Kentucky Senator Rand Paul may have given a small clue as to why he has been so lenient towards marijuana legalization. In an interview last week, the Republican hinted that he smoked marijuana in his youth, but said that voters shouldn’t confuse his push for reduced criminal penalties for drug offenses as some sort of endorsement of drug use.
He explained, “Let’s just say I wasn’t a choir boy when I was in college and that I can recognize that kids make mistakes, and I can say that I made mistakes when I was a kid. I think drugs, marijuana included, aren’t good for you. I don’t want to be someone who is seen as being this person advocating for drug use. I think they’re not a good idea.”
Last month, Paul told a group of law students at Northern Kentucky University he wouldn’t support lifting the federal ban on marijuana use, but also didn’t want the federal government to try and overturn state laws that have made the drug legal.
During his TV interview, Paul said he has focused on reducing criminal penalties for some nonviolent drug offenses, which he said have been administered unfairly and disproportionally impact the nation’s minorities. He also claimed that the past three presidents “either admitted or skirted around the issue” of using illegal drugs in their youth.
Last week, Paul also announced plans to seek re-election to the Senate in 2016 and is exploring a run for president.