Rand Paul Says Pot Cuts IQ and Ambition

By Victoria Kim 07/12/13

The senator's claims about chronic pot use rile marijuana activists.

Anti-pot, anti-drug war Photo via

Senator Rand Paul's latest comment on marijuana has pro-pot activists a bit peeved. The self-proclaimed "constitutional conservative" US senator says in a Las Vegas Sun interview that chronic users "have a loss of IQ and a loss of ambition," and that his personal stance is that "marijuana use is not healthy." Despite this, the senator maintains his support for states' rights. "I support the right of the states to make the decision," he said when asked if he supports legal marijuana.

Paul is often outspoken in his criticism of the War on Drugs, but the likely 2016 presidential candidate's latest comments are "either pandering" or doing "some really smart coalition-building" according to NORML director Allen St. Pierre. "It was unfortunate, because Mr. Rand on the one hand is very critical of the drug war, but he wants to buffer his support by declaring, 'I don't smoke marijuana, I don't want my son to smoke marijuana, I don't want my dog to smoke marijuana,'" says St. Pierre. "He's carving out this fascinating position here." Though Paul's statement will rile most pro-pot people, he does not believe in prison sentences for minor, non-violent drug offenses.

His comment is based on "Reefer Madness-fueled fear-mongering instead of sound science," says Kris Hermes, spokesman for pro-medical marijuana group Americans for Safe Access. "Contrary to Senator Paul's unscientific assessment, there are more than 200 peer-reviewed studies that clearly show marijuana's medical efficacy," says Hermes. Mason Tvert, communications director of the Marijuana Policy Project, points to Paul's own marijuana use from his time at Baylor University: "As for loss of ambition, he himself used marijuana," says Tvert, referring to the bizarre "Aqua Buddha" anecdote—which involves a playful kidnapping and forced bong hits—that appeared in GQ in 2010. "I think if you use [marijuana] too much you won't show up for class," Paul said at an April 10 event at Howard University, "I think you'll eat too many Doritos." Perhaps the senator is speaking from experience?

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Victoria is interested in anything that has to do with how mind-altering substances impact society. Find Victoria on LinkedIn or Tumblr