Pubdate: Thu, 14 Jun 2012
Source: Sacramento News & Review (CA)
Copyright: 2012 Chico Community Publishing, Inc.
Author: David Downs


How Does Obama's Pot-Smoking Youth Align With the Federal Crackdown?

A new biography by The Washington Post's David Maraniss titled Barack 
Obama: The Story, out June 19, has been making waves, initially for 
its detailed descriptions of the president's weed-smoking days in Hawaii.

Obama described some of it in his autobiography Dreams From My 
Father, but Maraniss goes into detail: Barack hung with a group of 
smart kids who liked to smoke weed and called themselves "the Choom 
gang," choom being Hawaiian slang for smoke.

Hawaii of the early 1970s was something of a pot-smoking mecca, 
Maraniss notes. "It was sold and smoked right there in front of your 
nose; Maui Wowie, Kauai Electric, Puna Bud, Kona Gold, and other 
local variations of pakalolo were readily available."

Unlike President Bill Clinton, who claimed he did not inhale, the 
Choom Gang would penalize tokers who exhaled too quickly for 
violating the gang's policy of "T.A." or "total absorption."

A regular bunch of hotboxers, the gang did "roof hits" off the 
vehicles they smoked out of. Young Obama was known for calling 
"Interception!" when he interrupted the smoking circle rotation to 
take an extra puff.

According to excerpts: Obama's pal Mark Bendix had a Volkswagen 
microbus known as "the Choomwagon." They would often drive up 
Honolulu's Mount Tantalus where they parked, "turned up their stereos 
playing Aerosmith, Blue Oyster Cult and Stevie Wonder, lit up some 
'sweet-sticky Hawaiian buds' and washed it down with 'green-bottled 
beer' (the Choom Gang preferred Heineken, Becks, and St. Pauli Girl). 
No shouting, no violence, no fights; they even cleaned up their beer bottles."

Plenty of folks are wondering how the president aligns the 
experiences of his youth with his position at the helm of an 
unprecedented federal crackdown on lawful California dispensaries in 
several states. Obama himself has said the federal government is not 
targeting individuals complying with state law, but that cannabis is 
still federally illegal. The Drug Enforcement Administration and 
Department of Justice cannot sit idly by as a cannabis industry 
rapidly matures.

About 58 percent of Americans say they support legalizing the drug if 
it was sold at pharmacies. However, a popular majority does not equal 
political potency; votes and dollars do. Barack Obama: The Story 
illustrates the president's cool, smart and maybe overly calculating 
personality development-pretty much the last guy to take a 
politically risky leap for legalization.

All choom, no fire, apparently.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom