A new Boston Globe profile on Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush’s years at the prestigious boarding school Phillips Academy reports on his frequent pot-smoking during his high school years. Bush admitted to the Globe that “I drank alcohol and I smoked marijuana when I was at Andover. It was pretty common.” And classmates told the Globe he smoked a “notable amount of pot.”
But in his political life, Bush has opposed marijuana and drug reform laws that ease criminal punishment for drug use. Just this past summer, Bush “strongly” urged Floridians to vote against a medical marijuana ballot initiative.
“Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism, and a desirable place to raise a family or retire,” he said in August. “Allowing large-scale marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts.”
Bush did not make statements this summer about other drug policy positions, including on decriminalizing or legalizing recreational marijuana. But during his term as Florida governor, Bush also opposed treatment instead of jail for nonviolent drug users, and backed mandatory minimum sentences for drug possession offenses, even as his daughter faced jail time over a drug rehabilitation relapse.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) jumped on the Boston Globe report this week to call Bush a hypocrite. “This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do,” Paul told the Hill. “You would think he’d have a little more understanding, then.”
Paul’s response sets up marijuana and drug policy as a campaign issue in the 2016 presidential race. In addition to Paul, several other Republicans rumored to be considering a run have also favored more liberal marijuana policies than Bush thus far. Gov. Rick Perry, for example, has supported marijuana decriminalization. And Chris Christie has called for an end to the war on drugs, supporting some but not other medical marijuana laws in his state.
On the Democratic side, Hillary Clinton has expressed mixed views on marijuana, saying she is open to trying state legalization, but would like to see more evidence on the benefits of medical marijuana.