Raleigh, N.C. — Libertarian U.S. Senate candidate Sean Haugh says he smokes marijuana.
Haugh made the statement during an interview with Matt Laslo, a Washington, D.C.-based political reporter whose side project, "Bills and Brews," focuses on craft beer. Laslo interviewed Haugh earlier this month in Durham.
Most of the conversation was about craft beer. Haugh is usually drinking a beer in the YouTube videos his campaign releases.
However, when the topic turned to drug legalization, one of Haugh's platform issues, Laslo asked the candidate if he smokes marijuana.
"I have on occasion, I'm not afraid of it and I don't have a problem with people who do," Haugh responded.
Laslo asked Haugh whether he has smoked marijuana during the current campaign.
"I actually do," Haugh replied. "This is the first time I’ve ever admitted it to anybody, but this is the first time anybody’s ever asked me directly."
"You know, I'm 54. I have arthritis, but I don't have arthritis pain, thanks to that," Haugh said with a smile, adding that it also helps ease pain from a carpal tunnel problem. "It has a lot of real medical benefits."
"How's North Carolina weed?" Laslo asked.
"Certainly a hell of a lot better than what I saw in the '70s," Haugh answered.
Asked to comment on the video, Haugh confirmed that it was an accurate representation of his remarks.
"I just don't see it as that big a deal, considering our last three presidents all admitted to it as well," Haugh told WRAL News on Monday.
Marijuana is classified as a controlled substance under North Carolina law, and possession of the drug is a misdemeanor that can carry probation, fines or even jail time for large quantities or intent to distribute. However, law enforcement officers in some areas often don't pursue convictions for possession of small amounts for personal use.
Asked whether he was concerned that his remarks might draw the attention of law enforcement, "No, I'm not terribly worried about trouble with the law. I'm more worried about all the people whose lives have been ruined because of this insane war on drugs."
Just last week, the conservative group American Freedom Fund began running online ads in support of Haugh, apparently trying to attract young voters who favor legalization of marijuana but might otherwise vote for Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan.
Haugh said he welcomes the ads and any support they generate.
"These ads came as a complete surprise to me. The source makes the intent obvious," he said. "I'm happy when anyone promotes my message accurately and tells anyone why they should vote Libertarian."