Marijuana

Politicians Should Try Drugs—and Honesty

We need more candidness from politicians, even if it means a little less sobriety.

|

Over the weekend, Donald Trump suggested giving presidential candidates a drug test. This is a marvelous idea, if only because it would force candidates to be honest.

According to a recent Gallup survey, one in eight American adults say they smoke marijuana. This means that at least one in eight American adults are honest. The rest are either liars or nerds.

According to the survey, 13% of U.S. adults say they use marijuana regularly—up from 7% in 2013. Forty-three percent say they've tried it—up from 38% in 2013 and 4% in 1969.

Recreational marijuana use is more prevalent on the West Coast, where it is also more legal. Of the four states that have legalized it—Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon—three are on the West Coast and the fourth is in the Western part of the country. Fourteen percent of Westerners say they consume marijuana regularly; 47% say they have tried it. Both numbers are above the national average and trending in the right direction.

With increasing legal and social tolerance of marijuana comes increasing honesty about it. When certain activities are no longer criminal or taboo, people are more apt to admit to engaging in them.

Prohibition turns otherwise decent, law-abiding citizens into liars and criminals. It breeds dishonesty among the citizenry, corruption among law enforcement, and hypocrisy among politicians. Some prominent examples:

  • Bill Clinton admitted to smoking (but not inhaling) marijuana.
  • Al Gore said his marijuana use was "infrequent and rare." (A friend of Gore's, John Warnecke, disputed this, saying he and Gore smoked marijuana "a lot.")
  • George W. Bush confessed to making "mistakes" in his youth but refused to elaborate on his youthful indiscretions because, as he said, "I don't want some little kid doing what I tried." The idea, presumably, is that confessing sin creates sinners.
  • Barack Obama admitted to smoking (and inhaling) marijuana, thereby—if Bush's logic is correct—prompting the recent uptick in marijuana use.

The White House's website says that using marijuana can lead to "very real consequences," which is true. If you smoke pot, you might become president.

Libertarian Party presidential candidate Gary Johnson is refreshingly candid on the subject of drugs. During his first campaign for governor of New Mexico in 1994, Johnson said he used both marijuana and cocaine in college.

Why did he smoke pot? For the same reason that most people do—"because it was fun," he said.

Not only does Johnson admit to using marijuana in his youth. He admits to using it as an adult and even as a presidential candidate—as recently as this April. He would flunk a drug test and pass a lie-detector test, which is better than the reverse.

Johnson cautions against using marijuana. "It's a bad choice," he says. For some people, and in certain situations, it surely is. But it's relative. Compared to a healthy diet, a strict exercise regimen, and a productive day at work, marijuana probably isn't the best option. But if the alternatives are crystal meth, migraine headaches, and boredom, marijuana has its advantages.

A report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration found that in 2014 only 34.3% of Americans "perceived great risk from smoking marijuana once or twice a week—down from 51.3 percent in 2002." During that timespan, the percentage of current marijuana users rose from 6.2% to 8.4%. The numbers suggest that as more people use marijuana, fewer are scared of it. Evidently, marijuana makes you less paranoid the more you use it.

As marijuana use has increased, so has public support for its legalization. Last year, 58% of Americans supported legalization. In 1969, only 12% did.

What happened over those years? Millions of Americans used marijuana and, in so doing, learned that it's not a big deal. It's actually safer and less addictive than alcohol and tobacco, albeit less legal.

Most marijuana users, contrary to stereotype, are normal people. Many lead successful lives, even those who do not become president. Take Michael Phelps. In 2009, Phelps was photographed taking a bong hit. In July, he was photographed with five new gold medals. Smoking weed will not make you an Olympian, but neither will it prevent you from becoming one.

Of the two major-party presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, neither has used marijuana, or so they claim. They should give it a try. What we need from our politicians is more candor, even if it means less sobriety.

