Hillary, she smoked pot while a student at Wellesley with her boyfriend David Rupert, and met Bill Clinton at a commune called Cozy Beach that was affiliated with Ken Kesey's Hog Farm. "During their remaining time at Yale, Bill and Hillary often grooved the night away at Cozy Beach, spinning the latest Jefferson Airplane platters and eating Kris Olson's hashish brownies," Klein wrote. During President Bill Clinton's last week in office, he told Rolling Stone magazine he thought marijuana ought to be legalized. But in a Senate debate in Manhattan on Oct 8, 2000, Hillary took the middle road, advocating Drug Courts and weekly drug testing for those with an "addiction."


John McCain recently said, "[Barak] Obama wouldn't know the difference between an RPG and a bong." Obama admitted to trying cocaine and pot in high school in a memoir written 11 years ago, Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance. Apparently he tried it more than once when he wrote, "I had discovered that it didn't make any difference whether you smoked reefer in the white classmate's sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you'd met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids who had dropped out of school and now spent most of their time looking for an excuse to brawl....if the high didn't solve whatever it was that was getting you down, it could at least help you laugh at the world's ongoing folly and see through all the hypocrisy and bullshit and cheap moralism." In an interview during his Senate race two years ago, Obama said he admitted using drugs because he thought it was important for "young people who are already in circumstances that are far more difficult than mine to know that you can make mistakes and still recover."


John Edwards and DNC Chairman Howard Dean joined John Kerry by answering "Yes" to the question "Which of you are ready to admit to having used marijuana in the past?" at the "Rock the Vote" debate in 2003. Though Dennis Kucinich answered "No" he added, "But I think it ought to be decriminalized." The incident lead to the hilarious Capitol Steps song, "Green Green Grass At Home"


Edwards is on record favoring coming down hard on drug  "dealers," but also advocates "treating" users instead of incarcerating them. While governor of Vermont, Dean he blocked a medical marijuana bill; in contrast, dark horse Bill Richardson of New Mexico just signed a medical marijuana bill into law. Edwards's voting record is rated B- by but he can't match Republican contender Ron Paul, a long time drug war opponent who has introduced a bill to legalize hemp farming in the US.


According to, Mitt Romney has no stance whatsoever on drugs and McCain is particularly hawkish on them. Former NYC Mayor Rudy Guiliani is certainly no friend to marijuana. In 1992, when Guiliani took office, New York police arrested 720 pot smokers. But the year he left office, 59,945 people, including 19 at a memorial for John Lennon and eight members of an East Village medical marijuana co-op, were arrested in the Big Apple, many of them in public parks. Read more


Current NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg, who is considering buying his way into the race, was asked during his mayorial campaign if he'd smoked pot. "You bet I did, and I enjoyed it" was the response, leading to an ad campaign by NORML. Bloomberg may still be smoking: he recently put forth a five-year plan to convert New York's 13,000 yellow cabs to hybrid vehicles.


Should Newt Gingrich decide to run, he may have to answer for the fact that he co-introduced legislation to allow marijuana's use as a medicine at the Federal level on September 16, 1981. On March 19, 1982 he wrote in the Journal of the American Medical Association, "We believe licensed physicians are competent to employ marijuana, and patients have a right to obtain marijuana legally, under medical supervision, from a regulated source. . . . Federal policies do not reflect a factual or balanced assessment of marijuana's use as a medicant."

Gingrich has admitted that he smoked marijuana when he was in college. He stated in 1995 article from The Economist, "That was a sign we were alive and in graduate school in that era." One year later he attacked Clinton press secretary Mike McCurry for making the same admission, and charged without substantiation that one quarter of the White House staff used drugs. "See, when I smoked pot it was illegal, but not immoral. Now, it is illegal AND immoral. The law didn't change, only the morality," Gingrich said. "That's why you get to go to jail and I don't. Any questions?" Yes, many.

In an era where Bob Barr, the former Georgia congressman who brought forward the so-called "Barr amendment" blocking the District of Columbia's voter-approved medical marijuana law, is now a lobbyist for the pro-pot Marijuana Policy Project, anything can happen.



Copyright 2007

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