In an interview with Fox News Sunday, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul said he felt laws on marijuana usage should be more lenient.
Paul was talking with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, who had asked him why Paul had been advocating for more lenient laws on marijuana. Paul answered:
“I don’t want to promote that but I also don’t want to put people in jail who make a mistake. There are a lot of young people who do this and then later on in their twenties they grow up and get married and they quit doing things like this. I don’t want to put them in jail and ruin their lives.”
The senator also pointed out that the last two United States presidents — Barack Obama and George W. Bush — had been linked to marijuana use. Bush allegedly hinted at using marijuana in recordings released in 2005, but did not publicly confirm that he used pot. Obama, in his memoir “Dreams From My Father”, admitted to using marijuana.
“Look, the last two presidents could conceivably have been put in jail for their drug use, and I really think, you know, look what would have happened, it would have ruined their lives,” Paul said. He added that poor kids are often unable to afford good attorneys and, as a result, frequently end up in jail with their lives ruined after being caught using marijuana.
Paul had previously expressed similar beliefs in November, saying that penalties should be relaxed and ultimately determined on a state-by-state basis.
It’s interesting to hear Paul express support for leniency in any sort of drug laws, given the fact that being tough on drugs has been a political necessity at least since the Reagan administration. Also worth noting is this conversation came just five days after Paul won the Conservative Political Action Conference’s straw poll, widely seen as a GOP barometer for the 2016 election. Will his drug policy beliefs take some of the wind out of his sails, or does it mark a wider change in the Republican Party’s views?
– Benjamin Nanamaker, InvestorPolitics Editor
The opinions contained in this column are solely those of the writer.
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