NEXT: FBI Stats Show 'War on Police' Claim Still Not Accurate

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. The rest are either liars or nerds.

    Yep, that’s gotta be it.

    1. Yeah, that’s a bit much. I’m sure people do lie in the surveys. But there are also a lot of people who never take any interest in doing drugs.

      Often in my life I feel like everyone must smoke weed, because most of the people I know do. But then I’ll find myself in a different social situation where hardly anyone does.

      I think 10-20% of people being somewhat regular weed smokers sounds about right.

      1. This article, in total, seems to be just another douchey pothead telling everyone that they should smoke pot “because it’s so much fun, man”.

        1. Start working at home with Google! It’s by-far the best job I’ve had. Last Wednesday I got a brand new BMW since getting a check for $6474 this – 4 weeks past. I began this 8-months ago and immediately was bringing home at least $77 per hour. I work through this link,

          go? to tech tab for work detail,,,,,,, http://www.highpay90.com

      2. I don’t know. I used to think the same, then I began to discover that it was mainly that some people are more selective about letting anyone on to the fact that they occasionally smoke some reefer. This includes most of the people I’ve known who are opposed to legalisation (which is perhaps the majority). And, of course, for some folks it’s not a “regular” thing, but rather an occasional. Then again, I’ve lived in the West most of my time. Evenso, it’s hard to see why it’s widely employed as a recreational drug. There’s no good reason anyone should pursue its psychoactive effects for their own sake. I do see a lot of chronic dopesmokers who obviously use it relieve anxiety.

        1. Evenso, it’s hard to see why it’s widely employed as a recreational drug. There’s no good reason anyone should pursue its psychoactive effects for their own sake.

          What?

        2. There’s no good reason anyone should pursue its psychoactive effects for their own sake.

          Sure there is. It’s called “self ownership.”

          1. Eh, that’s not a good reason for an individual to pursue it per se. It is a damn good reason not to interfere with other people’s pursuit of it, though.

            1. ^This^

              I must be a nerd, because I’ve never been interested in trying it. Not out of fear or anything, I’ve just never been so inclined. Although lately I’ve been thinking about starting. Might take the edge off.

              But I have no interest in preventing other people from using it if that’s their choice.

              1. I think some people just have a natural tendency to seek out mind-altering substances and some don’t. I had several friends growing up who were friends with lots of stoner/druggie types and had no problem with it, but who never smoked, or tried once and didn’t like it. And no one really ever gave them a hard time or accused them of being nerds.
                Then I have other friends who would probably be in prison, in a mental institution or dead if they didn’t smoke weed.

                1. I smoke my ass off all day every day, but I still think it should be outlawed for all the puny peons (ALL of them!) who, unlike MEEEEE, can’t handle it!

        3. There’s no good reason anyone should pursue its psychoactive effects for their own sake.

          You’re not going to say alcohol and cigars are different because you use those *for the taste* are you?

        4. By “somewhat regular”, I mean something like weekly or more often.

    2. I frequently feel like it’s more of a confession of guilt in some circles if you don’t smoke weed. People think I’m a weirdo for having never tried it and having no interest in trying it.

      I drink alcohol on occasion, so I’m not exactly Penn Jilette. I’ll take prescription medications if I must (so far that has only meant a pain reliever with codeine in it for wisdom teeth removal and antibiotics for strep), but am mostly against medicating or intoxicating myself without reason.

      Anyway, as far as policy positions go, I don’t care about what anyone else does to their own bodies as long as it has no effect on me. Don’t drink and drive, don’t operate a fucking crane while intoxicated, etc. If you’re a responsible heroin user and don’t endanger anyone with your habit, more power to you, have fun. I’d rather all drugs were pharmaceutical grade, came with instructions for use guided by medical professionals, clean needles, etc. Drugs like naloxone should be freely available, no questions asked, even if we can’t get the state or the population to agree to legalize completely. That’s coming from someone who has no personal interest in them whatsoever. Maybe I am Penn Jilette after all. Probably not. I still like hobbit movies.

