A Brief History of Politicians Admitting to Smoking Weed

Jeb Bush
Jeb Bush apologized to his mother for discussing his history of marijuana usage during Wednesday night's Republican debate. Lucy Nicholson/Reuters

One of the funniest moments of Wednesday night's Republican debate came during a discussion about marijuana legalization. Rand Paul mentioned that one of his fellow presidential hopefuls was a hypocrite in his opposition of legalization because he used to smoke weed himself. (Never mind that Paul has been accused of getting high, tying a woman up and forcing her to hit a bong in college.)

From across the stage, Jeb Bush practically interrupted Paul to claim responsibility. "So 40 years ago I smoked marijuana, and I admit it," he said. "I'm sure other people might have done it and might not want to say it in front of 25 million people. My mom's not happy that I just did."

Shortly thereafter, a Bush staffer tweeted this:

It was the most re-tweeted 140-character message of the debate.

Jeb Bush isn't the first politician to admit a history with marijuana. Far from it. The topic of past drug use is going to be raised to anyone running for office, and it's always amusing to see how different candidates address the issue. Some are blunt about it, some maintain that they were only "experimenting" and some—one in particular—make sure to note that they didn't inhale. Here's what we mean:

Jeb Bush

Did you watch the debate?

Bernie Sanders

Sanders is a strong defender of a state's right to legalize marijuana. He's also smoked the green himself, although he didn't take to it very well. "I coughed a lot," he told Katie Couric earlier this summer. "I smoked marijuana twice, but it didn't quite work for me. It's not my thing, but it is the thing of a whole lot of people."

Ted Cruz

Though Ted Cruz might look like he's perpetually high, he doesn't actually smoke weed. But he did. "Teenagers are often known for their lack of judgment, and Senator Cruz was no exception," a Cruz spokesperson told The Daily Mail. "When he was a teenager, he foolishly experimented with marijuana. It was a mistake, and he's never tried it since."

Rick Santorum

In the runup to the 2012 election, Santorum appeared on Piers Morgan Live and admitted to getting high when Morgan asked him if he'd ever done anything illegal. "When I was in college I smoked pot," he said. "It was something that I'm not proud of, but I did. It was something I wish I hadn't done, but I did and I admitted it. I would encourage people not to do so, because it's not all it's made up to be."

George Pataki

According to an AP report about the 1994 New York gubernatorial election, Pataki toked up while either at Yale or Columbia Law School. "It was in college that he tried marijuana," the report read. "He didn't like it and stuck with beer." The report also notes that Pataki is a big fan of pizza and the Rolling Stones.

Sarah Palin

Palin's past was thoroughly vetted when John McCain announced her as his running mate in the 2008 election. When it came to weed, the answer was yes. "I can't claim a Bill Clinton and say I never inhaled," she told the Anchorage Daily News in 2006.

Barack Obama

Our current president's smoking past has been well-chronicled. While attending high school in Hawaii, Obama and his friends formed a group called the Choom Gang. Obama goes into detail about the Choom Gang's weed-addled exploits in his 2004 book, Dreams From My Father.

John Kerry

Howard Dean

John Edwards

Prior to the 2004 election, a stage full of democratic hopefuls at a Rock the Vote event were asked if they'd smoked pot. Kerry, Dean and Edwards all copped to having smoked a little green in the past.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger
YouTube/Newsweek

Jesse Ventura

Jesse Ventura is a staunch advocate for marijuana legalization and, of course, "The Body" has smoked weed himself. "Sure, I smoked pot," he said at an event in 2004. "If you grew up in the '60s and you didn't smoke pot, you're either a liar or you didn't grow up in the '60s."

Newt Gingrich

Newt Gingrich admitted to smoking weed while in graduate school in the '60s. That didn't stop him from proposing the death penalty for smuggling marijuana in 1996.

Andrew Cuomo

"I did experiment with marijuana when I was a youth," Cuomo said in 2010. "In no way do I suggest any young people should do any experimentation whatsoever."

Michael Bloomberg

Bloomberg has admitted to "experimenting" with weed when he was younger, but later regretted doing so (admitting it, that is).

Al Gore

Gore has admitted to smoking weed, but claims instances of inhaling were "infrequent and rare." Some have said Gore's affinity for marijuana wasn't as rare as he claims. Close friend and former Tennessean reporter Andy Schlesinger says that in the first few months after Gore returned from Vietnam, he smoked with him "at least a dozen times." What else would you expect from a guy who's trying to save the environment?

Bill Clinton

He didn't inhale.