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By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

5/29/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Racy new book depicts president's high school hi-jinx

As a teenager, President Barack Obama never did anything half-heartedly, especially when it came to smoking marijuana. The boy who would be president was a notorious pot smoker in his youth, according to the racy new book, "Barack Obama: The Story" by David Maraniss. Due to be released next month, large portions of the book are already online.

According to the racy new book, 'Barack Obama: The Story' by David Maraniss, the president was a notorious pot smoker as a teenager.

According to the racy new book, "Barack Obama: The Story" by David Maraniss, the president was a notorious pot smoker as a teenager.

Article Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

5/29/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Politics & Policy

Keywords: Barack Obama, marijuana teenage years, high school, new biography


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to Maraniss, Obama embraced "total absorption" while he smoked marijuana in the car, "the windows had to be rolled up." The president would call out "Intercepted!" and grabbed the joint out of hand when it was passed among his high school friends.

Starting on page 293, the book lays out the dope - literally, on the high school-age Obama's group of basketball and fun-loving buds, who dubbed themselves the "Choom Gang," from a verb meaning "to smoke marijuana."

"As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called 'TA,' short for 'total absorption.' To place this in the physical and political context of another young man who would grow up to be president, TA was the antithesis of Bill Clinton's claim that as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled," Maraniss writes.

"When you were with Barry and his pals, if you exhaled precious pakalolo (Hawaiian slang from 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, Tom Topolinski, the Chinese-looking kid with a Polish name who answered to Topo."

The young Obama and his pals enjoyed a ritual called "roof hits." When they smoked in the car, they rolled up the windows, and "when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling," Maraniss writes.

Obama "also had a knack 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. No one seemed to mind."

"They parked single file on the grassy edge, turned up their stereos playing Aerosmith, Blue ÷yster Cult, and Stevie Wonder, lit up some 'sweet-sticky Hawaiian buds,' and washed it down with 'green bottled beer' (the Choom Gang preferred Heineken, Beck's, and St. Pauli Girl)," according to Maraniss.

"No shouting, no violence, no fights; they even cleaned up their beer bottles. This was their haven, in the darkness high above the city and the pressures of Punahou," he writes.

According to the book, Obama's drug dealer as described as a "freakin' scary" guy named Ray who met a grisly end. "Many years later they learned that he had been killed with a ball-peen hammer by a scorned gay lover." In memoriam, Obama said on his yearbook page, "Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times."

Maraniss does point out that Obama now looks upon those days with a newfound maturity. "Later in life, looking back on those days, Obama made it sound as though he were hanging out with a group of misbegotten ne'er-do-wells, what he called the 'club of disaffection.' In fact, most members of the Choom Gang were decent students and athletes who went on to successful and productive lives as lawyers, writers, and businessmen," the author says.

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