November 26th, 2007
08:39 AM ET
10 years ago

Obama: Yes, I inhaled—that was the point

Obama discussed his past drug use Saturday.

AUDUBON, Iowa (CNN) - Earlier this week in New Hampshire Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama spoke candidly about his past experimentation with drugs and alcohol in high school, and on Saturday—after a question on medicinal marijuana—Obama was prodded a bit further and asked whether or not he had ever inhaled.

"I did," the senator from Illinois said to light applause. "It's not something I'm proud of. It was a mistake as a young man."

The question was a reference to a line made famous by former President Bill Clinton who, while admitting to trying marijuana, said he did not inhale.

"I never understood that line," Obama continued. "The point was to inhale. That was the point."

On the campaign trail on Saturday, GOP White House hopeful Mitt Romney said Obama's earlier comments set a bad example for young people.

"I agree with the sentiment that nobody's perfect and most of us, if not all of us, in our youthful years have engaged in various indiscretions we wouldn't want to have paraded in the front of a newspaper," the former Massachusetts governor said in New Hampshire. "On the other hand if we're running for president, I think it's important for us not to go into details about the weaknesses and our own failings as young people for the concern that we open kids thinking that it's ok for them."

On the issue of medicinal marijuana, Obama said that if the "best way to relieve pain and suffering is through medicinal marijuana," then it's something he's open to.

He added it would concern him much more if people were allowed to grow their own to use whenever they were simply "feeling really tense" and "needed a joint."

-CNN Iowa Producer Chris Welch

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • Iowa • Race to '08
soundoff (494 Responses)
  1. Markie "Choomer" Bee

    Obama is a liar, he didn't pay traffic tickets when he was in College until runs Presidential candidate 2007, is he honest? Well educated youth don't inhale drug, Obama's childhood is not a normal, I couldn't believe him to run the President of United States of America. How Obama supporters are blind or deaf, they think Obama is the most honest guy among the candidates, it was totally wrong, his honesty is lower than 17 other candidates. Obama's supporters are making mistake like Republicans. Obama should tell voters in the beginning why now? because people found that he inhaled drug, that's why he confessed now and let his supporters to believe his honesty. The other hand he used his drug experience for election, he didn't care young people's education, only think his election, how selfish and egoist he is. I worry about his candidacy, what is coming for next, this guy is disqualified for the President. We need honor student for the President.
    Posted By Kyu Reisch, Radcliff, Kentucky

    Kyu, Obama admitted his past use of drugs in his 1995 memoir “A Dream from my father” so this is really old news to his supporters. It wasn’t even a campaign issue in his state and U.S. senate races. A kid asked him a question about it and he answered it honestly. How did he use his drug experience as an election issue? Honor student? I think graduating magna cum laude from Harvard and becoming the first black editor or the Harvard Law Review qualifies him as an honor student.

    November 25, 2007 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  2. Jimmy, Ft. Lauderdale, Fl


    Hillary just wants to win. Then what can we expect, 4 more years of unresolved problems. I Dont trust her!
    There is such a hate for her by the repulicans that they will waste their time to make accusations, and a mired of problems for her throughout her presidency that we will be subject to via tabloid trash.
    Hillary just go away
    and to the fellow up top that throughout the 90's Bill Clinton numbers on job rates and deficit. BILL CLINTON IS NOT ON THE BALLOT. HE WILL NOT BE PRESIDENT.

    November 25, 2007 10:19 pm at 10:19 pm |
  3. Adelson, Rye NY

    Experimenting equals doing drugs how many times??? Using is the word not experimenting. Is Obama honest enough to tell us how many times he inhaled. Smoking dope 3 time a day for 5 years is not experimenting.

    November 25, 2007 10:24 pm at 10:24 pm |
  4. ashley foxworth, ms

    I think it is deplorable for any presidential candidate to give a perception to teenagers that drug and alcohol abuse is okay- just as long as you eventually stop. Leave religion and moral right and wrong out of it. The fact is drug use and underage drinking is illegal. It should in NO way be encouraged by a supposed role model to teenagers. This guy has had too many blunders. The not paying respect to our flag, drug abuse, not being up to par on foreign relations well enough to know our allies from enemies, etc. He is just not what I want to be portrayed as the highest American ranking citizen. NO NO NO.

    November 25, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  5. Shadizx

    You realize bush is an admitted cokehead and alcoholic. Obama's potheadedness is an upgrade then. So what you are trying to say is he will be better than bush and you are right.

