Pubdate: Mon, 12 Feb 2007
Source: Belfast Telegraph (UK)
Copyright: 2007 Belfast Telegraph Newspapers Ltd.
Author: Andrew Buncombe
Bookmark: (Cannabis)
Bookmark: (Cocaine)


Bill Clinton famously admitted to having smoked  marijuana but denied 
having ever inhaled. "When I was  in England, I experimented with 
marijuana a time or  two, and I didn't like it," he said. "I didn't 
inhale  and never tried it again."

His successor, George Bush, while acknowledging a  near-alcoholic 
past, refused to say whether he had ever  taken illegal drugs. In 
1999, he said: "I've told the  people of this country that, over 20 
years ago, I made  some mistakes when I was younger. I've learnt from 
those mistakes."

But a generation later there seems to be less  bashfulness about the 
topic and controlling the message  appears to be the key.

Barack Obama, the Democratic senator who has formally  announced his 
bid to become America's first black  president, long ago admitted 
taking both cannabis and  cocaine while he was a teenager. In a 1995 
memoir,  Dreams From My Father, he wrote: "Pot had helped, 
and  booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it.  Not smack 
[heroin] though."

Mr Obama has also stressed his activities were part of  a youthful 
behaviour he has long left behind and which  he does not condone. In 
an interview with The State  Journal-Register newspaper of 
Springfield, Illinois, he  said: "I was a confused kid and was making 
a bunch of  negative choices based on stereotypes of what I 
thought  a tough young man should be. Those choices were  misguided, 
a serious mistake. Growing up to be a man  involves taking 
responsibility. By the time I was 20, I  was no longer engaged in any 
of this stuff."
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