Newt Gingrich said Wednesday that the founders of the United States would have dealt violently with marijuana growers, despite the fact that they grew the plant for commercial purposes themselves.

He said at an town hall event in New Hampshire that decriminalizing drugs like marijuana would increase the rate of addictions and increase crime.

"In general, I'd like us to be as drug free as possible and I think that it requires a much more serious approach."

Gingrich was later asked if former Presidents Thomas Jefferson or George Washington should have been arrested for growing marijuana.

"I think Jefferson or George Washington would have rather strongly discouraged you from growing marijuana and their techniques with dealing with it would have been rather more violent than our current government," he responded.

Both Washington and Jefferson grew marijuana on their Virginia farms. At the time, the plant was used to make a number a products, such as rope and textiles. It did not become a widely-used recreational drug in the United States until the 20th century, but some academics have claimed that at least seven early U.S. presidents used the drug in the form of hashish.

Gingrich has previously called for a more aggressive drug policy, including the death penalty for drug smugglers.

Watch this video from CNN, uploaded Jan. 4, 2012.

With reporting by David Edwards

[H/T: Sam Stein]