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Sen. Ted Cruz Smoked Marijuana as a Teenager

Mengwen Cao/KUT
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz at Governor Greg Abbott's election night party on November 4, 2014. Cruz says through a spokesperson that he smoked pot as a teenager but considers it a mistake.

As he ramps up a possible bid for the Republican presidential nomination, U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has revealed through a spokesperson that he "foolishly experimented with marijuana" once as a teenager, but feels it was a mistake and has never tried it since. 

An unnamed Cruz spokesperson made the revelation to the UK paper The Daily Mail. The Cruz campaign confirmed to KUT News that the report is accurate. 

The revelation comes just two days after the Boston Globe reported that former Florida governor Jeb Bush, also considering a White House run, smoked pot in college. That prompted a jab from Republican rival Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentuky), who labeled Bush a hypocrite. 

“This is a guy who now admits he smoked marijuana but he wants to put people in jail who do," Paul told the Hill. As for Paul, he has not admitted smoking marijuana but told Louisville TV station WHAS, “Let’s just say I wasn’t a choir boy when I was in college." 

When former Governor Rick Perry was asked by Jimmy Kimmel last year if he ever smoked marijuana, Perry responded, "No, thank God!" but added, "You don't want to ruin a kid's life for having a joint." 

Perry has said he favors policies that "start us toward decriminalization" such as forcing low-level offenders into drug courts instead of prisons. He also signeda bill in 2007 that gave local governments the option to "cite and release" people for marijuana possession. 

Marijuana could become a more prominent issue in 2016 than in previous presidential election cycles. Four states and the District of Columbiahave already voted to legalize recreational use of marijuana. Pro-marijuana activists are hoping to get initiatives on the ballot in Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Nevada in 2016, and Rand Paul could continue to push the issue during the Republican primary process. 

Nathan Bernier is the transportation reporter at KUT. He covers the big projects that are reshaping how we get around Austin, like the I-35 overhaul, the airport's rapid growth and the multibillion dollar transit expansion Project Connect. He also focuses on the daily changes that affect how we walk, bike and drive around the city. Got a tip? Email him at nbernier@kut.org. Follow him on Twitter @KUTnathan.
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