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. jason, chicago

    HE ADMITS===HE know what responsibility and truth is This is the fresh air Washington DC needs not more lies and Spin from the Clinton.

    Get Clinton admit to her faults or miss deed during her life time

    She have you believe she as holy as the POPE and live sin free.
    The sad truth the HARD LEFT LIBRAL NUT CASES EAT IT UP LIKE CANDY

    Was it the CLINTON who destroyed the Democrat party during the 1990s
    Was it the CLINTON who was impeached by the house of congress with over half of the Democrat defecting and voted yes to impeachment.(DOES THAT MAKE IT RIGHT? TO DISTRACT AN ENTIRE NATION OVER PERJURY CHARGES FOR ORAL SEX?!?!?

    Was it the CLINTON who dived the Democrats party against it self. And to this date is still trying to recover from the damage.(NOOOO, THE DEMS WERE COWARDS WHO DIDN'T SAY ENOUGH IS ENOUGH, LET'S GET BACK TO RUNNING THE COUNTRY! AND IT'S THE SAME DEMS WHO AREN"T TAKING A STAND TO SAVE THE COUNTRY FROM THE LYING CHEATING MONEY GRUBBING REPUBLICANS! Start a war with taxpayers money, bush's cronies make money from that taxpayer funded war. SIMPLE AS THAT!)

    AND the CLINTON suppose to bring UNITY to the people?? They cant keep their own party united LOL. (BECAUSE DEMS ARE INCLUSIVE OF FREE THINKERS NOT SHEEP)

    JOE BIDDEN AND OBAMA 2009
    (OH PLEASE! IF OBAMA IS SO SANCTIMONIOUS TO CALL CLINTON ON HER VOTE ON THE IRAN RESOLUTION, HE DIDN"T EVEN BOTHER SHOWING UP!! MORE THAN THAT, HE HAS AN IDENTICAL VOTING RECORD AS HILLARY CLINTON ASIDE FROM 4 MINOR VOTES, LOOK IT UP!

    Posted By alan St Louis MO : November 25, 2007 5:34 am

    November 25, 2007 02:43 pm at 2:43 pm |
  2. Mac

    What difference does his adolescent mistakes make? It is the past. There are bigger issues to address in our country.

    November 25, 2007 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  3. DG, Washington DC

    Not quite getting why he's not more careful about letting this make news on a slow news day? I mean he could've just told the high school kids it's a bad idea that could mess up your life and leave it at that. Doesn't the federal government reject student loan applications for kids who've been arrested for marijuana.

    I personally think it's no big deal but it's not about that, it's about what kind of message you send as a candidate for president.. I know only one guy at my work who jokes around about smoking weed but he's really young & I'm trying to give him the hint that sure, I'm cool with that but talking about it is unwise, professionally.

    November 25, 2007 02:50 pm at 2:50 pm |
  4. Marijuana Reform, Portland, OR

    As a person involved in a legal Medical Marijuana program I can attest to it being a good alternative to several of the priscription drugs being advertised now on TV and dumped on the American citizen now days to suck even more of your money out of your wallet. Growing it yourself as mentioned is THE best way to keep profitiers and costs as in government taxes down for the patient.

    November 25, 2007 02:59 pm at 2:59 pm |
  5. David Ikenze Holman IV, West Lafayette, Indiana

    The fact that Obama is willing to speak openly and admit his mistakes makes me realize he is as human as me. I don't think there is anything wrong with him going into details about whether or not he inhaled or not. For Romney to mention that Obama should not have gone into further details about his past indiscretions makes me think that Romney is more interested in maintaining his face, facade and public image than he is about being authentically honest with the American people. I hope Romney does not win the Republican nomination.

    November 25, 2007 03:00 pm at 3:00 pm |
  6. Ben, San Jose CA.

    What is funny is that most people will use this as critisism of his political trust.
    What is not funny is that there is no mention that our current president was an admitted cokehead and pothead at one time as well.
    Former president Clinton is crazy to think that the people of our county believe that he did not inhale. Then again maybe we are crazy to think that Senator Clinton will not release her records until AFTER she is president. America can be so dense sometimes, no wonder we are made a mockery in other countries. Wake up people, at least he isn't calling the Iranians terrorists and threatening them with bombardment upon presidency. Sounds awful familiar to me. A lot like a certain German promising hope to a failed German economy somewhere around the mid to late 1930s. As Einstein once wrote: "you can never have peace while preparing for war". America, I love you but wake up, we finally have someone that is striving for openess and change.

    November 25, 2007 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  7. Vivek Saxena, Raleigh, NC

    I love Obama! He keeps it real. He reminds me of the movie, "Down to Earth". I hate dishonesty and ignorance. Real wisdom comes from keeping it real!

