Jeb! Bush References Daughter's Addiction Struggles in Town Hall Meeting

By McCarton Ackerman 08/20/15

Bush raised the specter of his daughter's addiction without addressing his own draconian drug policies.

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When it comes to the effects of drug addiction on families, former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush made it clear that he has first-hand experience.

The Republican presidential hopeful addressed the country’s addiction epidemic during a town hall on Wednesday in Merrimack, N.H. During the discussion, he referenced his daughter Noelle’s struggles with substance abuse more than a decade ago.

"People need to stay together in this regard," he said. "And, look, I have some personal experience with this as a dad, and it is the most heartbreaking thing in the world to have to go through."

Noelle, who is now 38, was arrested on prescription drug fraud charges in January 2002 after attempting to buy Xanax with a forged prescription from a drive-thru window in Florida. She was arrested two other times, as well, for possession of stolen pills and crack cocaine.

Noelle has accompanied her father during several stops on the campaign trail this summer. Bush's own approach on the growing heroin and prescription drug problem is a “recovery kind of philosophy” which acknowledges that substance abuse is a “lifetime problem.”

However, his own drug policies as Florida's governor contradict his campaign rhetoric. In 2002, he actively opposed a ballot initiative that would send as many as 10,000 nonviolent drug offenders throughout Florida into treatment instead of jail. Bush also supported mandatory prison sentences for anyone convicted of drug trafficking that included the possibility of a life sentence, as well as more federal funding for all aspects of the drug war.

Bush's first-hand experiences with drugs actually go back to when he was a bullying pot smoker in high school, a moment in time he has since called “stupid” and “wrong.” Bush has opposed efforts to legalize pot for either recreational or medical use, despite his own personal use of the drug.

“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," he said last August. "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."

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.