In honor of President’s Day, you may be surprised to learn that many of our nation’s leaders were 420 friendly. Sure, we’ve all seen the photo of President Obama smoking a spliff, but it turns out many of our former Commanders-in-Chief used cannabis in one way or another. Through historical documentation and research, we can confirm at least several modern Presidents used marijuana recreationally. Others range from hearsay to possible hemp consumption. Either way, the following Presidents are just a handful of our nation’s Commanders-in-Chief who were fans of cannabis:
President Obama famously said, “When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point,” while running for president in 2008. He also admitted to using marijuana in his memoir, Dreams from My Father. With all the pro-cannabis legislation he helped enforce in the final part of his term, it was clear he favored the plant more than his predecessors.
George W. Bush
The younger Bush may have admitted to plenty of other bad habits but has always been reluctant to claim cannabis. However, in a conversation taped by former George Bush Sr. aide Doug Wead, “Dubya” tacitly acknowledged marijuana usage. “I wouldn’t answer the marijuana question,” he says. “You know why? ‘Cause I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.”
Slick Willie once famously said, “When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and I didn’t like it. I didn’t inhale and never tried it again,” when asked about his marijuana use. But that may not be the whole story. Christopher Hitchens attended Oxford University around the same time as Clinton. In his memoir Hitch-22, he wrote, “He preferred, like many other marijuana enthusiasts, to take his dope in the form of large handfuls of cookies and brownies.”
John F. Kennedy
JFK was known to use different medications to treat an injury he received while serving during World War II. Some accounts, including “John F. Kennedy: A Biography”, described this White House scene: “On the evening of July 16, 1962, according to [Washington Post executive] Jim Truitt, Kennedy, and Mary Meyer smoked marijuana together. … The president smoked three of the six joints Mary brought to him. At first, he felt no effects. Then he closed his eyes and refused a fourth joint. ‘Suppose the Russians did something now,’ he said.”
Yes, our nation’s founding father has a history with marijuana. Like other presidents of the same period, George Washington grew hemp. In a letter he wrote, “Began to separate the male from female plants rather too late…Pulling up the (male) hemp. Was too late for the blossom hemp by three weeks or a month.” Most interpret this letter as meaning he was trying to cultivate the female plants to have a higher THC content; however, several historians consider this highly unlikely (no pun intended).
But the list doesn’t stop there – several other U.S. Presidents have been known to utilize cannabis. That list includes other heavy hitters from American history including John Adams, James Madison, and Thomas Jefferson. But James Monroe might be the ultimate presidential stoner. It’s been well documented that as an ambassador to France (before his presidency) he openly smoked hashish and supposedly did so until his death. Can’t stop progress.