Presidents on Pot

shutterstock 773829484
shutterstock 773829484

Since it’s President’s Day, we thought we would describe where some our former Commander in Chief’s stood on pot. We decided to leave some names and supposed quotes off of the list that involves events we cannot verify such as the claim that smoking hemp inspired James Madison (smoking hemp gets you high?) to come up with the idea of creating a democratic nation or the popular Thomas Jefferson quote below:

“Some of my finest hours have been spent sitting on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.”


Ronald Regan

Presidential term-January 20, 1981 – January 20, 1989

Political party- Republican

The nation’s 40th president may be credited with ending the Cold War, but he clearly wanted no part in ending the War on Drugs. His wife, First Lady, Nancy Regan, started the “Just Say No” initiative. And Regan himself took things to another level. In this video clip, we can hear the Gipper clearly state his views on the subject. “Marijuana, pot, grass, whatever you want to call it, is probably the most dangerous drug in America.”

Barack Obama

Presidential term- January 20, 2009 – January 20, 2017

Political party- Democratic

When Barack Obama won the presidency in 2008, it seemed like the moment marijuana enthusiasts were waiting years for. The man who once said “I inhaled frequently…that was the point” was surely going to be more rational when it came to federal pot policy. But Barry surprised many when his Justice Department began conducting raids on medical marijuana dispensaries early in his first term. Although he seemed to ease off in his second term, he never did call for rescheduling like many had hoped for.

George Washington

Presidential term- April 30, 1789 – March 4, 1797

Political party- none

Our nation’s first president is famous for his truth-telling, wooden teeth, and of course bravely leading the American Patriots to victory against Great Britain. But in more recent years, the claim that George Washington grew marijuana has received considerable attention. While we really want this to be true, it kind of falls in the middle. Washington did not grow and smoke marijuana. However, he was an avid hemp grower and used it to make rope, canvas, and sewing stacks.

Richard Nixon

Presidential term- January 20, 1969 – August 9, 1974

Political Party- Republican

No one will be surprised to hear that the orchestrator of the War on Drugs was not a super huge fan of marijuana. But his devious plan to use pot as the backbone of his efforts to jail his political rivals is outright disturbing. Nixon’s domestic policy chief John Ehrlichman described this in an interview in the 90s that was not made public until 2016. “We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin. And then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities,” Ehrlichman described.

Thomas Jefferson

Presidential term- March 4, 1801 – March 4, 1809

Political party- Democratic-Republican

As we described earlier, the idea that Jefferson spoke openly about smoking hemp (again, we are really curious to find this psychedelic industrial hemp) and zoning out for hours at a time cannot be verified. But like his fellow founding father Washington, Jefferson also grew hemp. He even detailed his thoughts on it in a journal. “A hand can tend 3 acres of hemp a year. Tolerable ground yields 500 lb. to the acre. You may generally count on 100 lb. for every foot the hemp is over 4 ft. high,” Jefferson wrote. A bit more technical than trippy, but it’s still cool that Jefferson did so much research on the topic.

Bill Clinton

Presidential term– January 20, 1993 – January 20, 2001

Political party– Democratic

Bill Clinton made quite a few unbelievable statements in his time in the White House. But somehow, “I did not inhale” seemed less plausible than “I did not have sexual relations with that woman,” and there is a blue dress that included DNA evidence to the contrary. Clinton may have offered a silly description of his marijuana use, but at the time, he was the first president in the modern era to confirm smoking weed.

George W. Bush

Presidential term- January 20, 2001 – January 20-2009

Political party- Republican

GW Bush was known to have an addiction problem in his younger years. He rarely liked discussing it publically and reportedly dodged a question on marijuana because he did not want “some kid trying what I tried.” But a few years after leaving the White House Bush came pretty close to confirming his marijuana use while speaking with Jay Leno on late night television. “I didn’t behave that well when I was younger…like I might have smoked something for example.” He could be talking about cigarettes, but…no he wasn’t.

Donald Trump

Presidential Term- January 20, 2017 –

Political Party- Republican

It is difficult to nail down exactly where our current president stands on marijuana. President Trump claims to have never touched drugs and alcohol. But he did refer to the War on Drugs as a failure in the 90s and called for the legalization of all drugs. While campaigning for the presidency, he seemed to indicate that medical marijuana should be a state by state issue but called legal marijuana a “real problem” in Colorado. We do know one thing for sure, his Attorney General is clearly against marijuana.

John Kennedy

While we cannot be sure on this one, Michael O’ Brien’s 2006 book “John Kennedy: A Biography” claims that JFK used marijuana in the White House. “On the evening of July 16, 1962, according to [Washington Post executive] Jim Truitt, Kennedy and Mary Meyer smoked marijuana together. … The president smoked three of the six joints Mary brought to him. At first he felt no effects. Then he closed his eyes and refused a fourth joint. ‘Suppose the Russians did something now,’ he said.” We cannot verify the claims of this book, but it makes sense considering Kennedy’s documented issues with chronic pain.