List of United States politicians who admit to cannabis use

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A painting of a man with white hair wearing a white ruffled shirt and dark coat
First President of the United States George Washington, one of the Founding Fathers known to have grown hemp prior to prohibition

Cannabis is a drug and, as hemp, a source for fibers, oil and seed. Prior to its prohibition, U.S. politicians known for growing hemp include some of the nation's Founding Fathers and Presidents. Politicians that have admitted to recreational use of the drug during prohibition include mayors, Governors, members of the House of Representatives, Senators, a Supreme Court Justice and Presidents.

List of politicians who farmed hemp[edit]

Name Lifetime Highest position Party Ref.
Franklin, BenjaminBenjamin Franklin 1706–1790 President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania Independent [1]
Jefferson, ThomasThomas Jefferson 1743–1826 President of the United States Democratic-Republican [2]
Madison, JamesJames Madison 1751–1836 President of the United States Democratic-Republican [3]
Washington, GeorgeGeorge Washington 1732–1799 President of the United States Independent [2]
Parties

      Democratic-Republican       Whig       Democratic       Republican       Independent

During prohibition[edit]

In the U.S., cannabis was initially grown for industrial reasons, though recreational use spread quickly during the 20th century. Harry J. Anslinger, Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, responded to political pressure to ban marijuana at a nationwide level. The Marihuana Tax Act of 1937 created an expensive excise tax, and included penalty provisions and elaborate rules of enforcement to which marijuana, cannabis, or hemp handlers were subject. Mandatory sentencing and increased punishment were enacted when the United States Congress passed the Boggs Act of 1952 and the Narcotics Control Act of 1956.[4]

During the counterculture of the 1960s, attitudes towards marijuana and drug abuse policy changed as use became widespread among "white middle-class college students".[5] In Leary v. United States (1969), the Supreme Court held the Marihuana Tax Act to be unconstitutional since it violated the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution privilege against self-incrimination. In response, Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act as Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970, which repealed the Marihuana Tax Act.[6] In 1972, the National Commission on Marijuana and Drug Abuse concluded that marijuana should be decriminalized, but that public use and driving while intoxicated should remain illegal. By the end of the decade, several states had decriminalized the drug, while many others weakened their laws against cannabis use.

However, a wave of conservatism during the 1980s allowed President Ronald Reagan to accelerate the War on Drugs during his presidency, prompting anti-drug campaigns such as the "Just Say No" campaign of First Lady Nancy Reagan. Federal penalties for cultivation, possession, or transfer of marijuana were increased by the Comprehensive Crime Control Act (1984), the Anti-Drug Abuse Act (1986), and the Anti-Drug Abuse Amendment Act (1988).[7] Since California voters passed the Proposition 215 in 1996, which legalized medical cannabis, several states have followed suit. However, United States v. Oakland Cannabis Buyers' Cooperative (2001) rejected the common-law medical necessity defense to crimes enacted under the Controlled Substances Act because Congress concluded that cannabis has "no currently accepted medical use", and Gonzales v. Raich (2005) concluded that the Commerce Clause of the Constitution allowed the federal government to ban the use of cannabis, including medical use. Today, cannabis remains classified as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act, and possession is punishable by up to one year in jail and a minimum fine of $1,000 for a first conviction.[8]

Use by politicians during prohibition[edit]

Politicians that have admitted to recreational use during prohibition include mayors, Governors, members of the House of Representatives, Senators, and Presidents.

