It is no secret that President Barack Obama toked in his youth, but a new biography, Barack Obama: The Story by David Maraniss, evidently reveals some fragrant, sticky details about teenage Barry and his "Choom Gang." ("Choom" is supposed to be Hawaiian slang for ganja, but the Urban Dictionary indicates otherwise.) One excerpt from the book is provided by Buzzfeed:
When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang for marijuana, meaning "numbing tobacco") instead of absorbing it fully into your lungs, you were assessed a penalty and your turn was skipped the next time the joint came around. "Wasting good bud smoke was not tolerated," explained one member of the Choom Gang.
Now, pakalolo is the Hawaiian term that we know for the herb. While we are not at all scandalized that Barry was an enthusiastic toker, it is kind of embarrassing that he encouraged these silly "smoking games"—an ill-conceived concept obviously adopted from the "drinking games" that represent the sophomoric worst of alcohol culture. Further such details are provided by this summation from the LA Times' Politics Now blog:
Maraniss describes how Obama and a group of high school buddies from the exclusive Punahou School in Honolulu would hang out together to sample—extensively—the island's copious varieties of weed...
Unlike Bill Clinton, who famously claimed that he had smoked, but never inhaled, Obama’s friends credited him with setting a rule of "total absorption": anyone who exhaled prematurely lost his next turn at the joint. And he was known, Maraniss reports, for "Interceptions": "When a joint was making the rounds, he often elbowed his way in, out of turn, shouted 'Intercepted!' and took an extra hit."
Remember, it was Obama who, when he was asked in 2006 if he had inhaled, said, "That was the point."
Indeed it is, but let's remember that inhaling is just a means to an end—getting high and enjoying the experience. Pressure to hold the smoke longer than feels comfortable sounds to us like a recipe for buzzkill. In any case, the notion that you need to hold the hit to get high is dubious at best; the THC is absorbed pretty quickly when it hits your lungs. And while we don't doubt Barry was handsome and charming enough to pull off his "interceptions" gracefully, hogging the joint by any other name is still hogging the joint...
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