by Steve Champman for the Chicago Tribune
Judging from recent history, any young person who aspires to be president should be aware that certain attributes seem to be critical. You have to be male. You have to have an Ivy League degree. You have to have been a governor or senator. And, don’t forget, you have to have smoked marijuana.
That is something all the presidents in the past 20 years have in common. Bill Clinton admitted it, while claiming he didn’t inhale. George W. Bush refused to deny getting stoned, saying, “When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible.”
Barack Obama said, “When I was a kid, I inhaled. That was the point.” Presumably, Mitt Romney never did, and who knows? Maybe he’d be ahead in the polls if he had — though, he might note, it’s never too late.
Logicians will quarrel with my reasoning, arguing that drug use did not propel these men to high office. That’s true. But it obviously didn’t hinder them.
For decades, champions of the drug war have trumpeted the dire risks of marijuana. But millions of Americans have used and even enjoyed it — nearly 100 million, in fact. Most of them have gone on to lead responsible, well-adjusted lives.
If anything related to pot would have kept them from being elected to office, it would be the laws against it. An arrest or a conviction could derail a political career before it even got started. Yet these presidents went on putting people in jail for something they got away with.
Their fellow citizens, however, are increasingly skeptical about the drug war. Last year, Gallup found that 50 percent of Americans now favor legalizing cannabis, with only 46 percent opposed.
The sentiment may lead to action. On Nov. 6, residents of Colorado, Oregon and Washington will vote on ballot measures to allow the regulated production, sale, and use of pot.Details