Marco Rubio on Drugs



Medical marijuana could be OK, but not recreational use

Q: How do you feel about state legalization of marijuana?

RUBIO: Well, I've said that I'm open to medicinal uses of anything, and particularly marijuana. And if, in fact, it goes through the FDA process and you can come up with a proven medicinal benefit to that substance, I'm open to that. I'm not in favor of legalizing recreational marijuana, and I never have been.

Q: Would you then use the federal government to supersede the laws of states that have legalized?

RUBIO: Well, federal government needs to enforce federal law.

Q: You would enforce the law?

RUBIO: Absolutely. I believe the federal government needs to enforce federal law.

Source: Meet the Press 2015 interviews of 2016 presidential hopefuls , Aug 9, 2015

No responsible way to recreationally use marijuana

Rubio believes there is "no responsible way to recreationally use" marijuana, saying he thinks legalization of the substance would be "bad for the country."

In an interview, Rubio was asked whether he had ever smoked pot: "Here's the problem with that question in American politics: If you say that you did and suddenly there are people out there saying 'Well, it's not a big deal. Look at all these successful people who did it,'" Rubio said. "I don't want my kids to smoke marijuana. And I don't want other people's kids to smoke marijuana. I don't believe there's a responsible way to recreationally use marijuana."

He continued: "On the other side of it, if you tell people you didn't they won't believe you. The bottom line is, I don't think people should smoke marijuana." The senator has previously dodged the pot question, saying his own experience is "irrelevant" to drug policy.

Source: Huffington Post 2015 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 9, 2015

Legalizing would be a mistake; reduce sentences carefully

There is an emerging consensus that the time for criminal justice reform has come. But when we consider changing the sentences we impose for drug laws, we must be mindful of the great successes we have had in restoring law and order to America's cities since the 1980s drug epidemic destroyed lives, families, and entire neighborhoods. I personally believe that legalizing drugs would be a great mistake and that any reductions in sentences for drug crimes should be made with great care.
Source: Brennan Center for Justice essays, p. 95 , Apr 28, 2015

There is no responsible way to recreationally use marijuana

Why won't Rubio say whether he's ever smoked pot? Rubio, who maintains a strict stance against the legalization of marijuana, refuses to answer whether he's ever personally smoked it. Rubio told "Politics Confidential" that his silence on the matter is based on his belief that there is no "responsible way to recreationally use marijuana."

"If you say that you did, then suddenly there are people out there saying, 'Well, it's not a big deal,'" Rubio said. "On the other side of it is if you tell people that you didn't, they won't believe you." Rubio explained that his decision not to answer the question goes back to an encounter he had after publishing his memoir, "American Son." In the book, Rubio reveals that he was not a disciplined student in his youth and had a 2.1 GPA in high school. "Someone came up to me and said, 'You My son said he doesn't have to get good grades in high school, because look at Marco Rubio, he didn't do well in high school,'" Rubio recalled, "and that impacted me."

Source: Yahoo blog 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 19, 2014

Enforce federal laws even where states have legalized pot

While Rubio is mum about his own past regarding marijuana, he has strong feelings about marijuana legalization and is at odds with President Obama's handling of the issue. The sale and trafficking of marijuana remains illegal under federal law, but the Obama administration has decided not to enforce all aspects of the federal law in some states, including Colorado and Oregon, where the sale and use of recreational marijuana has been legalized under state law. Rubio said the federal law should be enforced in those states. "When something is legal, implicitly, what you're saying [is] it can't be all that bad, because if it's legal, it can't be bad for you," Rubio said. "And the bottom line is, I believe that adding yet another mind-altering substance to something that's legal is not good for the country. I understand there are people that have different views on it, but I feel strongly about that."
Source: Yahoo blog 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 19, 2014

Enforce federal law even in states with legal pot

Rubio discussed the legalization of recreational pot in Colorado and Washington: "Marijuana is illegal under federal law. That should be enforced," he said. "I believe that adding yet another mind-altering substance to something that's legal is not good for the country."

