Has House Democratic Leadership Smoked Pot?

One top Dem created some confusion Tuesday morning. But there’s no doubt that times are changing.

Marijuana leaves. 
National Journal
Elahe Izad
Add to Briefcase
See more stories about...
Elahe Izad
April 8, 2014, 8:48 a.m.

Nearly 50 per­cent of adults say they have used marijuana, so just how many mem­bers of Con­gress fall in­to that camp? It’s un­clear, but one top House Demo­crat has left re­port­ers won­der­ing wheth­er he’s danced with Mary Jane be­fore.

House Minor­ity Whip Steny Hoy­er was asked to com­ment on Mary­land Gov. Mar­tin O’Mal­ley’s de­cision to sign a state marijuana-de­crim­in­al­iz­a­tion law. “The Le­gis­lature has passed it. Es­sen­tially, when you say they de­crim­in­al­ized it, as I un­der­stand, that means simply no con­sequence for a small amount and a fine for a lar­ger amount,” Hoy­er told a room of re­port­ers Tues­day. “It’s clear that we have an aw­ful lot of people in our pris­ons who are suf­fer­ing from a crim­in­al con­vic­tion, which have done things — I’m not go­ing to ask for a show of hands. If I did, I could raise my hand, I just don’t know how many oth­ers in the room could raise their hands.”

Laughter erup­ted in the room, with some ask­ing for a cla­ri­fic­a­tion: What are you rais­ing your hand in say­ing?

“It was subtle,” Hoy­er said. “The use there­of, or the try­ing there­of, in­hal­ing or not.” An at­tendee offered, “ex­per­i­ment­a­tion,” to which Hoy­er re­peated, “ex­per­i­ment­a­tion.”

So has Hoy­er toked up be­fore? Ac­cord­ing to his press of­fice, it’s in­cor­rect to in­fer that he said he’s tried marijuana.

“Mr. Hoy­er has not used marijuana,” spokes­per­son Stephanie Young said via email. “His point was that this is­sue af­fects many people and he be­lieves the Mary­land Gen­er­al As­sembly took the right step to de­crim­in­al­ize marijuana.”

Hoy­er has pre­vi­ously said that he didn’t sup­port the Mary­land de­crim­in­al­iz­a­tion bill, par­tic­u­larly after con­ver­sa­tions with those in drug re­hab­il­it­a­tion char­ac­ter­iz­ing marijuana as a gate­way drug that can lead to use of harder drugs. “But hav­ing said that, I cer­tainly wouldn’t cri­ti­cize the gov­ernor for sign­ing the bill,” Hoy­er said Tues­day.

Per­haps the real ques­tion is, which mem­bers of Con­gress haven’t toked up? It’s not as ta­boo as it once was for a prom­in­ent politi­cian to ad­mit to past us­age. Re­call Pres­id­ent Clin­ton’s in­fam­ous “I didn’t in­hale” line from 1992. Now we have Pres­id­ent Obama openly dis­cuss­ing his past drug use.

Demo­crat­ic Rep. Jared Pol­is of Col­or­ado has es­tim­ated that five to 10 mem­bers of Con­gress are reg­u­lar marijuana users (which means not just “tried once”). How did he come up with that fig­ure? He sup­posed that the same pro­por­tion of mem­bers of Con­gress reg­u­larly use the sub­stance as do av­er­age Amer­ic­ans.

Up­date (2:40 p.m.): In a state­ment later in the day, Hoy­er said he was “un­clear” when dis­cuss­ing Mary­land’s marijuana le­gis­la­tion. “The point I tried to make was that I wasn’t go­ing to ask for a show of hands of people who haven’t tried marijuana ““ be­cause if I did, I would prob­ably be one of very few who could raise my hand.”

What We're Following See More »
NEW TRAVEL BAN COMING SOON
Trump Still on Campaign Rhetoric
1 hours ago
UPDATE
“WE’RE CHANGING IT”
Trump Rails On Obamacare
1 hours ago
UPDATE

After spending a few minutes re-litigating the Democratic primary, Donald Trump turned his focus to Obamacare. “I inherited a mess, believe me. We also inherited a failed healthcare law that threatens our medical system with absolute and total catastrophe” he said. “I’ve been watching and nobody says it, but Obamacare doesn’t work.” He finished, "so we're going to repeal and replace Obamacare."

FAKE NEWS
Trump Goes After The Media
1 hours ago
UPDATE

Donald Trump lobbed his first attack at the “dishonest media” about a minute into his speech, saying that the media would not appropriately cover the standing ovation that he received. “We are fighting the fake news,” he said, before doubling down on his previous claim that the press is “the enemy of the people." However, he made a distinction, saying that he doesn't think all media is the enemy, just the "fake news."

FORMER KENTUCKY GOVERNOR
Steve Beshear to Give Democratic Response on Tuesday
2 hours ago
THE DETAILS
FBI TURNED DOWN REQUEST
Report: Trump Asked FBI to Deny Russia Stories
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"The FBI rejected a recent White House request to publicly knock down media reports about communications between Donald Trump's associates and Russians known to US intelligence during the 2016 presidential campaign, multiple US officials briefed on the matter tell CNN. But a White House official said late Thursday that the request was only made after the FBI indicated to the White House it did not believe the reporting to be accurate."

Source:
×
×

Welcome to National Journal!

You are currently accessing National Journal from IP access. Please login to access this feature. If you have any questions, please contact your Dedicated Advisor.

Login