Daniels talks past drug use, arrest
February 24th, 2011
08:57 AM ET
7 years ago

Daniels talks past drug use, arrest

(CNN) – Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels not only smoked pot, he inhaled.

But the potential Republican presidential candidate said he learned a valuable lesson when, while a student at Princeton University in 1970, he was arrested and convicted for possession of marijuana – a crime that carried a $350 fine.

"I don't make excuses for anything. Justice was served," Daniels told the Daily Princetonian in an interview published Thursday. "I had used marijuana and I was fined for that, and that was appropriate."

According to the Daily Princetonian, Daniels was arrested after police officers discovered enough marijuana to fill two large shoe boxes in the dorm room he shared with two other individuals. Officers also found LSD and prescription drugs in the room.

"I had used marijuana and I was fined for that, and that was appropriate," Daniels also said, adding he fell victim to the cultural influences at the time.

"We were sort of swept up in the net … I was fined for the accurate offense and I've learned from it," he said.

Daniels also told the paper his college career as a whole marked an evolution in his political and moral views.

"I had an uncertain mooring back then. I don't think that is all that unusual at a time like that," he said. "Eventually I came to whatever is a principled and consistent view of the world. … Of course, college is supposed to force you to have to look at different views."

At one time, an admission of drug use was an almost-certain death knell for a national politician. In 1992, much was made of then-candidate Bill Clinton's reluctant admission that, while a graduate student in England, "I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn't like it. And, didn't inhale."

But the issue appeared essentially moot in 2008, when many presidential candidates admitted to marijuana use – especially then-Sen. Barack Obama who detailed his relationship with that and other drugs in the book "Dreams From My Father."

In fact, at a campaign stop in 2007, Obama even mocked Clinton's cautious words 15 years earlier:

"I never understood that line," he said. "The point was to inhale. That was the point."

Filed under: Mitch Daniels
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. Al-NY,NY

    who cares? I wouldn't vote for the guy but I am not really interested. If he dealt, then it would be more but this is nothing.

    February 24, 2011 09:05 am at 9:05 am |
  2. Realistic

    wow our politicians are humans also and make mistake. There are many who went to college and used drugs and some continue til this day. I do not have problem that he used drugs back in 70's, 41 years ago. However, if he was still using drugs now and getting high every weekend or everyday, I would have a problem with that. I do not want a drug user in the WH or someone getting high in the WH while making life changing decisions for all americans and the world.

    February 24, 2011 09:12 am at 9:12 am |
  3. lgny

    While there are many things to object about when it come to this gov, This conviction from 40 years ago is NOT one of them.

    That's ancient history and should remain so for every politician.

    February 24, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  4. Clwyd

    X-witches, drug addicts, mentally unstable candidates! Is that what the republican party has become? Can't you deal better if you want to portray your myth of upholding family values?

    February 24, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  5. Inmyopinion

    If President Obama was excused those same people will excuse Gov. Daniels.

    February 24, 2011 09:19 am at 9:19 am |
  6. Monster Zero

    Wow, I guess that makes him eligible for our highest office, or does he have to have dealt now to qualify?

    February 24, 2011 09:20 am at 9:20 am |
  7. gt

    come on man.....lol... were in debt up to our eye balls.. 2 wars... 9 % unemployment...no jobs...and you bring up a this... weak....

    February 24, 2011 09:22 am at 9:22 am |
  8. Matt

    Two SHOEBOXES of weed? I guess ol' Mitch should be glad he's white, because otherwise he might STILL be in jail for possession with intent to distribute. At the very least, he'd have a felony conviction which tends to limit one's electability.

    February 24, 2011 09:27 am at 9:27 am |
  9. JOhn

    Does anyone think this guy would have admitted this if there was not already a public record of it? I don't think smoking pot should effect anyones poltical chances but 2 shoeboxes full is called dealing. There are people speding thier entire lives in prision for this exact same thing. The war on drugs was a poltical slogan for votes, nothing more.

    February 24, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  10. Randy, San Francisco

    Ho hum...Prior use of marijuana is no big deal.

    February 24, 2011 09:28 am at 9:28 am |
  11. jp

    This is totally bogus – how is any fine appropriate for marijuana possession, especially coming from someone who has used it... Mitch Daniels – you're a phony.

    February 24, 2011 09:31 am at 9:31 am |
  12. Justin Jacoby Smith

    The book would be "Dreams From My Father," Mr. Mooney.