    November 25, 2007 10:27 pm at 10:27 pm |
  6. RevRayGreen, Google Me IOWA

    I had a beer before I was of legal age and don't consider that a mistake, so using marijuana, God's medicine, should not be classified as a mistake.

    November 25, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  7. Ron Nebraska

    The standards of respectability for the position of the President have just dropped ten more notches.

    Posted By R.V. New Jersey : November 25, 2007 7:26 pm

    Nobody, NOBODY! has dropped the standards of respectability more than Karl Rove when he manipulated the ignorant to vote for a complete and utter incompetent such as George Bush. And unless some other Republican hack in the future comes up with someone dumber, nobody ever will.

    November 25, 2007 10:37 pm at 10:37 pm |
  8. JD, sf, ca

    Obama has lots of personal problems to be the next POTUS. I still cant get over the fact that he wouldn't place his hand over his heart nor recite the Pledge.

    November 25, 2007 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  9. tyrone, pa

    We need to stop wasting our time and asking such ridiculous questions. Who cares if he smoked a little bit of pot. The difference between him and Clinton was the fact that he addmitted to inhaling. He didnt have an idiotic response and say that he didnt inhale. I am sure Clinton lied about that too. The same was he lied about Monica! Surely many of YOU have smocked pot as well. I am also sure that many of you do today. We need to not waste time on these ridiculous subjects. It is not like he is a pot head today or a herion addict. THEN I WOULD CARE!

    November 25, 2007 10:46 pm at 10:46 pm |
  10. Wexford, PA

    Suffering from the most painful condition generally known to man, I can unequivequally state that marijuana does have a medicinal purpose. I have three seperate pain killer prescriptions... NONE of them work as well as a toke. I think anyone who has tried it can vouch for that fact. Coupled with that, the statement that 'he would consider it', leaves me feeling as if I may have to vote democrat for the first time ever.

    November 25, 2007 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  11. JR, houston, TX

    In many ways, Obama is so mediocre as a person and as a politician. If he were a white person, he may never get admitted to harvard university, or got elected as a senator.

    November 25, 2007 10:50 pm at 10:50 pm |
  12. William Courtland, Waterford, Ontario

    Either climb a mountain for your hydrogen and stay for a while, or inhale it.

    Marijuana is a religions experience but it is not realy a medicinal substance but for what hydrogen-enrichment will do for the body, which must be taken along with the downfalls of the silicate-ions and the carbons-molecules.

    Marijuana is not a pain-killer, historically opiates do that without actually killing the pain sensation.

    Yes free hydrogen will become active on the white blood cells.
    Yes inside the body hydrogen can equate to a three hydrogen solid state molecule, and marijuana may help preform this (but why and how must it be inhaled?)

    This in a world where alcohol is a cleaning product; of course it can clean meat before or during the cooking of it, but the alcohol should be evaporated off in the process.

    November 25, 2007 11:00 pm at 11:00 pm |
  13. Barry, Miami, FL

    JEDI in Des Moines wrote:
    "Obama's other personal character flaws now include: chain smoker, messy and stinky at home, drinking and goofing off in high school. Wow, what a poor role model for our children!"
    I grew up in Des Moines. You just described 70 percent of the population there. If that's your moral compass maybe you are the one that's holier than thou. No one will ever meet your criteria.

    November 25, 2007 11:03 pm at 11:03 pm |
  14. M.C., Miami Gardens, Florida

    Kudos to Obama for admitting the fact that he inhaled. What is the problem with that? I see nothing wrong with him admitting the truth. Consuming alcohol, cocaine, crack, marijuana, herione,popping pills;etc., are all form of drugs, they all give you an high. I can bet my life that many of you posting here are guilty of one of the before mentioned. But, I don't think you would be willing to admit it.
    We need more honest politician in Washington. There are too many politicians with skeltons in their closets. I am sure Hillary Clintons has more than her share of skeltons in the closet. She pretends to be a saint; the bad part about it, she wants us to believe that she has done no wrong.
    Obama 08!

