Editor’s Note: With his unexpected win in South Carolina last Saturday, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich just rocketed to the center of the Republican stage. Guest blogger Kelsey Harclerode’s examination of Rick Perry’s record on drugs drove him out of the race last Thursday. What effect will her withering gaze have on the newly resurgent Newt?
I have something to admit…Newt Gingrich and I are practically inseparable. You see, we attended mass together at the Basilica of the National Shrine of Immaculate Conception and now we are BFF. Points readers can rest assured that I am definitely most qualified to write this profile (and of course there is no conflict of interest!). Below I present not merely my own personal knowledge of the candidate, but a carefully researched brief on a bevy of drug policies that former House Speaker Gingrich has sponsored, supported– and then opposed.
Is Gingrich a flip-flopper on drug issues the way he is on religious affiliation? A few flashbacks may help us answer that question: in 1981, Gingrich co-sponsored a bill with Representative Barney Frank that attempted to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes. The bill failed, but Gingrich continued to publicly support medical marijuana in a 1982 open letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association(JAMA), which praised that organization for discussing weed’s medical benefits and lambasted outdated federal policy that “deprives [patients] of medical supervision and denies them access to a regulated medical substance.”
Gingrich’s support for marijuana did not end with medical uses, either, but extended into the recreational realm. In 1995, he not only admitted to smoking marijuana during his college days, but (unlike the chastened Rick Santorum) also praised the pleasures of pot, stating that smoking “was a sign we were alive and in graduate school in that era.”
But if dedicated support for an issue (whether revolutionary or not) is usually a commendable aspect in Washington, we can hardly call Newt a weed warrior.