Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said Sunday that President Obama and former President George W. Bush “got lucky” by not being arrested for smoking marijuana as young adults.
Arguing against mandatory minimum sentencing for pot use, Paul said that a marijuana-related arrest for either Obama or Bush could have ruined their lives.
“Look what would have happened. It would have ruined their lives. They got lucky. But a lot of poor kids, particularly in the inner city, don’t get lucky. They don’t have good attorneys. They go to jail for these things. And I think it’s a big mistake.”
Paul said he was not in favor of using marijuana, because it makes people less productive. But he said he doesn’t support punishing people who use the drug with jail time.
“I don’t want to encourage people to do it. I think, even, marijuana is a bad thing to do,” Paul said. “I think it takes away your incentive to work and show up and do the things you should be doing. I don’t think it’s a good idea. 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 20s, they grow up, they get married, and they quit doing things like this. I don’t want to put them in jail for the rest of their lives.”
Soon after announcing his bid for the presidency, Obama admitted to reporters in 2006 to smoking marijuana as a teenager. And one year before that, a series of secretly recorded conversations between Bush and a former adviser to his father documented the former Texas governor admitting to trying marijuana as a younger man.
Former President Clinton has said he did not inhale when presented with marijuana in his younger days.
— Updated at 10:41 a.m.