List of United States politicians who have acknowledged 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 plant 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 who have admitted to recreational use of the drug during prohibition include mayors, governors, members of the House of Representatives, Senators and presidents.

List of politicians who farmed hemp[edit]

Name Lifetime Highest position Party Ref.
Benjamin Franklin 1706–1790 President of the Supreme Executive Council of Pennsylvania Independent [1]
Thomas Jefferson 1743–1826 President of the United States Democratic-Republican [2]
James Madison 1751–1836 President of the United States Democratic-Republican [3]
George Washington 1732–1799 President of the United States Independent [2]
Henry Clay 1777–1852 United States Secretary of State, U.S. Senator from Kentucky and Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Democratic-Republican, National Republican and Whig [4]
Parties

  Democratic-Republican   Whig   Democratic   Republican   Independent

During prohibition[edit]

In the U.S., cannabis was initially grown for industrial reasons, though it quickly became a staple medicinal product in the early 19th century and recreational use became more prevalent during the 20th century[5]. 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.[6]

During the counterculture of the 1960s, attitudes towards marijuana and drug abuse policy changed as marijuana use among "white middle-class college students" became widespread.[7] 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.[8] 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).[9] 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 Article I 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.[10]

Use by politicians during prohibition[edit]

Politicians that have reported using cannabis during prohibition include mayors, governors, members of the House of Representatives, Senators and presidents.