      1. This is pretty much exactly where I fall as well. I had a prescription for Percocet because of kidney stones and I hated talking it. I have a prescription for Indomethicin to deal with migraine pain and I hate taking that too. And as you said, I don’t care what anyone else consumes as long as it doesn’t affect me.

        1. I think there are more of us than most people think, but far fewer than there should be. I don’t care what substances you put in your body, but I avoid basic meds, have never smoked anything, and pretty nearly never have enough alcohol to feel it much.

          I do get confused looks and comments when I try to explain to most people what I said above. People are either very doubtful in my honesty, or confused that I don’t support drug laws, and think we should be allowed access to most meds without prescriptions.

          1. Same here.

            The very idea of taking smoke, voluntarily, into your lungs makes me shudder. I was in the Army (Active, Guard or Reserve) from age 18 until late 40s, so drug testing was in place, even if I wanted to try something. Now, I am old and have no desire. But if you want to do so, without hurting me, go for it. None of my business.

            1. The cynical statist would conclude that you are an example of a 1984-esque cradle-to-grave state indoctrination into the “right way” of living (drug free and compliant).

              I’d much rather more of our armed forces were composed of libertarians, despite our natural reservations for being grasping limbs of the state and its use of force. The libertarian is the one in the unit who would rather frag a bad leader that gave him an order to burn a village of non-combatant civilians to the ground. Promise to follow orders, but act in according to your conscience regardless.

  2. I don’t think a legal requirement for a drug test for candidates would be constitutionally OK. But if they could all be pressured into doing it, it would be amusing and edifying.

    1. It apparently is more than constitutionally OK for me to get drug tested to get a job with the federal government, it is mandatory. Why then is it not okay to drug test all political candidates trying to get a federal job. Don’t get me wrong. I am against all mandated drug testing, but you seem to be arguing for an us and them standard. I believe we have seen quite enough of that double-standard.

      1. I don’t think that’s a good policy, but if the federal government is going to employ people, they get to have standards. Requiring people to have experience in a particular field isn’t in the constitution either, but it would be ridiculous to say that it therefore isn’t allowed when the government is hiring.

        Elected officials, on the other hand, only have to meet the standards explicitly defined in the constitution, and for good reason.

  3. “According to the survey, 13% of U.S. adults say they use marijuana regularly”

    And all of those probably live in DC, AL, WA, CO, or OR, or have medical mj cards.

    If the entire country would answer that survey honestly, I’m betting it’s close to 20%.

    That means that 20% of the American public who live in any other than the aforementioned states, are made criminals by our insane laws which most politicians agree with.

    1. Correction: AK, not AL

    2. I smoke marijuana and do not live in one of those states or have one of those mj cards. I’m a criminal and I love it.

      1. It’s better than being an officially registered criminal who has it on record that he went down on the state to beg permission to live.

        1. At least three felonies a day and proud of it.

    3. If you smoke in those states you’re still a criminal. It’s just only once per use instead of twice.

  4. This is one the dumbest fucking things Trump has said. It’s dumber than the wall thing. STFU, you doofus. If I didn’t know better, I would think he’s trying his best to throw the election to Hillary.

    1. If I didn’t know better, I would think he’s trying his best to throw the election to Hillary.

      Possibly.

  5. Personally, I’d suggest that they should have to debate stoned. Really, it could only make them less repulsive.

    1. Hillary: *Staring straight ahead blankly for long period of time*

      Trump: What’s wrong grandma, you can’t…. uh, I forgot what I was going to say..

      Hillary: *cough cough cough*

      Trump: She’s sick! She can’t… anyone got some cheesy poofs?

      Hillary: *woof woof woof cackle cackle*

      Trump: Grab it’s motherfucking pussy!

