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Citizen Poll: Your Thoughts on Politicians With Prior Drug Use?

Politicians used to avoid admitting to past drug use at all costs. In 1992, Bill Clinton infamously hedged that although he tried marijuana, he did not inhale. Yet in 2000, George W. Bush's youthful indiscretions did not doom his bid for presidency. By 2004, candidates openly admitted to experimentation with marijuana. Senator Joe Lieberman even apologized at a debate for never smoking pot.

This election season, candidates are being open once again. When asked if he ever smoked (and inhaled) marijuana, Barack Obama responded: "I inhaled . . . frequently. That was the point." Check out the video above to see a good recap of the changing political impact of past drug use.

How does disclosure of past drug use impact your opinion of a candidate?

Join The Conversation
Jillness Jillness 9 years
The majority of Americans have used illegal drugs once in their lives. I think there are other aspects of a person's life that reflect more about their character than if they have ever abused a substance before.
MandyJoBo MandyJoBo 9 years
I'm on the fence. I do question someone's character when they do drugs, but I also think it makes his character stronger by quitting and not allowing himself to become an addict. However, I'm not falling for any "I did drugs, I'm just like you!" BS from any candidate. They only disclose because they have to. It's the old debate of whether or not to disclose to your children that you were once what you're trying to keep them from being. MOST people choose not to tell them, but if they had another set of parents, or three or four, who all did that and it backfired, you would tell them! He's not stupid; his people aren't stupid. They can see what happened to say, Clinton, and I'm sure it was also a nice little bonus poke at Hilary.
AbbyHintz AbbyHintz 9 years
you take me too seriously---
TechnoMom TechnoMom 9 years
That's a silly assumption, AbbyHintz. My partner and I are definitely NOT Republican, but neither of us have ever tried pot or anything other illegal substance. He just wasn't interested. I've had dangerous reactions to so many prescribed medications that there's no way I'd ever risk putting Goddess-knows-what, bought off somebody on the street, into my system. My daughter has more drug allergies than I do, and I pray that she won't feel a need to experiment along those lines, either. On the other hand, my girl's biofather turned into Mr. Conservative Republican, and he did pot and coke earlier in his life, according to him. The people I knew from school who did the most drugs are all Republicans now, too. Republican doesn't mean "doesn't do drugs" and Democratic or Libertarian doesn't mean "does drugs." Republican does usually mean they support the war on drugs, but all of them that I know think that all applies to "those people" (meaning poor, minorities, etc.).
AbbyHintz AbbyHintz 9 years
...I have to question any democratic candidate who has not used drugs. Either they aren't being honest, or they're closet-Republicans.
Renees3 Renees3 9 years
Drug use is not really an issue to me. I'm more curious as to how he wants to handle our growing substance abuse issues. Reagan decided to criminalize addicts, putting them in jail. That has backfired on us, in CA the jails are 80% full of addicts. How about getting them some help? Believe me when I say jails are not there to rehabilitate. If anything, you learn more in there on how to be a better addict. I'm a little biased on the issue, being an addict with 5 years clean. I spent time in jail for my crimes and have come out a better person. I was lucky enough to get the help I needed and am now in turn able to help others. I wish more people cared about this problem instead of a presidential candidate that did something when he was a teen that MOST people do as teens.
madam-pince madam-pince 9 years
I'm with The Missus.
grrlyrebel grrlyrebel 9 years
Everyone has made decisions that they aren't proud of. It's refreshing that presidential candidates are willing to admit lapses in good judgment and be honest with their constituents.
AlyCat82 AlyCat82 9 years
Prior drug use can be a valid issue in an election. I would not want to vote for a candidate that had a substance abuse problem, say, last night. Substance addiction does show a lack of some character attributes that are essential to being a good president; however the lack of said attributes, like maturity, reasoning skills, and understanding of consequences are also frequently common in youths. It is precisely because someone is young and immature that someone would make such a choice. (This argument only works for a candidate that used drugs as a youth...I would have to formulate a different one for a candidate with a current addiction. I understand this.) For this reason, prior drug use can be blown (way) out of proportion, especially when a candidate experimented twenty or thirty years ago. I feel that when candidates are honest about their youth, they should not be penalized, especially when it is something so trivial. I would much rather that the media's attention stayed focused on policy, ideas, initiative, and voting records. By critiquing someone's high school record, we take our attention off of issues that are of grave importance to this nation.
