Newt Gingrich has had a pretty rough couple of weeks, and things just got worse today when most of his top staff resigned.  I hate to hit a man when he is down (actually in this case I don’t mind too much, Newt is as slimy a politician as his name suggests), but last night I was reading Illegal Drugs: A Complete Guide (don’t worry mom, it is for school), when I came across this on page IX:

Congressman Newt Gingrich, the Speaker of the House, proposed legislation that would impose the death penalty for people caught carrying as little as 2 ounces of marijuana.  (1996’s HR 4170).  He excused his own past marijuana use by explaining that pot smoking ‘was a sign that we were alive and in graduate school in that era.'”

Now that takes a set, to propose the death penalty for something that you did in the past.

But like any nanny state politician, he is doing it for the children:

“it is because you have made the personal decision that you are prepared to get rich by destroying our children. I have made the decision that I love our children enough that we will kill you if you do this.”

He goes on to propose mass public executions to make a statement that we are hard on crime:

“The first time we execute 27 or 30 or 35 people at one time, and they go around Colombia and France and Thailand and Mexico, and they say, ‘Hi, would you like to carry some drugs into the U.S.?’ the price of carrying drugs will have gone up dramatically.”

Newt further justified his change in opinion with this statement that is so incoherent it is difficult to believe he was sober at the time:

When I smoked pot it was illegal but not immoral.  Now it is illegal and immoral the law didn’t change, only the morality.  That is why you get to go to jail and I don’t.

Nana Nana Bo Bo, Stick Your Head In Doo Doo.

When it comes to medical marijuana, he has also had a significant change of position over the years.  In 1982 then congressman Gingrich wrote a letter to the editor of the Journal of the American Medical Association supporting medical marijuana stating in part:

This outdated federal prohibition is corrupting the intent of the state laws and depriving thousands of glaucoma and cancer patients of the medical care promised them by their state legislatures.

More recently Newt supports getting in the way of granny:

I just hope granny doesn’t have more than 2 ounces on her or Newt may propose the chair.

Newt’s not the only politician with past drug use:

  • Sarah Palin smoked pot while it was legal under Alaska law, although it remained illegal under federal law.  She is now against any form of legalization medical or otherwise stating that it is more harmful than when she smoked it.  But luckily, Ron Paul may be rubbing off on her a bit.  Her most recent statements on the issue were Fox Business Network where she appeared with the Texas Congressman and stated:

“If we’re talking about pot, I’m not for the legalization of pot,” Palin said. “I think that would just encourage our young people to think that it was OK to go ahead and use it.  However, I think we need to prioritize our law enforcement efforts,” Palin added. “If somebody’s gonna smoke a joint in their house and not do anybody any harm, then perhaps there are other things our cops should be looking at to engage in and try to clean up some of the other problems we have in society.”

  • Rick Santorum also smoked pot while in college.  When Newt was under-fire for his extra marital affairs, which were occurring even while he was attempting to impeach Clinton for the Lewinsky scandal, Santorum came to his defense with the following statement:

“I don’t think that’s hypocritical,” Santorum said. “For example, I smoked pot when I was in college. Does that mean that I can’t talk about drug use? Does that mean that I can’t talk about how that’s a bad thing? Of course not.”

  • Mitch Daniels has declined a run for president in 2012, but I have to include him on this list, just because of how good of an example he is.  While Daniels was in college he and two roommates were busted with prescription drugs without a prescription, LSD and enough marijuana to fill two large size 12 shoe boxes (more than enough for Newt’s death sentence).  Even back in college he was thinking about a future in politics, a future he thought would be over, saying: “any goal I might have had for competing for public office were shot.”  Let this be an example that even drug dealers can reform themselves and go one to be upstanding professionals…or at least politicians.
  • Gary Johnson admits to smoking pot both recreationally when younger and medically about 6 years ago after a near fatal accident.  Johnson now supports legalization and did so even while in office as Governor of New Mexico.
  • Justice Clarence Thomas smoked pot in college.
  • Barack Obama admits to smoking pot and cocaine.
  • George Bush was not nearly as up front about his past use.  He was know to have a drinking problem and was even arrested with a DUI in 1976.  He says he would have passed a background test that includes drug use back to at least 1974 when he was 28, implying that maybe he would not have previous to that.  There were allegations of a cocaine arrest, but those have not been conclusive.
  • Bill Clinton smoked pot, but of course never inhaled.
  • Considering that half of what we spend on law enforcement is drug related, annually arresting around a million people on drug related charges, leading to the highest per capita incarceration rate in the world, and considering that the above drug users (and possibly dealers) can use and go one to lead successful productive lives, maybe it is time to reconsider our prohibitions and war on drugs.

    Oh, and by the way, Ron Paul has consistently advocated ending the war on drugs, both then:

    and now:

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