    2. I think mushrooms would be better.

      1. Like the death cup?

        1. 2 Candidates 1 Cup

    3. Perhaps, I only know that watching them stoned really wasn’t that effective.

  6. If most politicians used drugs, you know what they would do? They’d still throw your ass in prison for doing exactly what they’re doing.

  7. Politicians Should Try Drugs?and Honesty

    Politicians should try an honesty drug!

    1. Have you ever lied, Senator?

  8. As marijuana use has increased, so has public support for its legalization. Last year, 58% of Americans supported legalization. In 1969, only 12% did.

    What happened over those years?

    The Communist takeover happened.

  9. “Of the four states that have legalized it?Colorado, Washington, Alaska, and Oregon?three are on the West Coast and the fourth is in the Western part of the country.”

    Well, Alaska doesn’t mean dick since nobody lives there but a handful of weirdoes and rejects. And Washington is sort of a cancerous growth on Oregon. Oregon and Colorado (And California, for as much as it’s worth) are all colonised under a heavy Mexican influence. Co?ncidence?

    1. No coincidence here, reefer madness and Trump are both right, they’re rapists high on the pots!

  10. I’m pretty sure I didn’t just imagine Howard Dean’s implication that Trump’s pronounced sniffing in the first debate was indicative of cocaine use, so Trump’s “put up or shut up” gambit is hardly the worst thing he has done. Besides, I think we’d all like to know what sort of pharmacological cocktails Hillary has been slurping.

    1. “what sort of pharmacological cocktails Hillary has been slurping”

      Any ones she wants to. All of which would probably make you eligible for a felony.

    2. If you want video indicative of cocaine use, check out the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings right after the commercial break.

    1. An ad hominem at its finest. It might be impolitic to cite the case, but the quoted portion is still correct as to the matter of law.

      That having been said, a rights-based argument vis-a-vis abortion doesn’t lead to any meaningful answers since there is a fundamental conflict of rights.

  11. Personally I hate the smell of that crap, it gives me a headache. I have to shut my window at night because one of my neighbors just has to smoke…

    Why can’t we have the same attitude towards second-hand pot smoke as we do for tobacco cigarettes…

    and fuck that ‘othering’ shit. If you don’t smoke pot you must be a NERD. God you must be real smart there

    1. Why can’t we have the same attitude towards second-hand pot smoke as we do for tobacco cigarettes

      Hysterical pearl-clutching ninnying?

    2. ^Tulpa

    3. Why can’t we have the same attitude towards second-hand pot smoke as we do for tobacco cigarettes…

      Hysterical over-reaction and demand for “Control”?

      Eat a bag of poison dicks.

      1. Second-hand poisoned dicks, on the other hand…

    4. Of course, your argument kind of gives away that the hysteria about second-smoke was never really about health but instead discomfort. Don’t get me wrong, I find the smell of cigarette (and cigarillo and cigar) smoke disgusting too, but sending the cops after them is far more disturbing.

      1. of course, it has nothing to do with health. if you want to toke up, do it on your own fucking time in your own fucking room. I don’t want to smell it, just like I don’t want to hear you blast your crappy music.

        You have a right (or should have a right) to smoke, but you don’t have a right to infringe on my living space with your second hand smoke.

        1. Is it your living space, though? Doesn’t closing the window prevent you from smelling it? The question of who gets to control the air outside a personal dwelling is more complicated.

        2. Then people also need to stop wearing perfume or other scented toilet products and everything else that has an odor that some people don’t like.

        3. So anyone who annoys you should have to deal with the cops. Got it.

          Go fuck yourself.

      2. Recently, I had my first run-in with someone who was vaping.

        The one detail that stood out was that it didn’t have much in the way of an odor trailing behind the person, and it certainly didn’t have the choking reek of cigarettes. Since I had to deal with the fumes from smokers on a daily basis, that fact alone makes me favorably inclined towards the technology. (Liftime non-smoker with no previous opinion on vaping).