alllacedup alllacedup 9 years
The only way it would make a difference to me is if the candidate said they hadn't and really had. I liked that Obama was open and honest about his past use. It showed me that hopefully he will be open and honest about other things as well.
anned anned 9 years
I don't think it has an impact, but it is best to disclose that info.
Kristinh1012 Kristinh1012 9 years
Is pot still a drug?
remedios remedios 9 years
I don't care what someone did, drugs or otherwise, in a past life. I only care about who that person is now and who that person will be when leading. I don't like hypocrisy though, so how that person responds to others who are in the position that s/he once was matters.
Neechee51 Neechee51 9 years
It's not an issue to me...perhaps it would help some of our current leadership to loosen up a bit.
baltimoregal baltimoregal 9 years
At least Obama admits to his indiscretions- and not because he has to. And he doesn't minimize them, either. Bush- well we all know he is a liar about his past- it's been proven, hasn't it?
gooniette gooniette 9 years
I don't care what they used as long as they didn't hurt other people in the process.
TechnoMom TechnoMom 9 years
I do see it as a major problem with Bush, who was a habitual user long past his "youth." He's a hypocritical as they come. However, I admire those who, like Obama, admit what they did in the past. I'd be thrilled to have a president in office who would stop funding or otherwise supporting the ridiculous "war on drugs," and I think that's more likely with someone who honestly admits to experimentation. Because of the legal concerns in the U.S., I do have to question the integrity and judgment of a candidate who has used illegal substances in the past. If he did so after taking up any kind of legal office, including being an attorney (an officer of the court), he was flouting the laws he swore to uphold. I know that alcohol can be every bit as destructive, but the legalities are different. I'd much prefer a candidate who neither smokes nor drinks nor uses illegal substances and who has honestly never been a habitual user of any of the above, as that would show a better track record in terms of discernment than use does.
samantha999 samantha999 9 years
It depends on when they did the drugs and what they did - 18 years old is one thing but at 30 its says irresponsible. Maybe drug test for the candidates would not be a bad thing. I also would not want a former heroin or crack addict in the oval office.
kitkatherine kitkatherine 9 years
i dunno. there is a part of me that doesn't like that. i think of my neighbors, who smoke pot in our apartment even though it is strictly not allowed and drink every weekend / every other weekend. and if in a few years, they stopped, and wanted to become the next president, i couldn't deal with it. because they aren't good people now, and i don't know if people can change that much. i guess it doesn't really affect some of these candidates, it just scares me a bit and has a negative impact on my opinion. i mean it's been illegal for awhile, it's illegal. if he was like "hey, yeah, i robbed a house once" people would flip. they are both illegal.
Jinx Jinx 9 years
I'm not sure, some knowledge might be an asset. :)
popgoestheworld popgoestheworld 9 years
I love Obama's quote! It's so refreshing when someone doesn't try to hide every damn thing they ever did. It's like, he comes out and says, this is what happened, and then everyone forgets! Unlike Clinton whose "I never inhaled" crap has been a joke for years now. Anyway, I mostly agree with the others, that past drug use doesn't bother me. But I actually realized I would feel very differently if the drug use was recent. I mean, if 20 years ago, someone running for president did cocaine, well, who cares. BUT, if someone did it last year, even though they aren't doing it this year? Well, that just wouldn't sit right with me.
kirsten kirsten 9 years
"We all make mistakes," i don't think drug use is a mistake! is it a mistake to drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes? the difference only lies in what american law has to say about it. my vote is for honesty, integrity, ability, and good policy, regardless of the substances a candidate has used/uses.
flutterpie flutterpie 9 years
i really dont think it has an impact but i would also prefer that that any of candidates to have not spent any time in rehab.
pinkdragonfly pinkdragonfly 9 years
It doesn't affect my vote either way.
wren1 wren1 9 years
I don't care at all, if it's past. I was soooo wild in high school, and I don't think it would affect my ability to govern today.
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