    November 25, 2007 11:08 pm at 11:08 pm |
  15. Franco D, Tempe, Arizona

    Let me get this right, Romney's response was that he doesn't think various indiscretions should be paraded on newspapers. Well, how inane, if you're running for President of the United States, everything you have done (past and present) will be on the front of newspapers and on the internet. Maybe his honesty is what concerns these candidates who hide behind their campaign managers and "Spin Doctors". Unfortunately, I don't believe he will win the candidacy because America has not realized how much trouble it is in. Maybe and just maybe these candidates will see that America needs a President that will help motivate those who hold office and those who live in it, to rebuild and that each person in such a position of power will be held to the utmost level of esteem for the interest of this country. Homes are being lost, jobs are disappearing each day and yet we still hear on the news that the economy is on the climb. I guess if you bury your head and the sand long enough, maybe when you pull it out, things might be better.
    I admire Obama for his honesty. Too bad him and Hillary could not work together to

    November 25, 2007 11:20 pm at 11:20 pm |
  16. Jen, San Diego, CA

    Why is this news? Who hasn't tried pot? In my opinion, you should at least try it before you stand up in front of the nation and try to tell the people why it's so bad.

    November 25, 2007 11:23 pm at 11:23 pm |
  17. Anonymous

    WOW! 312 comments...why is it that there are so many comments when the topic is Obama?

    November 25, 2007 11:39 pm at 11:39 pm |
  18. Bailey, Bowie, MD

    I agree with others feelings that the only real tragedy is that Senator Obama feels his marijuana use is a mistake.

    I don't agree with youth use of any drug, but adults can choose tobacco, alcohol, or any number of forms of intoxification that present risks to the body (one might argue running for president is just that).

    That marijuana use presents health risks including addiction, but these risks are routinely shown to be less than alcohol or tobacco. And independant think tanks, various government reports (including our own), real world examples (a lower percentage of Dutch teens use pot than American teens) and that many Americans think adults should be able use use marijuana if theey choose.

    I do appriciate a reasonable level candor from Sen. Obama, but none of the main stream candidates, let alone the media, has engaged people to deal with a war some 30 years older than the war in Iraq. The war onthis weed has cost the taxpayer over $1 trillion and most high school students can still buy marijuana in any state in our nation.

    But hey, Barack, was honest about his mistake.

    November 25, 2007 11:48 pm at 11:48 pm |
  19. Rachel, Muncie IN

    His honesty is commendable. That's really all there is to say about that. It's more than you'll hear from a lot of other candidates. However, despite this honesty, and despite his charisma, I think he needs a bit more experience before being elected President...maybe in the next election or two...if he's still as honest then as he is now, and with the experience under his belt, he'll definitely have my vote.

    November 25, 2007 11:55 pm at 11:55 pm |
  20. Justin, Gilbert, AZ

    It's sad that this, not his stance on any particular issue, is making some of you say that you either will or will not vote for Obama. What does he think about the education system? The environment? Our wars? None of this matters to the sheeple of this country; we'd rather attack or support a candidate based on a soundbite chosen by some corporate hack with an agenda.

    November 26, 2007 12:22 am at 12:22 am |
  21. Mary, Mountain View, CA

    "I knwo we make mistakes, it is human nature, but as a man in his 40's with little politicla experience, a weak platform, and his race and controversial parentage, this comment only furthers the concern I have for his lack of presidential potential."

    Mary, you're kidding me, right? His race and "controversial parentage" is a concern for Obama's presidential potential? I suggest that you graduate from high school (should help to improve your apparent lack of reading comprehension) and go to college OUTSIDE the Bible Belt first before saying anything else blatently racist.

    November 26, 2007 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  22. Jessie Phoenix AZ

    Seriously, if people keep claiming that it is sending a wrong message to the youth of America that our president used drugs. Our last two presidents have knowlingly used drugs and admitted it. And if your kid cant decifer what is right and wrong you must be a bad parent and you are to blame for ruining the "poor children".

    November 26, 2007 12:24 am at 12:24 am |
  23. Faslane Vista, CA

    People, get over it, it's an herb!!! How many people do you know that got stoned and went out and killed someone? Or went home and beat their spouse because they were too stoned?

    It's 2007!! INHALE!!!

    November 26, 2007 12:25 am at 12:25 am |
  24. Danny Beaulieu, Gainesville, FL

    Anyone that is accusing Senator Obama of only bringing out this story now as a campaign strategy should read Dreams of my Father, his first bestseller published in 2004, in which he openly discusses this. I would suggest that critics of Senator Obama inform themselves before they post illiterate dribble on cnn.

    November 26, 2007 12:43 am at 12:43 am |
  25. Gene Michaels

    yeah thats wonderful that Mr. Obama has the cajones to take on marijuana. What's he gonna do about Bin Ladin?

    November 26, 2007 01:05 am at 1:05 am |
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