        1. I do think vaping (at least, the kind I was exposed to) has some kind of environmental effect, although it’s not exactly a smell (kind of like how mint can be considered a sensation rather than a flavor). But it’s much weaker and less pervasive than cigarette smoke.

          1. Well, it does have aromas added and nicotine does have topical effects, so I’m sure if you are sensitive to those things and walk through a dense cloud you could notice something.

        2. A salesman walking in yesterday to my office and asked what the wonderful smell was…berry flavored ejuice. Never in my 20+ years of smoking did someone say I/room smelled good.

          1. Suddenly Glade falls under the purview of the FDA (yet again I suspect).

      3. I always liked the smell of pipe and cigar tobacco, even before I smoked.

    5. Why can’t we have the same attitude towards second-hand pot smoke as we do for tobacco cigarettes…

      We do. Shut your window if you don’t like it. If you are outside, and it’s not your property, go somewhere else.

    6. Why can’t we have the same attitude towards second-hand pot smoke as we do for tobacco cigarettes…

      No thanks. There’s enough nanny state bullshit already.

  12. Never mind drug tests. Here’s my idea. Put them in shock collars, and give the viewing public a means of “fact-checking” them in real time.

    1. If you’d put that on pay-per-view, you could pay off the national debt. (or at least cut the deficit by a significant amount)

      Make it a monthly thing, like UFC.

  13. “According to the survey, 13% of U.S. adults say they use marijuana regularly?up from 7% in 2013. Forty-three percent say they’ve tried it?up from 38% in 2013 and 4% in 1969.”

    I think this is more a measure of public acceptance regarding use and a growing lack of fear about getting prosecuted.

    People who tell strangers that call them up randomly that they indulge are probably disproportionately unemployed, disproportionately not in a profession where drug use might compromise their career, disproportionately not gun owners, and disproportionately not very bright.

    Why would you tell a stranger on the phone that you smoke marijuana? What’s the benefit of that?

    1. Telling a stranger on the phone that you get high is the sort of thing that only seems like a good idea when you’re high.

      1. Seriously, the guy that answers that question, I’m picturing Rick from Trailer Park Boys.

        “Yeah, I get high. I’m high right now. And I just harvested a crop out behind my trailer park. You wanna buy some? I’ve got like three pounds–and it’s all two hitter quitter!”

    2. What’s the benefit of responding to any survey?

  14. We need more candidness from politicians, even if it means a little less sobriety.

    I read that as cannabis, my vote would be with that person.

  15. Needz moar pot and less Project Veritas.

  16. I would bet a majority of adults in this country have at least tried an illegal drug at some point in their lives. Politicians and drug warriors don’t like to admit that fact. And that is not just because it shows how ineffective the drug war is. It is more because it shows how the drug war is based on a completely false premise. The drug war is based on the assumption that drugs cause people to behave irresponsible rather than irresponsible people being the cause of people using drugs. The fact that so many people have tried drugs and decided that they were not that great or even if they used them recreationally eventually grew up and found better things to do puts lie to that.

    The truth is few things suck worse than being a drug addict. And drugs really are not that great. If you legalized drugs tomorrow, use would spike at first as people were curious to try them now that they were legal but it would quickly drop back to the level it was before as people tried them and realized they had better things to do. Drug warriors can’t accept that.

    1. The other big thing they can’ or won’t accept is that some people are prone to addiction and some just aren’t. And those who are particularly prone to addiction will probably find something to be addicted to no matter what. Even if drug experimentation did rise with legalization, the number of serious addicts probably wouldn’t change much.

  17. Don’t get me wrong, I find the smell of cigarette (and cigarillo and cigar) smoke disgusting too, but sending the cops after them is far more disturbing.

    To paraphrase some guy in a movie paraphrasing Al Capone:

    You can get a lot more accomplished with a stern admonition and a gun than with a stern admonition alone.

