Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) on Wednesday criticized people who applaud CVS Caremark for dropping tobacco sales — but applaud efforts to make marijuana sales legal.
In a message on Twitter, Rubio suggested there's a contradiction in applauding CVS on tobacco while cheering the legalization of pot.
Rubio's comments suggest he sees it as hypocritical to support both positions.
His comments seemed to be aimed at Democrats in particular, who have applauded CVS’s decision throughout the day. Democrats, in general, have been more open to marijuana legalization than their Republican counterparts as well.
Rubio’s comments came after CVS, the nation’s second largest pharmacy, announced it would discontinue selling cigarettes, cigars and chewing tobacco in its stores in order to bolster its reputation as a healthcare provider.
President Obama applauded the decision earlier Wednesday, saying it sets a powerful example in helping to reduce smoking-related deaths from cancer and heart disease.
Obama is a former smoker who quit the habit after settling into the White House. He has admitted to using marijuana as well as a younger man and has expressed a willingness to let marijuana legalization go forward in some states.
In a recent interview with The New Yorker, he said he viewed his youthful pot smoking as “a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life.”
He added that he did not think it is more dangerous than alcohol, but has told his daughters it is a waste of time and not very healthy.
In the same interview, he said it was important to let legalization go though in some states to avoid unfair penalties for users, including the disproportionate number of arrests of minorities caught with drugs.
Last year, the Justice Department told Washington and Colorado — the two states that have legalized the drug — it would not take action to have the laws overturned, while also maintaining it would not prioritize prosecution of recreational use.
Rubio has been an opponent of legalization but has expressed openness to a Florida state ballot initiative to legalize the use of the drug for medical purposes.
“I have qualms about that proposal, I really do, but I probably need to learn more about it,” Rubio said in an interview last month. “The broader issue of whether we should be legalizing it is something I'm pretty firm about. I don’t think legalizing marijuana or even decriminalizing it is the right decision for our country."