Republican presidential candidate Jeb Bush again acknowledged smoking pot in high school, as part of a sharp exchange during Wednesday's GOP primary debate on the topic of criminal justice reform.
The exchange began when fellow GOP candidate Rand Paul argued about the “hypocrisy” of poor, black and Hispanic people going to jail for drug use while “rich kids” don’t.
“I would like to see more rehabilitation and less incarceration,” said the Libertarian-minded Paul, a leader on Capitol Hill for such reform.
“I think the federal government has gone too far. I think that the war on drugs has had a racial outcome, and really has been something that has really damaged our inner cities.”
Bush, a former Florida governor, said: “So, 40 years ago, I smoked marijuana. And I admit it. … My mom's not happy that I just did.”
Earlier, he had acknowledged in January that he drank and smoked pot while in prep school at Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass.
Bush also said the country has a “serious epidemic of drugs” but suggested that Colorado was within its rights to essentially legalize marijuana because it was a states issue.
In addition, he suggested that government should play the consistent role of providing more treatment and more prevention. And he agreed with Paul that drug courts should be used more often, “to give people a second chance.”
However, they disagreed about legalizing medical marijuana, which Paul supports. Paul said Bush, as Florida governor, opposed medical marijuana.
“You'll actually put them in jail,” he said.