Presidents who loved to get high
February 16th, 2019

Here’s to the Presidents Who Loved to Get High

There's plenty of good stuff to celebrate this President's Day — like all the Presidents before us who loved weed too. Even if they didn't inhale. (Okay, Bill.)

President’s Day is a funny one to celebrate, especially given everything, but let’s try to celebrate it anyway. We can focus our energies on former U.S. presidents, ones who’ve loved the plant as much as we do. And then we can appreciate that cannabis laws have lightened up (a lot) over the past few decades. The future is bright.

Whether these leaders used weed to ease injuries after WWII (hi JFK!) or totally didn’t inhale (that’s you, Bill Clinton!), these are six presidents who had a soft spot for the plant. And who can blame them?

1. Barack Obama

Not only did Obama smoke weed as a teen, he was a bonafide member of the “Choom Gang” — a group he started with his high school friends. In David Maraniss’ biography of the former president, Barack Obama: The Story, it’s revealed the politician and his friends would park their Volkswagen minibus at Mount Tantalus in Oahu to smoke joints and drink beer. And now we know what heaven looks like.

2. John F. Kennedy

While the stories haven’t been officially confirmed, it was widely reported by various outlets throughout the decades that late President John F. Kennedy used cannabis medicinally to treat injuries, including back pain, sustained during World War II. He also later used the plant to deal with symptoms of Addison’s Disease, a life-threatening adrenal disorder. Then there’s the juicy side to JFK’s relationship with weed: It was reported in the tabloids that he was introduced to cannabis through his mistress — while in the White House!

3. Bill Clinton

Unlike Obama, Clinton never actually admitted to using cannabis. He admitting to smoking it but contended that “didn’t inhale.” According to Time, during his 1992 presidential campaign, he said: “I’ve never broken a state law. But when I was in England I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale it, and never tried it again.” Fortunately for old Bill, weed is becoming legal in more places, so even if he did inhale, that’s cool. (Although it should be noted a lot of the “anti-drug” legislation Clinton put in place — like mandatory minimum sentences — have contributed to a disproportionate number of minorities being imprisoned for non-violent drug offences.)

4. George Washington

Like other Founding Fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, George Washington grew hemp. But he also may have been one of the early adopters of medical cannabis. According to one of the first President’s letters, Washington suggested he was trying to grow female plants with higher levels of THC. “Began to separate the male from female plants rather too late…” he wrote. “Pulling up the (male) hemp. Was too late for the blossom hemp by three weeks or a month.” He allegedly used cannabis to ease the pain of his dentures, which were made from hippopotamus ivory, gold springs, and brass screws. (Well, that’s weird.)

5. George W. Bush

In his own words, Bush “didn’t behave that well” when he was young. “I might’ve smoked something, for instance,” he revealed to Jay Leno on The Tonight Show. (Nothing to be ashamed of, George.) What is shameful, however, is opposing the legalization of cannabis, despite health and economic benefits. Bush’s fictional version of himself seemed a lot more fun — he smoked weed with Harold and Kumar on their way to White Castle.

6. Andrew Jackson

Andrew Jackson, the 7th president of the United States, along with other presidents like Zachary Taylor, was rumored to have smoked cannabis alongside his troops during wartime. Jackson reportedly appreciated the therapeutic benefits of the plant. It should be noted that while weed use is widely prohibited in the U.S. Army today, there have been discussions in the past few years to lessen the punishment and allow waivers for legal marijuana users.

So, go on now, pack a pipe. Or roll yourself a joint golder than Trump’s toilet — at least in honor of the progress we’ve made in the world of cannabis. And then look to some CBD to get you through the horrors of what we’ll call everything.

Written By
About Sarah Beauchamp

Sarah is a culture, politics, and entertainment writer in Brooklyn with bylines at Teen Vogue, NYLON, Huff Post, Bustle, Vanity Fair, Daily Beast, Vulture, O, The Oprah Magazine and and and.

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