The meticulous biographer David Maraniss revealed President Barack Obama's early girlfriends in an excerpt of his forthcoming biography, and now the Internet is seizing upon new details of the president smoking marijuana with his buddies at the Punahou School in Hawaii.
Politico's Playbook teased the following excerpt from "Barack Obama: The Story," which will be published in June but is already viewable on Google Books. "When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted 'Intercepted!' and took an extra hit," Maraniss writes. But Obama's buddies, who called themselves the "Choom Gang," didn't mind him messing up the rotation. (After all, this was Hawaii.)
That's not all. Maraniss writes that Obama was known for starting a trend called "TA," short for "total absorption."
"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.
Maraniss also describes Obama's technique of "roof hits" while hot-boxing cars. "When the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling," he writes.
The fate of their dealer, Ray, was far more tragic than those of Obama and his largely privileged pals. In a scene that could've been in a Quentin Tarantino movie, a "scorned gay lover" later killed Ray with a ball-peen hammer.
The Huffington Post can't independently verify the claims of Maraniss, who won a Pulitzer Prize for National Reporting in 1993.
Obama has been less than shy about his drug use in the past, writing about the topic in "Dreams from My Father." "Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it," he writes in the memoir.
Obama's tone grows darker, and drugs are an escape for the young Obama, who is facing questions about his own identity:
Junkie. Pothead. That's where I'd been headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man. Except the highs hadn't been about that, me trying to prove what a down brother I was. Not by them, anyway. I got high for just the opposite effect, something that could push questions of who I was out of my mind, something that could flatten out the landscape of my heart, blur the edges of my memory. I had discovered that it didn't make any difference whether you smoked reefer in the white classmate's sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you'd met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids who had dropped out of school and now spent most of their time looking for an excuse to brawl.
As Obama moved to higher stage, he's also been forthcoming about drug use. On Bill Clinton's personal triangulation that he had tried marijuana but "didn't inhale," Obama said smiling in 2006, "That was the point, wasn't it?"
Later in "Dreams from My Father," one of Obama's friends was arrested for drug possession and his mother, home from Indonesia, confronted him about it in his room, and he walked out.
The fun continued for Obama at Occidental College in Los Angeles, but he became much more serious after transferring to Columbia University after his sophomore year, when he lived, in his words, "like a monk."
Below, where you can find legalized medical marijuana in the United States:
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