Quite frequently, in fact. In his 2004 memoir “Dreams from My Father,” he wrote “Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it.” In 2007, when asked about President Clinton's famous claim that he did not inhale, Obama shot back smiling with a little bit braggadocio, exlaiming: “That was the point, wasn't it?” Yes, sir. Today, a few more details about the President's marijuana habit during his younger years have surfaced, thanks to a new book by his biographer David Maraniss. A fantastic excerpt of Maraniss' “Barack Obama: The Story” is printed in the June issue of Vanity Fair. Go read it and be informed.
Below, I've excerpted five amazing new revelations about the President of the United States' smoking habits, from his days in Hawaii with a group of buddies known as the “Choom Gang” to his college years at Occidential in Los Angeles. Props to Buzzfeed and Huffington Post for helping to contextualize the details.
He frequently used a method called “total absorption”:
A self-selected group of boys at Punahou School who loved basketball and good times called themselves the Choom Gang. Choom is a verb, meaning “to smoke marijuana.”
As a member of the Choom Gang, Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called “TA,” short for “total absorption.” To place this in the physical and political context of another young man who would grow up to be president, TA was the antithesis of Bill Clinton's claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled.
He was known for breaking puff-puff pass protocol (to the left, always) with “interceptions”:
Barry also had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted “Intercepted!,” and took an extra hit. No one seemed to mind.
“Roof hits” were a thing:
Along with TA, Barry popularized the concept of “roof hits”: when they were chooming in the car all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.
“Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated”:
When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang for marijuana, meaning “numbing tobacco”) instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around. “Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated,” explained one member of the Choom Gang, Tom Topolinski, the Chinese-looking kid with a Polish name who answered to Topo.
He liked hanging out and going on “high adventures,” including going swiming:
Their favorite hangout was a place they called Pumping Stations, a lush hideaway off an unmarked, roughly paved road partway up Mount Tantalus. They parked single file on the grassy edge, turned up their stereos playing Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult, and Stevie Wonder, lit up some “sweet-sticky Hawaiian buds” and washed it down with “green bottle beer” (the Choom Gang preferred Heineken, Becks, and St. Pauli Girl).
Choom Gang members often made their way to Aku Ponds at the end of Manoa Stream, where they slipped past the liliko'i vines and the KAPU (keep out) signs, waded into waist-high cool mountain water, stood near the rock where water rushed overhead, and held up a slipper (what flip-flops are called in Hawaii) to create an air pocket canopy. It was a natural high, they said, stoned or not.
He was surrounded by a bucket-list of premium Hawaiian kush:
In the Honolulu of Barry's teenage years marijuana was flourishing up in the hills, out in the countryside, in covert greenhouses everywhere. It was sold and smoked right there in front of your nose; Maui Wowie, Kauai Electric, Puna Bud, Kona Gold, and other local variations of pakololo were readily available.
He had a dealer who worked at a pizza shop too:
He was a long-haired haole hippie who worked at the Mama Mia Pizza Parlor not far from Punahou and lived in a dilapidated bus in an abandoned warehouse. … According to Topolinski, Ray the dealer was “freakin' scary.” Many years later they learned that he had been killed with a ball-peen hammer by a scorned gay lover. But at the time he was useful because of his ability to “score quality weed.”
In another section of the [senior] yearbook, students were given a block of space to express thanks and define their high school experience. … Nestled below [Obama's] photographs was one odd line of gratitude: “Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times.” … A hippie drug-dealer made his acknowledgments; his own mother did not.
In college at Occidential, his dorm hall was home a 3-foot bong and a “Barf Couch” that he christened:
(The main hallway at Haines Hall was called the Annex,) home to the impromptu Annex Olympics: long-jumping onto a pile of mattresses, wrestling in underwear, hacking golf balls down the hallway toward the open back door, boxing while drunk. There were the non-Olympic sports of lighting farts and judging them by color, tipping over the Coke machine, breaking the glass fire extinguisher case, putting out cigarettes on the carpet, falling asleep on the carpet, flinging Frisbees at the ceiling-mounted alarm bell, tasting pizza boxes to the floor, and smoking pot from a three-foot crimson opaque bong, a two-man event involving the smoker and an accomplice standing ready to respond to the order “Hey, dude, light the bowl!”
The Barf Couch earned its name early in the first trimester when a freshman across the hall from Obama [in the Haines Hall Annex dorm at Occidental College] drank himself into a stupor and threw up all over himself and the couch. In the manner of pallbearers hoisting a coffin, a line of Annexers lifted the tainted sofa with the freshman aboard and toted it out the back door and down four steps to the first concrete landing on the way to the parking lot. A day later, the couch remained outside in the sun, resting on its side with cushions off (someone had hosed it clean), and soon it was back in the hallway nook.
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