For the first time, a sitting congressman has come out of the cannabis closet. On May 24, Republican Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (California) made history on by admitting that he used marijuana medicinally.

The 69-year-old congressman - who chairs the subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia and Emerging Threats - opened up about his use while addressing members of the National Organization for Reforming Marijuana Laws (NORML) on Capitol Hill. He told the crowd that he relaxes when he's away from Washington, D.C. by surfing - a hobby he had enjoyed for decades until arthritis recently prevented him from chasing waves.

"I haven't been able to go surfing for a year-and-a-half and I've been in severe pain," Rohrabacher explained, adding that the discomfort also prevented him from sleeping. But he found a remedy while visiting a hemp fest in San Bernardino, California.

"It's a candle," the former speechwriter for President Reagan told the NORML reps. "And you light the candle. And a wax is in there. And it melts down. And you rub it on whatever you've got problems with. And you know what: I tried it about two weeks ago. And it's the first time in a year and a half that I had a decent night's sleep because the arthritis pain was gone."

Marijuana advocate tries it for the first time

This isn't Congressman Rohrabacher's first controversial stand on the issue of marijuana. He cosponsored the rider in the federal budget that prevents the Department of Justice from spending money to crack down on states with medical marijuana programs. He has fought for the rights of states to legalize medical marijuana as well as hemp. And in 2014, he became the first sitting Republican congressman to support recreational marijuana use.

But this is the first time that Rohrabacher has admitted to using marijuana himself. And he joked about that milestone with the crowd from NORML after making the historic revelation.

"Now don't tell anybody I broke the law," he told the laughing audience. "The bottom line is: There's definitely cannabis in there. And it makes sure that I can sleep now."

You can listen to his full comments on CannabisRadio.com, courtesy of Russ Belville.

h/t New York Times, Forbes, Christian Science Monitor

banner image: Flickr / Gage Skidmore