17 Politicians Who've Admitted to Smoking Pot (PHOTOS)

Several presidents have done it. So, too, have governors and big-city mayors. And unlike Bill Clinton, most have inhaled. Long before national headlines blared out a candidate’s position on recreational or medical marijuana legalization, the great pot debate centered around did they or didn’t they?

Forget about the economy, national defense, or balanced budgets. As children of the free-love, reefer-smoking ’60s and ’70s began entering the political arena, America wanted to know if they’d met Mary Jane. Here are the politicians who've admitted to smoking pot. 

 

Image via © Joshua Roberts/Reuters/Corbis

  • Michael Bloomberg

    1

    The former mayor of New York City gets major props for not only admitting he smoked marijuana but also liking it — a lot. “You bet I did, and I enjoyed it,” Bloomberg told New York magazine a year before his bid for city CEO. Like so many politicians, he later recanted, apologizing for the spontaneous remark and saying decriminalizing pot was not a good idea.

  • John Kerry

    2

    As a 2004 Democratic presidential hopeful, the U.S. Secretary of State answered a simple “yes” when asked during a CNN Rock the Vote debate, “Which of you are willing to admit having used marijuana in the past?”

  • George W. Bush

    3

    Although W. didn’t directly admit his use of marijuana to his dad’s aide (with the ironic name Doug Wead) during taped interviews, snippets later leaked to ABC implied it. During a Tonight Show interview after his presidency, No. 43 told Jay Leno he “might have smoked something.” 

  • Sarah Palin

    4

    The former Alaska governor and veep running mate said she smoked pot, didn’t enjoy it, and doesn’t indulge anymore. She blames misguided decisions as a youngster. “I can’t claim a Bill Clinton and say that I never inhaled,” she confided to the Anchorage Daily News in 2006.

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  • Barack Obama

    5

    The Democratic president has never denied his use or claimed he didn’t inhale. In fact, he addressed his pot-smoking days in the 1995 memoir Dreams of My Father, saying he and his high school buddies, known as the Choom Gang, got high in vans, dorm rooms and on the Hawaiian beaches. “When I was a kid, I inhaled. That was the point.”

  • Arnold Schwarzenegger

    6

    The former California governator thought smoking pot was part of normal culture and was filmed toking during the 1977 documentary, Pumping Iron. (He thought weed would help him as a bodybuilder.)  “Back when I used to smoke marijuana, I thought everyone did it. I would get high and go out in public and when I looked into other people’s eyes, I thought that they were just as stoned as I was.” He was even raided by U.S. Customs officers, who found a quarter-ounce bag of Mary Jane in his living room.

     

  • Jeb Bush

    7

    The former Florida governor and 2016 presidential wannabe indulged in alcohol and ganja as a student at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. “I drank alcohol and I smoked marijuana when I was at Andover,” he told the Boston Globe last year. “It was pretty common.” 

  • Rand Paul

    8

    The filibustering senator from Kentucky (once ranked third behind California and Tennessee for pot production) and 2016 presidential contender is an advocate of marijuana legalization. When asked if he’d ever tried pot, Paul responded, “Let’s just say I wasn’t a choir boy when I was in college ... I can recognize that kids make mistakes, and I can say that I made mistakes when I was a kid.”

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  • Bill Clinton

    9

    The 42nd president famously declared during a TV interview before the 1992 presidential election that he never inhaled. “When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale and I didn’t try it again.” It was funny then; it still is today.

  • Al Gore

    10

    Clinton’s VP and 2000 Democratic presidential hopeful, Gore admitted to infrequent use during his newspaper days in Tennessee. A book by a former colleague claims Gore loved the stuff, smoking three or four times a week in the 1970s.

  • Jesse Ventura

    11

    The ex-Minnesota governor, Navy Seal, and wrestler was candid when a writer from Dope Magazine asked if he’d ever indulged. “Are you kidding? I grew up in the ’60s. I’ve tried it; I’ll put it that way. I remember one Jimi Hendrix concert in 1970; some of the best pot I ever smoked, and you didn’t even have to be high when you showed up.”

  • Howard Dean

    12

    The former chair of the Democratic National Committee was one of three candidates to answer in the affirmative during the infamous 2003 CNN Rock the Vote debate question: “Which of you are willing to admit having used marijuana in the past?”

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  • Andrew Cuomo

    13

    In his successful bid to replace New York Governor George Pataki, Andrew Cuomo revealed he’d also tried pot. “I tried marijuana in my youth,” he said during a press conference to repeal New York's harsh drug laws.

  • John Edwards

    14

    Then Senator John Edwards answered “yes” when asked if he’d used marijuana during CNN’s 2003 Rock the Vote debate. 

  • George Pataki

    15

    The former New York governor and 2016 presidential candidate might be among the most creative cannabis users, according to his autobiography. During law school at Columbia University, Pataki and pals mixed marijuana with their baked beans. He confesses to smoking a few times, adding “and I inhaled.” He also said smoking had no appeal because his friends, once high, became antisocial.

  • Gary Johnson

    16

    New Mexico’s former governor, currently a Libertarian presidential candidate, was named chairman of Cannabis Sativa Inc., a company that produces marijuana-based oils for cough drops and other forms of medical delivery. In announcing last year’s new gig, Johnson said, “I have a real aversion to smoking marijuana; I think most people have an aversion to smoking, period. I’ve tried the product and my reaction is, number one, why would anybody ever smoke marijuana given this as an alternative?”

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  • Lawton Chiles

    17

    The long-time Florida politician and governor admitted in 1987 he'd experimented with pot just days after Supreme Court nominee Judge Douglas Ginsburg withdrew his nomination upon admitting to marijuana use. It didn't matter, “Walkin’ Lawton” (a nickname he earned for hoofing it more than 800 miles from Key West to Pensacola during his successful 1970 bid for U.S. Senate) was elected despite the confession.

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