Name Lifetime Highest position Party Ref.
Babbitt, BruceBruce Babbitt b. 1938 Governor of Arizona, Secretary of the Interior Democratic [9]
Bloomberg, MichaelMichael Bloomberg b. 1942 Mayor of New York City Independent [10]
Bradley, BillBill Bradley b. 1943 Senator from New Jersey Democratic [11]
Bush, George W.George W. Bush b. 1946 President of the United States Republican [12]
Conway, JackJack Conway b. 1969 Attorney General of Kentucky Democratic [13]
Cellucci, PaulPaul Cellucci 1948–2013 Governor of Massachusetts Republican [14]
Chafee, LincolnLincoln Chafee b. 1953 Senator from Rhode Island, Governor of Rhode Island Independent [15]
Chiles, LawtonLawton Chiles 1930–1998 Senator from Florida, Governor of Florida Democratic [16]
Clinton, BillBill Clinton b. 1946 President of the United States Democratic [17]
Cohen, SteveSteve Cohen b. 1949 Member of the House of Representatives Democratic [18]
Cuomo, AndrewAndrew Cuomo b. 1957 Governor of New York Democratic [19]
Dean, HowardHoward Dean b. 1948 Governor of Vermont, Chair of the Democratic National Committee Democratic [20]
DeNucci, JosephJoseph DeNucci b. 1939 Auditor of Massachusetts Democratic [14]
Donohue, MaryMary Donohue b. 1947 Lieutenant Governor of New York Republican [21]
Edwards, JohnJohn Edwards b. 1953 Senator from North Carolina Democratic [20]
Gingrich, NewtNewt Gingrich b. 1943 Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Republican [9]
Gore, AlAl Gore b. 1948 Vice President of the United States Democratic [22]
Johnson, GaryGary Johnson b. 1953 Governor of New Mexico Libertarian [23]
Kennedy II, Joseph P.Joseph P. Kennedy II b. 1952 Member of the House of Representatives Democratic [14]
Kerry, JohnJohn Kerry b. 1943 Senator from Massachusetts Democratic [20]
Koch, EdEd Koch 1924–2013 Member of the House of Representatives, Mayor of New York City Democratic [24]
Lamm, RichardRichard Lamm b. 1935 Governor of Colorado Democratic [25]
Mack III, ConnieConnie Mack III b. 1940 Senator from Florida Republican [16]
McSlarrow, Kyle E.Kyle E. McSlarrow b. 1960 Deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy Republican [26]
Miller, JohnJohn Miller b. 1938 Member of the House of Representatives Republican [27]
Molinari, SusanSusan Molinari b. 1958 Member of the House of Representatives Republican [28]
Moran, JimJim Moran b. 1945 Member of the House of Representatives Democratic [26]
Murphy, EvelynEvelyn Murphy b. 1940 Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Democratic [14]
Neal, RichardRichard Neal b. 1949 Member of the House of Representatives Democratic [14]
Obama, BarackBarack Obama b. 1961 President of the United States Democratic [29]
Palin, SarahSarah Palin b. 1964 Governor of Alaska Republican [30][dead link]
Pataki, GeorgeGeorge Pataki b. 1945 Governor of New York Republican [19]
Paterson, DavidDavid Paterson b. 1954 Governor of New York Democratic [31]
Pattison, Edward W.Edward W. Pattison 1932–1990 Member of the House of Representatives Democratic [32]
Pell, ClaiborneClaiborne Pell b.1918-2009 Senator from Rhode Island Democratic [9]
Rohrabacher, DanaDana Rohrabacher b.1947 Member of the House of Representatives Republican [33]
Santorum, RickRick Santorum b. 1958 Senator from Pennsylvania Republican [34]
Schwarzenegger, ArnoldArnold Schwarzenegger b. 1947 Governor of California Republican [35]
Scranton III, WilliamWilliam Scranton III b. 1947 Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania Republican [36]
Thomas, ClarenceClarence Thomas b. 1948 Supreme Court Justice Republican [37]
Thompson, BillBill Thompson b. 1953 New York City Comptroller Democratic [38]
Torkildsen, Peter G.Peter G. Torkildsen b. 1958 Member of the House of Representatives Republican [14]
Ventura, JesseJesse Ventura b. 1951 Governor of Minnesota Independent [39]
Parties

      Democratic       Republican       Independent       Libertarian

See also[edit]

References[edit]

