Our current president has openly acknowledged that he used marijuana as a teen. Hell, he’s even been quoted as saying he thinks cannabis is less dangerous than alcohol – the first president to say so.
But he’s hardly the first U.S. executive to use the marijuana plant in his personal life. Everybody knows Bill Clinton didn’t inhale, but did you know there are several presidents who toked? Allegedly, at least.
Even more of them dealt with marijuana issues during their time in office. Some have played a hard line, but the ties between our leaders and our weed has been much stronger than generally believed.
Here are the presidents who have tackled the issue or smoked the plant. And here’s hoping our next president lights up in the Oval Office!
No. 44: Barack Obama
Obama famously admitted to smoking lots of pot while a youth. He hung out with a “choom gang” in Hawaii; as he himself said, “When I was a kid, I inhaled, frequently. That was the point.”
The 44th hasn’t been quite so generous in his political approach to the drug, running an administration with more small-time marijuana busts to its name than any other. His comments comparing pot and booze made waves, but he has yet to push for major reform at the federal level.
No. 43: George W. Bush
Bush Jr. was a party boy in his youth, and he’s known to he have dabbled in a number of things, including cocaine and lots of alcohol. But he never copped to the weed.
“I wouldn’t answer the marijuana questions,” he later told a biographer. “You know why? Because I don’t want some little kid doing what I tried.”
No. 42: Bill Clinton
Our 42nd president notoriously claimed he smoked pot in college but “didn’t inhale.” The coded message was clear: “Of course I smoked weed, I’m just not going to admit it in public.”
No. 41: George H.W. Bush
Bush Sr. never toked, as far as anyone knows, but he certainly pushed through some of the most stringent anti-marijuana laws on the books. He created the office of the drug czar and shuttered the only federal medical marijuana program after AIDS patients started applying in the late 1980s.
No. 39: Jimmy Carter
Carter says he never lit up, but he didn’t exactly run the most anti-marijuana administration in memory. His son Chip toked on the roof of the White House with Willie Nelson.
Carter was the first president to come out in favor of decriminalization, saying, “I support legislation amending federal law to eliminate all federal criminal penalties for the possession of up to one ounce of marijuana.”
No. 35: John F. Kennedy
The historical evidence is sketchy at best, but some sources claim JFK used weed to treat his severe back pain. We do know he used a heavy cocktail of pharmaceuticals for his colitis, prostatitis, and Addison’s disease.
No. 14: Franklin Pierce
Pierce, one of three presidents who purportedly smoked up with the troops, allegedly said marijuana was “about the only good thing” to come out of the Mexican-American War of the 1840s.
No. 12: Zachary Taylor
Like Pierce, Taylor supposedly liked to partake with his troops on the field. Taylor served as president for just two years following the Mexican-American War.
No. 7: Andrew Jackson
Jackson reportedly smoked tobacco cigars laced with cannabis during the War of 1812. Like Taylor and Pierce, he liked to toke with his troops.
No. 5: James Monroe
Our fifth president, James Monroe, started smoking hash while serving as ambassador to France. He supposedly kept up the habit for the rest of his life.
No. 3: Thomas Jefferson
Jefferson grew fields of hemp at his Monticello estate in Virginia. There’s no evidence he smoked the stuff, but he smuggled Chinese cannabis seeds into the United States, and hemp was a major part of his crop.
No. 1: George Washington
Like Jefferson, Washington grew hemp for industrial use at his Mount Vernon plantation. No one has been able to prove that he ever inhaled weed, but nobody has been able to prove that he didn’t, either.