New revelations from David Maraniss’ forthcoming book throw the President’s war on state-sanctioned medical marijuana dispensaries and his own personal behavior into stark relief. Though he remains the first chief executive to admit to smoking, inhaling, and enjoying the drug, the extent of his former habit was never really known. Until now.


Washington Post editor David Maraniss‘ forthcoming book Barack Obama: The Story at points describes the president’s marijuana hijinks during his high-school and Occidental College days. Book excerpts posted online reveal that young Barack Obama frequently smoked marijuana, and he and his “choom gang” developed clever strategies for how to better maximize the impact of the “sticky-green.”

In light of these stories, shouldn’t President Obama offer every American the right to “choom” (verb, to smoke marijuana), instead of continuing to lock up marijuana users for hitting three-foot bongs like he did?

And it just so happens that the excerpts from Maraniss’ book arrive the same week Penn Jillette delivered this scathing rebuke of Obama’s drug war hypocrisy, noting that if Johnny Law had ever caught up with the Choom Gang, he probably wouldn’t be where he is today:

Reason’s drug policy hound Mike Riggs tweets, “Obama smoked pot, gets the nuclear football. We smoked pot, and get to play football for one hour a day with supervision.”

According to a recent Rasmussen Poll, 56 percent of Americans favor an approach to marijuana policy that includes legalization, taxation, and harm reduction, rather than the drug war’s inheritance of high incarceration rates, police militarization, and the destruction of Mexican civil society.

This is the issue that will drive the most socially liberal voters to Gary Johnson this year, now that Obama has drawn a contrast with his challenger on same-sex marriage. Given the number of registered independents these days it’s futile to wonder whose camp Johnson will draw most from–talk of spoilage is a partisan guilt trip, nothing more–but  the thrill is gone for many of the young, temperamentally libertarian people who voted for Obama in 2008.

The drug war is the single biggest contributor to the skyrocketing incarceration rate in the United States. Studies typically estimate the percentage of the prison population imprisoned for nonviolent drug-related offenses at 20-25 percent, much higher for women and blacks.

Update: Riggs and Nick Gillespie point out some more amusing/callous hypocrisies: a young Obama who once bogarted many a joint–he called them “interceptions”–is now Bogart-in-Chief, and the man who punishes medical marijuana users used to punish his stoner friends for wasting weed.