Name Lifetime Highest position Party Ref.
Rob Astorino b. 1967 Westchester County Executive Republican [11]
Bruce Babbitt b. 1938 Governor of Arizona, Secretary of the Interior Democratic [12]
Michael Bloomberg b. 1942 Mayor of New York City Independent [13]
Bill Bradley b. 1943 Senator from New Jersey Democratic [14]
George W. Bush b. 1946 President of the United States Republican [15]
Jeb Bush b. 1953 Governor of Florida Republican [16]
Jack Conway b. 1969 Attorney General of Kentucky Democratic [17]
Paul Cellucci 1948–2013 Governor of Massachusetts Republican [18]
Lincoln Chafee b. 1953 Senator from Rhode Island, Governor of Rhode Island Democratic [19]
Lawton Chiles 1930–1998 Senator from Florida, Governor of Florida Democratic [20]
Bill Clinton b. 1946 President of the United States Democratic [21]
Steve Cohen b. 1949 Representative from Tennessee Democratic [22]
Andrew Cuomo b. 1957 Governor of New York Democratic [23]
Howard Dean b. 1948 Governor of Vermont, Chair of the Democratic National Committee Democratic [24]
Joseph DeNucci b. 1939 Auditor of Massachusetts Democratic [18]
Bill de Blasio b. 1961 Mayor of New York City Democratic [25]
Mary Donohue b. 1947 Lieutenant Governor of New York Republican [26]
John Edwards b. 1953 Senator from North Carolina Democratic [24]
Newt Gingrich b. 1943 Speaker of the United States House of Representatives Republican [12]
Al Gore b. 1948 Vice President of the United States Democratic [27]
Maggie Hassan b. 1958 Governor of New Hampshire, Senator from New Hampshire Democratic [28]
Gary Johnson b. 1953 Governor of New Mexico Libertarian [29]
John Kasich b. 1952 Governor of Ohio Republican [30]
Joseph P. Kennedy II b. 1952 Representative from Massachusetts Democratic [18]
John Kerry b. 1943 Secretary of State Democratic [24]
Ed Koch 1924–2013 Mayor of New York City Democratic [31]
Richard Lamm b. 1935 Governor of Colorado Democratic [32]
Connie Mack III b. 1940 Senator from Florida Republican [20]
Kyle E. McSlarrow b. 1960 Deputy Secretary of the Department of Energy Republican [33]
John Miller 1938–2017 Representative from Washington Republican [34]
Susan Molinari b. 1958 Representative from New York Republican [35]
Jim Moran b. 1945 Representative from Virginia Democratic [33]
Evelyn Murphy b. 1940 Lieutenant Governor of Massachusetts Democratic [18]
Phil Murphy b. 1957 Governor of New Jersey Democratic [36]
Richard Neal b. 1949 Representative from Massachusetts Democratic [18]
Barack Obama b. 1961 President of the United States Democratic [37]
Sarah Palin b. 1964 Governor of Alaska Republican [38]
George Pataki b. 1945 Governor of New York Republican [23]
David Paterson b. 1954 Governor of New York Democratic [39]
Edward W. Pattison 1932–1990 Representative from New York Democratic [40]
Claiborne Pell 1918–2009 Senator from Rhode Island Democratic [12]
Dana Rohrabacher b. 1947 Representative from California Republican [41]
Bernie Sanders b. 1941 Senator from Vermont Independent [42]
Rick Santorum b. 1958 Senator from Pennsylvania Republican [43]
Arnold Schwarzenegger b. 1947 Governor of California Republican [44]
William Scranton III b. 1947 Lieutenant Governor of Pennsylvania Republican [45]
Bill Thompson b. 1953 New York City Comptroller Democratic [46]
Peter G. Torkildsen b. 1958 Representative from Massachusetts Republican [18]
Jesse Ventura b. 1951 Governor of Minnesota Independent [47]
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. ^ Heidler, David S.; Heidler, Jeanne T. (2010), Henry Clay: The Essential American, Random House, ISBN 9781588369956, OCLC 326531524 
  5. ^ http://www.scielo.br/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S1516-44462006000200015
  6. ^ Schlosser 2003, p. 21
  7. ^ Schlosser 2003, p. 22
  8. ^ Pub. L. No. 91–513, 84 Stat. 1236 (October 27, 1973).
  9. ^ Schlosser 2003, p. 25
  10. ^ Tschorn, Adam (August 30, 2009). "Marijuana's new high life". Los Angeles Times. Tribune Company. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  11. ^ Jimmy Vielkind, Rob Astorino 'smoked a couple of joints' in college, Politico New York (March 7, 2014).
  12. ^ 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. 
  13. ^ "NY Mayor appears in marijuana ads". BBC News. April 9, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  14. ^ 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. 
  15. ^ "Bush admits to smoking pot in taped discussion". Taipei Times. Associated Press. February 21, 2005. Retrieved January 20, 2012. 
  16. ^ Miller, Jake (January 31, 2015). "Jeb Bush is a hypocrite about marijuana, Rand Paul says". CBS News. Retrieved February 8, 2015. 
  17. ^ 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. 
  18. ^ a b c d e f "Several politicians admit marijuana use". The Register-Guard. Guard Publishing. March 5, 1990. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ a b "Chiles follows Mack, admits smoking pot". The Gainesville Sun. The New York Times Company. November 10, 1987. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  21. ^ "Clinton Tried Marijuana as a Student, He Says". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. March 30, 1992. Archived from the original on 2010-02-24. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  22. ^ Walker, Henry (October 2, 1997). "Desperately Seeking the News". Nashville Scene. Village Voice Media. p. 1. Retrieved January 14, 2010. 
  23. ^ 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. 
  24. ^ a b c Smith, Jordan (November 14, 2003). "Dems on Drugs: Any Questions?". The Austin Chronicle. Austin Chronicle Corporation. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  25. ^ Jillian Jorgensen, Bill de Blasio Says He Hasn't Smoked Weed Since College, New York Observer (November 19, 2015).
  26. ^ Schwartzman, Paul (July 30, 1998). "Cheering for George Mary Donohue takes spotlight to win place in Pataki's shadow". Daily News. Mortimer Zuckerman. Archived from the original on March 25, 2010. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  27. ^ Ellison, Michael (February 7, 2000). "Gore was avid pot smoker - book". The Guardian. Guardian Media Group. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  28. ^ Gov. Hassan says she smoked marijuana while in college, New Hampshire Union Leader (February 10, 2014)
  29. ^ "Should the Government Legalize Drugs?". CNN. February 22, 2001. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  30. ^ Khalil AlHajal, John Kasich annoyed by question on whether he's smoked marijuana, MLive (March 8, 2016).
  31. ^ "Mayor Koch admits he's tried marijuana". Boca Raton News. South Florida Media Company. November 13, 1980. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  32. ^ "Lamm Says He, Too, Tried Marijuana". Associated Press. August 22, 1996. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  33. ^ 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. 
  34. ^ Blumenthal, Les (November 17, 1987). "Only one area lawmaker admits pot use". The Spokesman-Review. Cowles Publishing Company. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  35. ^ "Molinari Says Yes (Or No?), She Inhaled". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. August 9, 1996. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  36. ^ "NJ governor Phil Murphy says he tried pot 'once or twice'". New York Post. May 3, 2018. Retrieved May 6, 2018. 
  37. ^ 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. 
  38. ^ Lerer, Lisa (August 29, 2008). "Palin: She Inhaled". CBS News. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  39. ^ "David Paterson Admits Using Cocaine, Marijuana In His 20s". The Huffington Post. March 24, 2008. Retrieved November 6, 2009. 
  40. ^ "Politician Fights Pot Charge". Star-Banner. The New York Times Company. October 4, 1978. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  41. ^ Rohrabacher, Dana (May 13, 2013). "Dana Rohrabacher: The colossal failure of marijuana prohibition". Orange County Register. Retrieved March 14, 2014. 
  42. ^ "Bernie Sanders on Hillary Clinton: 'Would she be interested in being my vice president?'". Yahoo News. June 1, 2015. Retrieved August 16, 2015. 
  43. ^ "9 pols who talked pot". Politico. April 20, 2012. Retrieved January 22, 2014. 
  44. ^ "Schwarzenegger: Calif. needs pot debate". MSNBC. May 6, 2009. Retrieved September 30, 2009. 
  45. ^ "Getting high on marijuana issue". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Block Communications. November 28, 1987. Retrieved December 1, 2009. 
  46. ^ 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. 
  47. ^ "Heavyweight Guv Wins Plaudits".