    November 25, 2007 03:06 pm at 3:06 pm |
  8. Bea Sandoval, Odessa Texas

    For once, I can respect a candidate just for the honesty he has shown to date. I disagree with Mitt Romney, who I interpet as saying that Obama's honesty is a bad example in showing weaknesses and/or failings. To me, it is important that candidates for presidency be honest in ALL questions that come up, no matter what the issue. If all of us were honest, it would be found that most of us experienced with one thing or another, especially in high school and/or college. Obama definitely has my vote.

    November 25, 2007 03:08 pm at 3:08 pm |
  9. Julie

    Thank Heavens he is human! and not just another government robot, molded and brainwashed from infancy. I bet he actually bleeds when he is cut, unlike the others where wires just fall out. ugh! Of course we ALL mess up. If people think he is setting a 'bad example' for kids, then what in the world are they teaching their kids? That adults can't make mistakes when they were kids? That adults can't make mistakes as adults? Those poor kids are in for a rude awakening then...

    I really see nothing wrong with medical pot at all. It really does help those sick and in pain and those going through cancer treatments. I think its a HUGE waste of our tax dollars and time to put any pot smokers in prison when we have real criminals out there hurting us. They should get fined or do community work, but prison? The US has MORE people in their prisons then any other country and most are for minor crimes like this...while child sexual predators run free! This country is a MESS! The government needs a 'Common Sense Committee", one that tells the leaders to quit being stupid. ugh.

    November 25, 2007 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  10. PW Va

    Some of you Republican posters are PATHETIC!!! By Senator Obama's own admission to earlier use of an illegal drug...you're either upset because he used at all or that he's HONESTLY confessed to having done so...so those two theories pretty much cancel each other out.

    So, what's the only other factor you figure you can SLAM him on??? Lack of expereience??? We've undergone almost eight EXCRUCIATING years OF INEXPEREIENCE!!! And this from a guy with a "C" average at best!!! And look at us now...the laughingstock of half of the world and indebted on many levels to the oher half!!! And I won't even begin to get started on the HONESTY issue of the present administration!!! Can't you people even see the irony of all of this????

    November 25, 2007 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  11. N Cassidy, San Francisco, CA

    Come on, everyone knows that the drug laws are the most illogical laws in the country. The can't be and aren't well enforced, they cost untold billions of dollars and the show that no matter how hard you try, you can't legislate morality. Remember what country on Earth is the biggest consumer of Cocaine, Heroin, Marijuana? Drugs are sold in this country on the black market for one simple reason, people want to buy them. Supply follows demand, only eliminating the demand for drugs will end the drug war, remember what happened during Prohibition? There was demand for alcohol so the supply met the demand. Obama wouldn't make a good President, he is too honest and logical. All you people want are liars and thieves who will continue to spend HALF of your tax money on the Military, tax the worker feed the rich, that's what this government does because that is what you want it to do.

    November 25, 2007 03:17 pm at 3:17 pm |
  12. R Himes, CT

    I am not a Obama fan to be elected president in 2008 but his admission that he experimented with marijuana is praiseworthy. A brief experimentation with marijuana is what most normal Americans did when he was a youth. Not to have smoked and inhaled at least one joint in his youth would either mean he was being dishonest about his youth or that he was too much of a "straight arrow" to be a good leader of thee American people.

    November 25, 2007 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  13. Rich in Jacksonville, Florida

    Heh. Mitt Romney encourages presidential candidates to lie to kids, for 'their own good' apparently.

    November 25, 2007 03:23 pm at 3:23 pm |
  14. Charlotte, NC

    Honesty is so vital in this upcoming election. I could live with Obama as President.

    November 25, 2007 03:30 pm at 3:30 pm |
  15. Jim H, Glendale, CA

    I don't think this is going to hurt him at all. We've seen too many of these admissions for something like this to knock him out of the race. Now, if he said he was dancing naked on tables and doing coke and getting drunk driving arrests - oh, that's Bush. Sorry. He gets a free pass.

    Seriously, though, the first candidate who votes to legalize marijuana, and give users of heavier drugs treatment and sentence only the drug kingpins and dealers who sell heroin and cocaine and meth to life in jail - in other words, to repeal the War on Drugs idiocy - then he has my vote.

    November 25, 2007 03:35 pm at 3:35 pm |
  16. Val Davydov, Agawam, MA

    90% of people on this thread are desperate to justify their smoking marijuana so they approve of Obama's "honest" confession. If presidential canditate smoked pot and used cocaine, why can't I? Isn't it a pathetic state of American society?

