Palin and the Pot Question


Here is Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, John McCain's vice presidential pick, on drugs:

Palin doesn't support legalizing marijuana, worrying about the message it would send to her four kids. But when it comes to cracking down on drugs, she says methamphetamines are the greater threat and should have a higher priority.

Palin said she has smoked marijuana—remember, it was legal under state law, she said, even if illegal under U.S. law—but says she didn't like it and doesn't smoke it now.

"I can't claim a Bill Clinton and say that I never inhaled."

This was a year ago, when Palin was challenging then-Gov. Frank Murkowski for the Republican nomination. Although her child-centric defense of prohibition is standard stuff, her pot smoking admission is indeed a step up from Clinton's. (The former president, you may recall, not only claimed he didn't inhale when he tried marijuana at Oxford but initially obfuscated by saying he had never broken the drug laws of this country.) Palin's "I smoked it but didn't enjoy it" scores a bit lower on the candor meter than Barack Obama's "I smoked it and liked it but now regret it." (And neither is as encouraging as "I smoked it and liked it and still do" or "I never smoked it, but I don't think people should be arrested for it.") But compared to Murkowski, an anti-pot alarmist who pushed through a bill that purported to recriminalize private possession of marijuana, Palin sounds enlightened. Because the Alaska Supreme Court ruled in 1975 that the state constitution's privacy clause bars the government from punishing people for possessing small quantities of marijuana in the home for personal use, the courts so far have rejected Murkowski's recriminalization law (which was based on the premise that today's pot is much more dangerous than the marijuana available in the '70s). So Palin could continue to smoke pot in the privacy of her home without fear of arrest, barring a federal raid on the governor's residence. It's a good thing for McCain, who can't even tolerate the idea of marijuana as a medicine for desperately ill people, that she never really liked it.

In February I suggested what Obama should have learned from his youthful drug use.