Marco Rubio’s 'pot' hole

Jonathan Karl, Richard Coolidge and Jordyn Phelps
Power Players

Politics Confidential

Why won’t Sen. Marco Rubio say whether he’s ever smoked pot?

The Florida Republican, 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 know, I enjoyed your book, but I want you to know, my son came up to me and 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 and look how successful he's been,’” Rubio recalled.

“And that impacted me,” he said of the encounter.

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.”

On the topic of 2016, Rubio is up front in acknowledging that he’s exploring the possibility of a bid for the White House. When asked if he believes he’s ready for the job, Rubio replied: “I do, but I think that's true for multiple other people that would want to run.”

The senator said he plans to make his final decision whether to run by the end of this year or early next year.

“I'll look at a number of factors, personal factors, but also whether I could best promote this message… and actually put in place these ideas that I want to see put in place, whether I could best do that from the presidency as opposed to the Senate,” Rubio said.

Should he decide to run, Rubio will face the unusual situation of being up for reelection in the Senate the same year as the presidential election.

To hear if he plans to try and run two elections at once, check out this episode of “Politics Confidential.”

ABC News’ Stephanie Smith, Alexandra Dukakis, and Tom Thornton contributed to this episode.

Tom Manning and Mark Suse assisted in the production of this episode.