Drug Policy

How Wild Were Mitch Daniels' Oats?


Last week I noted that Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels had attributed his youthful pot smoking to "the unfortunate confluence of my wild oats period and America's libertine apogee." I pointed out that 1970, when Daniels was arrested, was not the "apogee" of pot smoking by American college students, which came nearly a decade later (judging from the federal government's survey data). More to the point, since Daniels was trying to mitigate his own behavior while calling for a crackdown on people who do the same thing, marijuana consumption is about as common today as it was during his "wild oats period." A 1970 Gallup poll found that 43 percent of college students had tried pot, while a 2002 Gallup poll found that 46 percent of 18-to-29-year-olds had. The numbers for college-age Americans in the latest National Survey on Drug Use and Health are similar. So to the extent that the "everybody was doing it" excuse applies to Daniels, it applies to current pot smokers as well.

Daniels' impression that pot smoking was ubiquitous at Princeton in 1970 makes sense given the big surge in marijuana use by college students that seems to have occurred during his junior year, as recounted by the drug researchers Lana D. Harrison, Michael Backenheimer, and James A. Inciardi in a 1995 paper:

The earliest survey data on marijuana use in the U.S. was obtained through a Gallup Poll in the spring of 1967. The nationally-based telephone poll of college students found a 5% lifetime prevalence of marijuana use. Two years later, this proportion jumped to 22%. A Gallup Poll of the adult population in the summer of 1969 found a 4% lifetime prevalence, with 12% of those in the 21-29 year old age group, 3% in the 30-49 year old group and only 1% of those aged 50 and over reporting ever trying marijuana. In the fall of 1970, another Gallup Poll of college students found 43% reported trying marijuana, with 39% reporting use in the past year and 28% reporting use in the past 30 days. By 1971, over half (51%) of the nation's college students reported lifetime use, and annual and thirty day prevalence rates stood at 41% and 30% respectively.

I'll have more on the drug policy positions of pot smokers who become politicians in my column tomorrow.

NEXT: Krugman's Cruel Budget Cutting Myths

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  1. Threadjack:


    IL Attorney General wants to make FOID (Firearm Owner’s ID) card holders public knowledge

    1. Wow. They really didn’t like the McDonald decision, did they? Will this be applied to law enforcement and public officials as well? Does Rahm Emmanuel own a firearm?

      1. Does Rahm Emmanuel own a firearm?

        Of course not. He has people for that.

        1. People who don’t like nosey wise-guys. You know what happens to nosey guys, don’t ya Jake?

    2. But can they force them not to live near schools or other areas where children might congregate?

  2. America’s libertine apogee refers to more than marijuana. It is the end of the golden age of hippie sex and the beginning of the golden age of herpes.

  3. How Wild Were Mitch Daniels’ Oats?

    This looks like a job for Darryl Hall! Or A. Wilford Brimley.

  4. America’s libertine apogee refers to more than marijuana.

    Shhhhh…nuance confuses us.

  5. I’m not sure why you’re burying the lead that he didn’t just smoke pot, he also used LSD.

    1. Man Stoner: Hey, hey don’t take those, man.

      Pedro: …Wha?

      Man Stoner: I almost gave you the wrong shit, man.

      Pedro: Hey, man, I already took ’em, man.

      Man Stoner: [laughing in astonishment] Hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo hoo…

      Pedro: Hey, whaddaya mean “ho ho ho ho ho”?

      Man Stoner: Oh… HU-WOW, MAN!

      Pedro: Hey, what was in that shit, man?

      Man Stoner: You just did the most acid I’ve ever seen anybody eat in my life!

  6. And that sunnovabitch still owes me for several dime-bags! PAY UP, SUCKA!

    1. Tomorrow’s Headline: “Former Acquaintance of Gov. Daniels files civil suit for unpaid marijuana debt.”

      Hey, I can dream. (dream that such a case could be handled in court rather than on the street with violence.)

  7. I’ve been “experimenting” with pot since 1977. I always wear a lab coat when toking, just in case I get a high profile job or get elected to public office. “Experimenting” is ok with the authoritarians.

    1. That’s the image I always get when some hypocrite says he “experimented”. Lab coat, horn rim glasses, clip board, test tubes….

  8. I suggest the Michael Bloomberg billboard with his quote on his past use of geef (“You bet I did. And I enjoyed it.”) as the photo for yer column tomorrow, Jacob.

    You guys will probably find a funnier photo though — you have a great sense of visual humor.

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