Posted but not written by: Louis Sheehan
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Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush smoked marijuana while in high school, a personal use of the drug that stands in contrast to his later political stance on the plant.
“I drank alcohol and I smoked marijuana when I was at Andover,” Bush, the current Republican frontrunner seeking his party’s 2016 presidential nomination, told the Boston Globe as part of a detailed new profile that describes his time at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts. Both George H.W. Bush, Jeb’s father, and George W. Bush, his brother, also attended the prestigious private school.
“It was pretty common,” Bush said of his substance use during that time. A former classmate of Bush’s, Peter Tibbetts, recalled to the newspaper that the first time he ever smoked marijuana was with Bush, in some woods near their dorm.
“The first time I really got stoned was in Jeb’s room,” Tibbetts told the Globe. “He had a portable stereo with removable speakers. He put on Steppenwolf for me.” Tibbetts was eventually forced to leave the boarding school after being accused of using drugs.
As a politician, Bush has not embraced marijuana. He spent much of his time as Florida governor championing jail instead of treatment for nonviolent drug offenders, and pushed for mandatory prison sentences for drug offenders — with the exception of his daughter, Noelle, who has struggled with crack cocaine use.
More recently, while acknowledging that states should “have a right” to decide on the legalization of marijuana, Bush publicly opposed an amendment to legalize medical marijuana in Florida.
“Florida leaders and citizens have worked for years to make the Sunshine State a world-class location to start or run a business, a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire,” Bush said before the November midterm election. “Allowing large-scale marijuana operations to take root across Florida, under the guise of using it for medicinal purposes, runs counter to all of these efforts.”
Reacting to the Globe story, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) blasted Bush over his “hypocrisy” on marijuana.
“You would think he’d have a little more understanding then,” Paul, who may be a rival to Bush in the Republican primary, told The Hill Friday. “He was even opposed to medical marijuana. This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do.”
The Globe also spoke to some of Bush’s former classmates, who recalled a “physically imposing” young man who was seen as intimidating by some and a bully by others. Tibbetts recalled a story to the newspaper of an occasion during their boarding school days when he and Bush taunted a smaller student who lived in their dorm by sewing his pajama bottoms so that the student couldn’t put them on.
Bush told the Globe he didn’t remember the incident or any other bullying, and was surprised that some of his former classmates viewed him that way. “I don’t believe that is true,” Bush said, adding that it was more than 40 years ago and not possible for him to remember.
It isn’t the first time that allegations of bullying have surfaced about Bush’s high school years. Another classmate of Bush’s told Vanity Fair in 2001 that he remembered Bush as a bully as well, and that there was “a kind of arrogance” about him during his time at Andover.
The Globe story echoes similar sentiments expressed in a 2012 Washington Post story about then-presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney and alleged bullying during his prep school days.
A Bush spokeswoman told The Huffington Post that Bush did not have any additional comments on the Globe story.