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President Obama smoked pot in high school. Why is he against legalizing marijuana?

A new biography details Barack Obama's use of marijuana in high school and college, not unusual for a young man at that time. As president, Obama has taken a tougher line on drug use, including marijuana for medical reasons.


An unidentified man smokes medical marijuana during karaoke night at the Cannabis Café, in Portland, Ore. last year.

Rick Bowmer/AP

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When he was “drug czar” in the administration of George H. W. Bush, William Bennett was asked if he’d ever smoked marijuana.

“No,” he reportedly said, grinning. “Besides, I was very young at the time.”

Or as former president George W. Bush said when deflecting questions about his drug use decades ago, “When I was young and irresponsible, I was young and irresponsible.”

“Youthful indiscretion” is a phrase often heard among politicians in recent years – typically referring to extra-marital affairs (sometimes occurring when the adulterer was in his 40s).

When he wasn’t being questioned (or impeached) about his alleged womanizing, former president Bill Clinton acknowledged having smoked marijuana “a time or two” when he was a Rhodes Scholar in England – although he was quick to point out that he “didn't inhale and never tried it again.”

How much do you know about marijuana? Take our quiz.

Now it’s Barack Obama’s turn to come under scrutiny for drug use.

In his new biography “Barack Obama: The Story,” to be published next month but widely excerpted in the press, David Maraniss of the Washington Post details Obama’s marijuana smoking when the future president was a high school student in Hawaii.


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