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. Allison, NH

    Pat, Huntington, NY: Sorry – you are wrong. If your friends are not actually inhaling – than they are really weird. Holding in their mouths like a cigar – well, I've never met anyone who ever smoked pot that did that..and I went to PSU!! Why do they not just buy a cigar??? Sorry, pot is nothing like nicotine in a ciggerette or a cigar. It does not give you a buzz just for holding it your mouth. The only way to truly get a buzz is to smoke it or actually eat it. For those who do say they get a buzz for "holding it in their mouths" probably actually inhaled some.

    Bill Clinton lied when he said the did not inhale. Either that or he tried to, but he couldn't because he was not used to inhaling anything. He didn't do it because he was smoking it like a cigar.

    I too believe there is no shame in smoking pot. I just watched my co-worker die from bone cancer. I bet you anything if given the chance – she would have smoked some pot to help her appetite or to take the edge off. Instead, she was given more drugs that weakened her and lessoned her quality of life. Anyone who's ever smoked pot in their life know's that stopping the use of medical marijuana is about the most rediculous thing imaginable but since too many people have this total misconception about it – including right will remain as status quo.

    Steve, Lyons, CO – you are so right!!

    November 26, 2007 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  2. Slick Willy

    "Hey Osama....have you got my stash, man?"

    November 26, 2007 02:42 pm at 2:42 pm |
  3. Jr., California

    To Monica, Georgia

    No, it is you who sounds stupid. You are going to support someone who is running for Commander in Chief who abused substances. He can't deal with terrorism high on "chronic". Get a life.

    November 26, 2007 02:47 pm at 2:47 pm |
  4. Jr., California

    To Monica, GA

    You can't fight terrorism high on Chronic. Maybe it is you who sounds stupid for supporting this behavior? Jr.

    November 26, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  5. Karl Weber III, San Antonio, Texas

    Barrack Hussein Obama should not be praised for his honesty. First off, he was not asked a question if he did drugs or alcohol, they asked what he was like in highschool? Second, he is in front of young influential teenagers. Thirdly, let's hear him be truthful about his politics, What really matters...

    November 26, 2007 02:51 pm at 2:51 pm |
  6. Chris, marietta, oh

    Honesty like this should not be punished. Clinton lied openly, everyone knew it, we blatantly elected a liar. Im a conservative 21 year old male, I have a lot more respect for this kind of honesty, this could potentially destroy him, but he tells it anyway.

    November 26, 2007 02:53 pm at 2:53 pm |
  7. Jes,Ukiah,CA

    Key to this comment is that it is in the past tense. I would not want a drunken president but I would not trust someone who had no reference points from their experience that are common for most people. Obama has more credibility, not less, for his disclosure

    November 26, 2007 03:03 pm at 3:03 pm |
  8. ronnie knoxville tn

    im a little nervous that the supposed future presidential 'contenda' keeps bragging on his drug usage. don't give this guy the keys to white house. don't give this guy the nuclear football

    November 26, 2007 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  9. trent porter, tx

    it's just weed, get over it.

    November 26, 2007 03:11 pm at 3:11 pm |
  10. ghj

    The Clinton News Network stoops to a new low with this non-story.

    November 26, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  11. Rose Tampa Fl

    Hey, what about George W Bush. He had a documented drug and alcohol past including DUI. Is this just more republican doublespeak? Do as I say and not as I do? I think the US has bigger things to worry about than Barack Obama inhaling or not.

    November 26, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  12. Dave Diamond, Mont Vernon, NH

    if he doesn't understand Bill Clinton's comment, he just wasn't paying attention. Clinton's point was that he was trying to try it, but he wasn't very good at it. Go ahead and take your cheap shots at Hillary Clinton, Sen. Obama, but please leave Bill Clinton out of this.

    November 26, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  13. Rob Cuba, NY

    Obama, never a President of the USA, why not, he is Muslim, cannot "HONESTLY" take the oath of office if he were elected, and the oath is sworn on the Holy Bible, NOT the Koran, and this is "ONE NATION UNDER GOD" not Allah! He should have never made it into the arena based on this alone!
    But excuse the hell out of me for trying to step on someone's "civil liberties".

    November 26, 2007 03:42 pm at 3:42 pm |
  14. Steve Mc. Gig Harbor,WA.

    Isn't usings cocaine and other illegal drugs a felony? So how can a
    "Felon" run for U.S.presidency? Isn't
    this ALSO against the law? Yes! It is against the LAW for a felon to run for President of the United States of America.
    This makes me wonder, what other laws
    has Senator Obama broken?

    November 26, 2007 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  15. Randy S. Lawton, OK

    Rob Cuba, are you really that ignorant?
    First of all, Obama is NOT Muslim, inform yourself, moron.
    Secondly, in case you did not know this, God and Allah are one and the same, they are both the God of Abraham. Again, inform yourself, moron.
    Finally, there is no law that says the oath of office has to be sworn on a Bible. So, based on your false assumptions, you would deny someone the right to run for the presidency based on their religion. Have you read the Bill of Rights lately? Once again, inform yourself moron.

