A biography of former US President Barack Obama speaks of the president’s high school years when he used to smoke marijuana. The story is not new. Obama himself admitted to marijuana smoking in his youth, in the autobiography he published in 1995 (Dreams of my father).
Obviously, this former habit of the president has woken up many dissatisfactions, but Obama is by no means the first president of the United States to have consumed drugs, and more certainly it will not be the last. In fact, the history of American presidents with such habits begins with the history of the American state, from the Founding Fathers.
Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, also had a drug problem before his political career. But he preferred not to talk about it, unlike Obama, just declaring he had not touched drugs since 1974. However, information on Bush’s past suggests that the former president had a rather agitated lifestyle, consuming both marijuana and cocaine.
And Bill Clinton could be included on this list. The former president has publicly admitted that he tried marijuana in his youth, but that he did not really feel the effects. The confession was made during a 1992 TV show during the election campaign. Clinton admitted he tried marijuana, but did not inhale the smoke, so he did not feel the effects of the drug.
Instead, the situation is quite different in the case of JFK. Of all US presidents, he probably had the most complex “relationship” with drug use. Like about 42% of today’s Americans, Kennedy has tried marijuana in his youth, as Kennedy’s former friend Kennedy knew during his college years. In a book released last year, she tells her that on a vacation in Jamaica, Kennedy has lit up a joint.
But the drug use of the beloved JFK president is not limited to marijuana. He was addicted to drugs. Kennedy took a lot of medication for various medical problems that the American public knew nothing about. Thus, among other things, he took codeine, demerol, and methadone for pain; Ritalin, a stimulant, meprobamate, and librium for anxiety states, barbiturates for sleep problems.
President Franklin Pierce (1853-1857) had a strange way to motivate people on the battlefield. According to contemporary sources, he used to smoke marijuana with the soldiers. In fact, during the US-Mexican war, Pierce would have said the only good thing about the conflict was that he could smoke cannabis.
Before cocaine became a highly controlled substance, it was legally available on the market and used as a remedy against pain, despite the fact that it created addiction. President Ulysses S. Grant (1869-1877) suffered from cancer of the throat and used cocaine drops regularly to relieve pain. Grant seems to have consumed cocaine while he wrote his personal memoirs (Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant). The president would remain addicted to this drug until he died.
And Andrew Jackson (1829-1837) occasionally smokes marijuana in public. Like Pierce, he used to smoke with the soldiers on the battlefield.
Thomas Jefferson, the third president of America and one of the Founding Fathers, was the owner of a vast plot of the hemp plant. If Jefferson used to smoke his harvest is still a topic of debate among historians. There is a quote attributed to the president – “Some of the best days I spent on my back porch smoking hemp and observing the horizon,” but it could not be found anywhere in his writings.
George Washington, perhaps the most admired and appreciated figure in US history (alongside Lincoln) was not just an ordinary marijuana consumer, but also a supporter of using hemp as an exchange currency. Washington also cultivated hemp and since it is known that she suffered from a toothache, he may have used hemp to relieve these pains.