The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

On marijuana, Bernie Sanders is kind of a disappointing socialist ex-hippie

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) questions Federal Reserve Bank Chairwoman Janet Yellen as she testifies to the Joint Economic Committee during a hearing entitled 'The Economic Outlook,' on Capitol Hill on May 7, 2014. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

Bernie Sanders moved to Vermont in 1968, during a mass "hippie migration" that attracted young people eager for a new life and experimenting with communal living. It's the sort of thing that evokes folk music and drugs, but Sanders wasn't exactly your stereotypical hippie.

In an interview with Yahoo News' Katie Couric, Sanders said he tried marijuana but wasn't a fan.

"Because I coughed a lot, I don't know," he said. "I smoked marijuana twice, didn't quite work for me. ... It's not my thing, but it is the thing of a whole lot of people."

[Bernie Sanders: From hippie migrant to would-be president]

In the history of Democratic presidential politics and pot, this is a notable milestone. In 1992, Bill Clinton said he tried it but "didn't inhale." By 2003, John Kerry and John Edwards admitted during a debate to using marijuana, and in 2006, Barack Obama said he smoked and he inhaled because "that was the point." To have a candidate like Sanders say they didn't like it almost feels like a step back at this point.

And it's not just his personal habits on which Sanders isn't as progressive as you might think. He's actually pretty timid when it comes to his views on legalization. At least 70 percent of liberals and a majority of moderates have supported legalizing marijuana for the entirety of the 2010s, according to Gallup, but Sanders said he prefers to look at what happens in Colorado and other states that have legalized it for recreational use before commenting on his policy views. He does think things have to change with our drug enforcement, however.

"What I can tell you is this: We have far far far too many people in jail for non-violent crimes, and I think in many ways, the war against drugs has not been successful, and I think we've got to rethink that," he said.

So that's a strong maybe on a future President Sanders pushing for legalized marijuana. He's not your stereotypical candidate, and he's not your stereotypical hippie migrant Vermonter either.