    February 24, 2011 09:32 am at 9:32 am |
  13. Swing vote

    Big friggin deal. I do not judge any person who has 'inhaled'. It is abusred the whole drug war in this county. It makes huge hypocrites out many people. Repugs and Democrats. It is a huge waste of resources. Police, courts, couties, judges.

    Consenting adults people. Get a clue and make pot legal. Tax it, use it as crop for clothing say. I know many professional people who part take. They are hard working, they are tax payers, they are decent good people.
    When will the government wake up?

    I do not think it makes this politican a bad person, if he was smoking now it would not make him a bad politican either. It would make him wayyyyy less stressed and it can help one get their Zen back.....I'm sure there will be rebuttals, mostly from the uptight crowd. {or they have not tried it} But, they have their own opinion as well.

    February 24, 2011 09:33 am at 9:33 am |
  14. Al

    Don't feel too bad Mitch Daniels everybody been their before.

    February 24, 2011 09:34 am at 9:34 am |
  15. Rick

    I didn't care for (or vote for) Mitch initially when he became governor of Indiana- forced us to go on DST, contracted out the Toll Road, some other questionable decisions- but he's actually grown on me as a stable, personable, professional, and business-minded individual who's been good for Indiana. He's been up front and a lot more centric than I'd expected him to be, and I find that refreshing. The marijuana is a non-issue and he'd be a lot better candidate for President than the hate-mongers, Tea Partiers, and Mama Grizzlies we're faced with now.

    February 24, 2011 09:43 am at 9:43 am |
  16. Sniffit

    Well, I think it was fairly clear to most of us with brains in our heads that he simply HAD to be on something strong while managing Bush's budget. Either that or he's just an evil little worker drone who complacently obeys the GOP hive-mind instructions received through his tinfoil hat to do everything in his power to hand absolute control of the country over to giant corporations and destroy the middle-class and labor rights in this country.


    February 24, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  17. T'sah from Virginia

    ["I had used marijuana and I was fined for that, and that was appropriate."] CNN posted this TWICE – I guess the first time it was stated was not enough???

    Daniels – that's FINE – you got caught up in the 60s, 70s, or 80s, 90s, 2000s – as far as we know – you may STILL be caught up – who cares!!!??? BUT you got caught with TWO SHOE BOXES of WEED??? Two Boxes??? Dang, that's not "caught up" with a "joint" or two – Sounds like you were "dealing" – and some LSD too???? Come on Now!!!

    I have a problem with Daniels just getting FINED for a TON of marijuana, along with LSD and Prescription Drugs. This is MORE THAN what a CRACK user would have… Right??

    February 24, 2011 09:54 am at 9:54 am |
  18. Tard

    He smoked pot in 1970?
    If he DIDN'T smoke pot in 1970 I wouldn't vote for him. Really.

    But, since he's an evil Republican, naturally this is a huge talking point, I get it.
    Hey, about Al Gore's kid SELLING DOPE, how come nobody ever talks about that?

    February 24, 2011 09:55 am at 9:55 am |
  19. Rick McDaniel

    College students all do things they shouldn't do, once away from their parent's oversight.

    Daniels is still the most sensible candidate to consider, at this time.

    February 24, 2011 09:56 am at 9:56 am |
  20. Bill

    This will be interesting. The dems gave Clinton a pass so they have nothing to say. the Repubs blasted Clinton so what will they say?

    February 24, 2011 10:01 am at 10:01 am |
  21. Arun

    Again it is ok for the party (republican) hypocrits to do it, but how dare anyone else do it!!

    February 24, 2011 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  22. Mike

    Isn,t it interesting how some people get caught with alot of pot and never go to jail!
    I wonder why???????

    February 24, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  23. james Miller

    Funny!!!! When they are caught red-handed, they ALL say they "learned a hard lesson". ----- Afterwards, they just learn to be more careful.

    February 24, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  24. Chas in Iowa

    It's about time to quit demonizing people who have smoked pot. It doesn't make you into and evil person or a criminal. It doesn't influence your political stance. It doesn't make you go nuts and kill people and eat babies.
    It is what it is.

    February 24, 2011 10:09 am at 10:09 am |
  25. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    At least he owns up to past mistakes. It isn't the best thing in someone's past, but he has been honest.

    February 24, 2011 10:14 am at 10:14 am |
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