Feature

The hypocrisy of politicians about pot

When it comes to marijuana, said Steve Chapman, presidential candidates practice one thing and preach another. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry all admitted having smoked pot in their youth. Yet on the campaign trail, none advocated d

Steve ChapmanChicago Tribune

When it comes to marijuana, said Steve Chapman, presidential candidates practice one thing and preach another. George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and John Kerry all admitted having smoked pot in their youth. Yet on the campaign trail, none advocated decriminalizing cannabis—meaning they were “happy to put people behind bars for crimes they themselves committed.” To his credit, Barack Obama advocated leniency for minor pot offenders when he ran for the Senate in 2004. Now, though, he’s urging just the opposite. That’s because White House aspirants think it’s “political suicide” to be seen as soft on drugs. But decriminalizing pot does not mean opening the doors to drug abuse. Marijuana has already been decriminalized in 12 states, comprising a third of our population, and there’s been no explosion of addicts. That shouldn’t be surprising: Cigarettes and booze are both legal, yet both smoking and drinking rates have been declining for years. “Freedom is not incompatible with enlightened self-restraint.” Shortly before leaving office, Bill Clinton grasped this, suggesting that pot should indeed be decriminalized. When will a president say this before being elected?

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