Why Obama May Bogart Colorado's Stash - NBC Chicago
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Why Obama May Bogart Colorado's Stash



    Barack Obama probably will not be inviting the Choom Gang to the White House.

    The Choom Gang was a group of stoners Obama hung out with at Punahou Academy in Honolulu. Actually, he didn’t just hang out with them. As with every other organization he’s joined in his life, from the Harvard Law Review to the U.S. Senate, Obama was a leader of the pot smokers. David Maraniss investigated the Choom Gang for his biography Barack Obama.

    “As a member of the Choom Gang,” Maraniss writes, “Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends.”

    The first Obama-inspired trend: “Total Absorption” or “TA”.

    “TA was the opposite of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled,” explains Maraniss. Here’s how it worked: If you exhaled prematurely when you were with the Choom Gang, “you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around.”

    As one of Obama’s old high school buddies tells Maraniss: “Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated.”

    Another Obama innovation: “Roof Hits.”

    “When they were chooming in a 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.”

    Maraniss also says Obama was known for his “Interceptions”: “When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted ‘Intercepted!,’ and took an extra hit.”
    Obama also joked about his marijuana use on The Tonight Show. When Jay Leno asked whether he’d inhaled, he responded, “That was the point.”

    Now, though, Obama is The Man. As the chief executive of the United States of America, he’s in charge of enforcing the nation’s marijuana laws. Which is why the Washington Post is predicting he’ll narc on Colorado and Washington, which last week passed laws allowing recreational use of marijuana.

    The most likely outcome will be that the Justice Department will prevent the laws from going into effect by announcing that federal law preempts the state initiatives, which would make marijuana legal for recreational use, law enforcement sources said. But the White House and the Justice Department have not made a decision yet, senior officials said.

    Those states may just have to settle for their medical marijuana laws. It ends up being the same thing. My hometown of Lansing, Mich., in a medical marijuana state, has nearly 50 dispensaries, with such names as The Popcorn Bag, The Hidden Leaf and The Herbal Connection. Most vending machines by the door, stocked with munchies. There aren't that many people in Lansing with glaucoma. My friend Marty, who has been smoking weed since high school, now has a prescription for “anxiety.” It’s that easy. You can tell a doctor, “Um, I’m too ambitious and driven, and I need something to take the edge off that,” and get a slip entitling you to all the pot you need. Marty says the medical stuff is better and cheaper than the stuff his dealer sold him.

    Obama doesn’t have a problem with you and your Choom Gang smoking pot. He only has a problem with you saying you’re doing it for fun.


    This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $9.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.