    November 25, 2007 03:36 pm at 3:36 pm |
  17. Ty, Blacksburg VA

    Shouldnt we be completely honest with our children because we expect them to be honest with us and in the rest of their lives?
    Couldnt you say, "(This is what happened to me in the past), but i dont want you thinking it's ok for you to do it because they shouldnt make the same mistake"?
    It would be hard but it would be better then telling them youve been lying to them for the last some# years. What example does that set?
    I wouldnt tell a child of five that you smoke pot tho – that would just be funny.

    November 25, 2007 03:37 pm at 3:37 pm |
  18. Rodney Dallas, TX

    Is this the example you want to teach your kids? That you can smoke pot, goof off throughout high school, and then run for president? Are you kidding me. I seriously hope all you people with children will realize that Obama is not the answer to our troubles in America. If anything, he's gonna screw it up further.

    November 25, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  19. Nicole Z, Chicago, IL

    All excellent points, Matt,and a very cogent argument. I wish all Americans had decent IQ's and could understand what you're getting at. Unfortunately, most people can't step back and see the forest for the trees. That's why catchphrases and slogans usually win the day, and why we end with the president who confuses the masses the least (e.g., GWB).

    Matt from Coral Cables said:
    The problem with Obama here is that he thinks he was wrong to use marijuana, and that he would only support medical marijuana if it was the "best" choice. I wonder what he would say that if marijuana had been legal at the time when he used it? He is allowing others to be his arbiter of morality, he is basing morality on legality, and he is pandering to the status quo here. Using marijuana is not any more morally "wrong" than drinking alcohol, and he should call out the people who are questioning him with their apparent moral superiority.

    Posted By Matt, Coral Gables, FL : November 25, 2007 8:08 am

    November 25, 2007 03:39 pm at 3:39 pm |
  20. James, Seattle,

    I find Mitt Romney's comments about Barack Obama's marijuana in high school both troubling and flawed. It appears Mr. Romney doesn't believe it is good to go into the details of our weaknesses and failings when we were teenagers because it opens kid's thinking that it's ok for them. So instead we are supposed to give the perception of perfection and pretend the challenges of life don't exist?! How does that help teenagers as they face challenges during their teenage years? Mr. Romney also presumes that teenagers will hear the weakness but not the lesson learned. That is insulting to both adults and teenagers and goes back to that fear-based approach that bad things won't exist if we just don't talk about it. I'm not sure how we expect someone with this philosophy to act as president...oh wait, let's just look back on the past two terms. Get your head out of the sand, Mr. Romney!

    November 25, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  21. Yahshuatwo, Georgetown, SC

    To Hell with all the candidates.. Americans are soo stupid and dumb. They rant and rave over political parties when none of them are in favor of the working class. Stupid arrogant Americans. Americans are divided over everything, and never can be united over anything. You'll get what you deserve!!

    November 25, 2007 03:40 pm at 3:40 pm |
  22. Mary, Fort Worth, Texas

    As a teenage high school student, I think Obama just needs to be quiet about his drug experimentation or get out of the presidential race. How can I respect a president who can "speak candidly" about, knowing that the message he send will e recieved by millions of younger teens? 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.

    November 25, 2007 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  23. Tony, Wilton, ME

    Obama is up in the polls and suddenly all the Republican guns begin tracking him instead of Hillary.

    It would be amazing if, instead of attacking the perceived opposition, Republican candidates actually began talking about the Republican position on real issues. Forget God, guns and gays. Tell me how you would either bring an end to Bush's War or win it in our lifetime. Tell me how you would keep the economy from sliding into the abyss and I don't mean by giving more tax cuts to the principle stockholders of the Fortune 500. Tell me how you would restore our moral position in the community of nations after Bush (not Clinton) absolutely trashed it.

    Of course they won't. The Atwater/Rove says attack attack attack.

    November 25, 2007 03:48 pm at 3:48 pm |
  24. Ty, Blacksburg VA

    Wheres my comment at – it wasnt derisive or anything. Kinda sucks.

    November 25, 2007 03:50 pm at 3:50 pm |
  25. Patrick, Chicago, IL

    "This guy is a buffoon. So what's the moral of the story? Instead of giving his plans for America, he is fixated on whether he inhaled or not. We have heard it before, please move on, address the issue that you couldn't articulate time and time again, in the debates."
    Jeremy

    Umm perhaps you need to read more carefully, he was asked this question and he responded to it honestly. That is a leader not a buffoon. You complane about him not addressing the issues? Where is Hillary's social security plan? or any detailed plan for that matter...

    November 25, 2007 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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