  18. Is Windsor Mann the British Florida Man?

  19. Donald Trump suggested drug testing before the last debate.

    Windsor Mann writes:

    This is a marvelous idea, if only because it would force candidates to be honest.

    Its a horrible idea – one that pushes the narrative that drug use *per se* is a problem. Its not. We also don’t need any ‘well anyone trying out for the job of President gets drug tested, so why are you complaining about your pre-employment screening/people on welfare getting tested’.

    1. Goddamn. Look Reason – just implement some bold/blockquote/italics buttons here. You know, basic HTML functions that are available in even lower-rent places.

      1. I have these in fascr I bet even resaonablethat other one has them. Get tech savvy, man

    2. As long as drugs are illegal and especially as long as we test the military and prosecute them when they come up positive, I see no reason why we shouldn’t test all candidates for and holders of federal offices. I would test their staffs as well. If they don’t like being tested, too bad. If they want to claim drug use is that damaging, then there is every reason to test them.

      1. What if they don’t want to claim drug use is damaging? Seems like that policy might serve to exclude people who want to reform drug laws. I guess if they are all just lying about drug use it might not matter.

        I do think it would be a good thing if it was for purely informational purposes. Give them a full screen for recreational and prescription drugs. But as I say above, I don’t think that’s constitutional if it’s mandatory. Age, citizenship and place of birth should be the only requirements legally.

  20. Of the two major-party presidential candidates, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump, neither has used marijuana, or so they claim. They should give it a try.

    At the very least, smoking some MJ might get them to mellow the fuck out.

  21. Of the thousands of innocent and harmless people whose deportations I have witnessed–many from countries with no Ku Klux prohibitionists, no entrenched racial collectivism and no superstitious fixation with Demonic Possession–most were busted for pathetically niggling quantities of beer and driving. To the extent that safer drugs replace alcohol, These States may retain the privilege of driving cars. Otherwise it’s x-rays and intimate fingerings by Transport Sozialist Arbeiterpartei goons and collective transportation–plus the occasional bicycle.

  22. RE: Politicians Should Try Drugs?and Honesty
    We need more candidness from politicians, even if it means a little less sobriety

    You mean the ruling elitist turds enslaving us all weren’t doing drugs while fucking everything up?
    Now, that’s a scary thought.

  23. Liliana . if you think Lawrence `s blog is incredible, I just purchased a new Honda after earning $5741 this – 4 weeks past and also 10 grand lass month . it’s by-far the most-comfortable job I have ever done . I started this four months/ago and almost immediately began to make minimum $85… p/h .

    see this……………. http://www.BuzzNews10.com

  24. Liliana . if you think Lawrence `s blog is incredible, I just purchased a new Honda after earning $5741 this – 4 weeks past and also 10 grand lass month . it’s by-far the most-comfortable job I have ever done . I started this four months/ago and almost immediately began to make minimum $85… p/h .

    see this……………. http://www.BuzzNews10.com

  25. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  26. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  27. Liliana . if you think Lawrence `s blog is incredible, I just purchased a new Honda after earning $5741 this – 4 weeks past and also 10 grand lass month . it’s by-far the most-comfortable job I have ever done . I started this four months/ago and almost immediately began to make minimum $85… p/h .

    see this……………. http://www.BuzzNews10.com

  28. until I looked at the paycheck saying $4730 , I did not believe that…my… brother woz like actualy bringing in money part time from there computar. . there friend brother started doing this for less than 7 months and resently paid for the morgage on there home and bought a new Cadillac …….

    …….. http://www.jobprofit9.com

  29. Ellie . true that Susan `s blurb is good… I just purchased a gorgeous Fiat Panda sincee geting a check for $8891 this-last/4 weeks and also ten grand last-month . this is actually the most financialy rewarding Ive had . I started this 9-months ago and right away was bringin in at least $87, per-hour .

    see……………. http://www.BuzzNews10.com

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.