Rubio, however, has previously left the door open on medical pot, which will come up for a vote in his home state this November. "You hear compelling stories of people who say the use of medical marijuana provides relief for the thing they are suffering," Rubio said in a January interview. "So I'd like to learn more about that aspect of it, the science of it."

Source: Huffington Post 2014 coverage of 2016 presidential hopefuls , May 9, 2014

1987: Brother-in-law imprisoned for drug conviction

I had finally settled into life in Miami, and was happy we had moved back. But in October, our family's fortunes took a sudden turn for the worse. I came home from school one day and knew from the look on my mother's face that something terrible had happened. It was a look you expect to see when someone has been told they or someone they love is dying. And that's exactly how I felt when she told me that earlier that morning Orlando had been arrested on drug charges.

I was stunned by the news. Like my parents, I had never suspected Orlando was involved in a criminal enterprise. His arrest and subsequent trial and imprisonment distressed the entire family, but [my sister] Barbara and my parents bore the brunt of the hardships it caused. Even decades later, my sister and mother would be forced to relive the shame of the ordeal.

Source: An American Son, by Marco Rubio, p. 62 , Jun 19, 2012

1986 brother-in-law's drug bust unexamined until 2011

The Rubio family suffered a painful blow. On Dec. 16 police swept across Miami making arrests. The front page of the Miami Herald told the story of the bust of a major drug ring.

The alleged leaders were a father-son team, Mario and Guillermo Tabraue. Deep in the stories about the big bust almost as if it were an afterthought, was a list of 4 men who had been arrested. One of these men was Orlando Cicilia. He was married to Marco's older sister, Barbara. The indictment paints Cicilia as a kind of a middle-man, making a huge number of trips in 1985 & 1986 to deliver cocaine.

The drug bust would remain an unexamined episode in the Rubio family's story until a news report by the Univision network aired in 2011. The senator, who speaks so frequently about his family, had not mentioned it publicly, nor had his political rivals publicly used it against him. Marco was only 16 at the time of the arrest, and there has never been an accusation that he was involved in his brother-in-law's criminal activity

Source: The Rise of Marco Rubio, by Manuel Rogi-Franzia, p. 68-69 , Jun 19, 2012

Brother-in-law's trial prosecuted by House member's spouse

Marco's brother-in-law Orlando Cicilia went on trial in 1988. He was a minor defendant in a major case. The allegations in the trial were explosive enough that they led to the demotion of a high-ranking Miami police official after testimony alleging he cooperated with bribe-paying smugglers.

The prosecution stepped down in June 1988 and was replaced by Dexter Lehtinen, who was married to the Havana-born Republican politician Ileana Ros-Lehtinen. Dexter was a Democrat when they met, but switched to the Republican Party shortly before they married. Ros-Lehtinen would win an election the next year, becoming the 1st Hispanic woman elected to Congress. Later, she became the most senior Republican women in the US House of Representatives.

Cicilia received the 2nd longest sentence--35 years. It appears his sentence was later reduced to 20 or 25 years. The government seized his house after saying it could not find $15 million that he'd earned in the drug trade.

Source: The Rise of Marco Rubio, by Manuel Rogi-Franzia, p. 70-72 , Jun 19, 2012

Teach students skills to avoid gangs, violence, & drugs

Problem: Florida is witnessing growing rates of gang participation and gang-related violence. Local law enforcement agencies have identified over 760 gangs in a statewide database managed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Hate groups have also proliferated. The Southern Poverty Law Center found fifty hate groups active in Florida, second only to California.

The tragedy of Sept. 11 has revealed that gangs are also a threat to our domestic security. The deep infiltration of gangs in our society is extremely attractive to terrorist organizations.

Florida should increase funding for additional law enforcement resources to combat gang activities. Florida should pattern its gang elimination program after the successful Gang Resistance Education And Training (GREAT) program. GREAT is a curriculum-based program aimed at teaching students skills to help them avoid gangs, violence, and drugs.

Source: 100 Innovative Ideas, by Marco Rubio, p. 71-72 , Nov 1, 2006

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Page last updated: Jun 15, 2016