General
Specific
  1. ^ Kelly, Annie (September 27, 2006). "Hemp is at hand". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved November 21, 2009. 
  2. ^ a b Wren, Christopher (April 1, 1999). "U.S. Farmers Covet a Forbidden Crop". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved November 21, 2009. 
  3. ^ Wasserman, Harvey (January 29, 2009). "This President's Day, Remember that George Washington Raised Hemp & Probably Smoked it". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 21, 2009. 
  4. ^ Schlosser 2003, p. 21
  5. ^ Schlosser 2003, p. 22
  6. ^ Pub. L. No. 91–513, 84 Stat. 1236 (October 27, 1973).
  7. ^ Schlosser 2003, p. 25
  8. ^ Tschorn, Adam (August 30, 2009). "Marijuana's new high life". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  9. ^ a b c "Gore and Babbitt also confess they smoked marijuana". The Gainesville Sun. The New York Times Company. November 8, 1987. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  10. ^ "NY Mayor appears in marijuana ads". BBC News. April 9, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  11. ^ Barabak, Mark (August 21, 1999). "To Err, Bush May Find in the '90s, Is to Be Forgiven". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. p. 2. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Bush admits to smoking pot in taped discussion". Taipei Times. Associated Press. February 21, 2005. Retrieved January 20, 2012. 
  13. ^ Estep, Bill; Jack Brammer (October 14, 2010). "Rand Paul accused of using marijuana in college; Jack Conway admits he tried it". Lexington Herald-Leader. The McClatchy Company. Retrieved October 16, 2010. 
  14. ^ a b c d e f "Several politicians admit marijuana use". The Register-Guard. Guard Publishing. March 5, 1990. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  15. ^ Ayres, B. Drummond (August 25, 1999). "Political Briefing; In Rhode Island, A Decision to Tell All". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  16. ^ a b "Chiles follows Mack, admits smoking pot". The Gainesville Sun. The New York Times Company. November 10, 1987. Retrieved September 30, 2009. [dead link]
  17. ^ "Clinton Tried Marijuana as a Student, He Says". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. March 30, 1992. Retrieved September 30, 2009. [dead link]
  18. ^ Walker, Henry (October 2, 1997). "Desperately Seeking the News". Nashville Scene. Village Voice Media. p. 1. Retrieved January 14, 2010. 
  19. ^ a b Dewan, Shaila (August 6, 2002). "Cuomo Urges Repeal of Rockefeller Drug Laws and Offers New Sentencing Plan". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  20. ^ a b c Smith, Jordan (November 14, 2003). "Dems on Drugs: Any Questions?". The Austin Chronicle. Austin Chronicle Corporation. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  21. ^ Schwartzman, Paul (July 30, 1998). "Cheering for George Mary Donohue takes spotlight to win place in Pataki's shadow". Daily News. Mortimer Zuckerman. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  22. ^ Ellison, Michael (February 7, 2000). "Gore was avid pot smoker - book". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  23. ^ "Should the Government Legalize Drugs?". CNN. February 22, 2001. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  24. ^ "Mayor Koch admits he's tried marijuana". Boca Raton News. South Florida Media Company. November 13, 1980. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  25. ^ "Lamm Says He, Too, Tried Marijuana". Associated Press. August 22, 1996. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  26. ^ a b "In Virginia, a Child's Illness Quiets a Congressional Campaign". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. August 29, 1994. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  27. ^ Blumenthal, Les (November 17, 1987). "Only one area lawmaker admits pot use". The Spokesman-Review. Cowles Publishing Company. Retrieved December 1, 2009. [dead link]
  28. ^ "Molinari Says Yes (Or No?), She Inhaled". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. August 9, 1996. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  29. ^ Seelye, Katharine (October 24, 2006). "Barack Obama, asked about drug history, admits he inhaled". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  30. ^ Lerer, Lisa (August 29, 2008). "Palin: She Inhaled". CBS News. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  31. ^ "David Paterson Admits Using Cocaine, Marijuana In His 20s". The Huffington Post. March 24, 2008. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  32. ^ "Politician Fights Pot Charge". Star-Banner. The New York Times Company. October 4, 1978. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  33. ^ Rohrabacher, Dana (May 13, 2013). "Dana Rohrabacher: The colossal failure of marijuana prohibition". Orange County Register. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  34. ^ "9 pols who talked pot". Politico. April 20, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  35. ^ "Schwarzenegger: Calif. needs pot debate". MSNBC. May 6, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  36. ^ "Getting high on marijuana issue". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Block Communications. November 28, 1987. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  37. ^ "Thomas Smoked Marijuana But Retains Bush Support". The New York Times. July 11, 1991. Retrieved April 18, 2013. 
  38. ^ Lisberg, Adam (August 27, 2009). "Bill Thompson and Tony Avella square off, gang up on Mayor Bloomberg in 1st mayoral debate". Daily News. Mortimer Zuckerman. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  39. ^ "Heavyweight Guv Wins Plaudits". CBS News. July 7, 1999. Retrieved November 21, 2009.