Jeb Bush Says Family Went Through "Hell" During Daughter's Drug Abuse

By McCarton Ackerman 11/05/15

The Republican candidate had a rare humanizing moment when talking about his daughter's struggle with addiction.

Jeb Bush
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Jeb Bush has made vague references on the campaign trail to the former drug struggles faced by his daughter, Noelle, but went into greater detail for the first time in a new interview.

Speaking on his campaign bus during a stop in New Hampshire, Bush spoke about how his daughter’s struggles affected the whole family as part of a segment for the Huffington Post web series, 16 and President. He acknowledged that she “went through hell, and so did her mom and so did her dad ... it became very public when I was governor. And it wasn’t easy.”

Noelle, now 38, was arrested on several occasions in 2002 for charges including prescription drug fraud and possession of crack cocaine. A judge eventually sent her into a court-ordered rehabilitation center, but workers at the facility eventually found crack cocaine hidden in her shoe. Noelle was sentenced to 10 days behind bars in October 2002.

“I never expected to be seeing my beautiful daughter in jail,” said Bush. “It’s very debilitating when you have a loved one who’s struggling and you can’t control it. I don’t know what it’s like to lose a daughter. But I almost did.”

However, Bush was roundly criticized at the time of his daughter’s arrests because his policies supported much harsher treatment of drug offenders than Noelle received. In 2002, Bush opposed a ballot initiative in Florida that would send up to 10,000 non-violent drug offenders throughout the state into treatment instead of prison.

He has more recently opposed initiatives in the state to legalize marijuana for either medical or recreational use. Last year, he spoke out against the proposed “United for Care” amendment in Florida, which would have enabled physicians to prescribe medical marijuana for people with terminal illness or other debilitating medical conditions. Bush claimed it would ruin the state’s reputation as “a family-friendly destination for tourism and a desirable place to raise a family or retire.”

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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.