    November 26, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  16. Dakota, Denver, CO

    Honestly who cares if Obama tried marijuana or not as a kid? Marijuana should be legalized and is not a bad thing. I'm sure there are much more serious things these politicians are doing but not admitting to. So good, be honest. And I firmly believe in the legalization of marijuana, it would be more of a positive thing that not.

    November 26, 2007 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  17. from Europe

    It's a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World

    You Americans are really crazy (days and over 400 posts on an insipid topic). This guy would be the best to represent your craziness, just don't expect respect from bringing him up on the political arena.

    November 26, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  18. strangeisntit

    Isn't it slightly weird that Obama would be concerned if people smoked pot when they were tense and "needed a joint" when millions of people every single day have cigarettes, beers, cigars and various "tinis" for the exact same reason?

    November 26, 2007 04:18 pm at 4:18 pm |
  19. carvedstars

    I really respect him for telling the truth. Hopefully he'll win! For the people that say that it makes kids feel like it's okay, I disagree, and advise them to shut up. 🙂

    November 26, 2007 04:26 pm at 4:26 pm |
  20. Richard, West Palm Beach, FL

    Obama, never a President of the USA, why not, he is Muslim, cannot "HONESTLY" take the oath of office if he were elected, and the oath is sworn on the Holy Bible, NOT the Koran, and this is "ONE NATION UNDER GOD" not Allah! He should have never made it into the arena based on this alone!
    Posted By Rob Cuba, NY : November 26, 2007 3:42 pm
    This is another prime example that Bush should not have vetoed the bill for education. The ignorance here is appalling. First of all Barack Obama IS NOT A MUSLIM. If you have ONE PIECE OF EVIDENCE THAT HE HAS DONE ANYTHING IN HIS ENTIRE ADULT LIFE TO SHOW THAT HE IS A MUSLIM, THEN SHOW IT so the comment doesn't look so ignorant.

    Secondly, ANY research will show that the president DOES NOT HAVE to take his oath on a BIBLE. It is irrelevent to the oath of office. Obama says he is a Christian, Bush says he is a Christian. Do Christians lie? Do they do research?

    November 26, 2007 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  21. Barry, Miami, FL

    "No, it is you who sounds stupid. You are going to support someone who is running for Commander in Chief who abused substances. He can't deal with terrorism high on "chronic". Get a life."

    Posted By Jr., California
    He is not a current user. Read the quotes and the excerpts from his book. Your current Commander in Chief abused substances (cocaine, alcohol). Monica is right. You are stupid. Now you have a second opinion.

    November 26, 2007 04:48 pm at 4:48 pm |
  22. Mike, Haysville Kansas

    Obama Has stepped up and done the correct thing,
    Just let the fist candidate without flaws, cast the first stone!
    There are none I'll bet if the real truth be known!

    November 26, 2007 05:51 pm at 5:51 pm |
  23. Jude, Fresno, CA

    Rob in Cuba, NY. Barack Obama is not a Muslim. Let's get your facts straight first of all. You sound like a complete moron.

    Secondly, if he were Muslim, it would be entirely appropriate to take his oath of office on the Koran. Using the Bible is not exclusive, nor is it the law.

    Must the far-right be constantly reminded that America is NOT a theocracy? There is SUPPOSED to be a separation of church and state.

    In fact, the separation of church and state is whole premise for the "nation building" in Iraq that is so supported by the far-right, correct? Or is the goal to simply convert all Iraqis to Christianity? Can't have it both ways, Limbaugheads!

    Food for thought – from a white, Christian, veteran.

    November 26, 2007 05:57 pm at 5:57 pm |
  24. Mary, Mountain View, CA

    No, it is you who sounds stupid. You are going to support someone who is running for Commander in Chief who abused substances. He can't deal with terrorism high on "chronic". Get a life.
    Posted By Jr., California : November 26, 2007 2:47 pm

    Sorry, it's still you who sounds stupid. First of all, one-time pot smoking does not a druggie/pothead/addict make. And just because he smoked once does not mean he will do it again (in fact, he probably never did it again after graduating from college). Second of all, he said that it was a mistake. Get your idiotic brain around this.

    If we included presidential eligibility based on whether or not anyone had used drugs at all, we'd have a woefully small pool of candidates.

    November 26, 2007 06:03 pm at 6:03 pm |
  25. Jude, Fresno, CA

    "OBAMA IS A LOSER!" – Val Davydov,

    And what, exactly, have you done with your life, Val? I'm guessing that your list of accomplishments and record of service does not even come close to Barack Obama's. How you just summarily dismiss him as "a loser" is quite laughable. I'd give alot to see what your life consists of.

    I suppose being the produce manager at Publix and a devout Rush Limbuagh listener are more impressive accomplishments than Havard Law and public service...

    November 26, 2007 06:08 pm at 6:08 pm |
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