Obama was a huge stoner back in high school and college. Enjoy the following excerpts from David Maraniss’ Barack Obama: The Story dealing with the elaborate cannabis culture surrounding the president when he attended Punahou School in Honolulu and Occidental College in Los Angeles.

The Choom Gang

A self-selected group of boys at Punahou School who loved basketball and weed called themselves the Choom Gang. Choom is a verb, meaning “to smoke marijuana.”


Total Absorption

As a member of the Choom Gang, Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called “TA,” short for “total absorption.” To place this in the physical and political context of another young man who would grow up to be president, TA was the antithesis of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled.


Roof Hits

Along with TA, Obama popularized the concept of “roof hits”. When they were chooming in the 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.



When you were with Obama 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. “Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated,” explained one member of the Choom Gang, Tom Topolinski, the Chinese-looking kid with a Polish name who answered to Topo.



Obama also had a knack for interceptions. When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted “Intercepted!,” and took an extra hit. No one seemed to mind.


Ray The Dealer

Ray was a long-haired haole hippie who worked at the Mama Mia Pizza Parlor and he was useful because of his ability to “score quality weed.” In another section of the yearbook, students were given a block of space to express thanks and define their high school experience. … Nestled below Obama’s photographs was one line of gratitude: “Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times.”


Obama’s Choom Gang Taiwanese News Animation

A User’s Guide To Smoking Pot With Barack Obama | BuzzFeed


  1. who cares? makes me like the guy even more…… down to earth, laid back, hippy stoner. Sounds pretty harmless and standard for the mid- late 70s on the west coast to me….


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