Mayoral Candidates Come Clean About Drug Use

by Jessica Levy
      TAKING A CUE from the Presidential race, where George W. Bush’s waffling about his drug use in his younger days has become a national news story, the Chronicle has conducted a survey of some of the more prominent Mayoral candidates.
      The question was:

“Have you ever used marijuana, cocaine, heroin or amphetamines?”  Here are the responses:

       David Tufaro, Rep.: “The answer is ‘no.’ ...But I do think we’ve gone a little too far with usage [of all drugs]. In this country [we] depend on all kinds of drugs for all kinds of reasons. We look for a quick fix. ...I don’t think people [who use illegal drugs] ought to have a permanent blot on their records, though.”
       A. Robert Kaufman, Dem.: “In the ’60’s I was at a lot of parties where they passed around a [marijuana] cigarette. I puffed and inhaled. But only once. Nothing happened. But I’ll tell you, if I knew then what I know now I would have smoked more... One of the mainstays is to take the profits out of drugs; treat it as a health problem, not a crime. [If a drug user] can go to a clinic to get whatever he or she needs [for a fraction of the street cost] I can tell you what the effects would be: the very next day dealers wouldn’t have to shoot anybody; they’d be out of business.”
       Carl Stokes, Dem.: “No”--response delivered by a campaign aide.
       Gene Michaels, Dem.: “Never used anything. I was an athlete and I didn’t want any of that stuff in my system. I only ever smoked cigarettes, [but] I quit smoking in ’85. I don’t even drink.”
       Carl Adair, Rep.: “No. I never even drank alcohol.”
       Lawrence Bell, Dem.: (The following account was provided by a campaign aide, as Mr. Bell was not available.) On the morning of August 24, WBAL channel 11 asked Mr. Bell if he thought the public had a right to know about the past of any candidate for any office. The aide quoted Mr. Bell as saying: “The public needs to know they have a stable leadership.” To our question speficially about drug use, the aide said the answer is “no.” But the aide did go on to say Mr. Bell “believes in the value of redemption. The stigma [of past drug abuse] needs to be gotten over.”
       Martin O’Malley, Dem.: “No.”

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This story was published on September 1, 1999.