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Presidents Who Smoked Cannabis

Sure, cannabis is still federally illegal, but in the forever-ironic words of ol’ “Tricky Dick” Nixon, “When the President does it, that means it is not illegal.” Let’s get into some Commanders-in-Kiefs who partook in a little bit of reefer madness. 

Barack Obama 

Likely the most well-known instances of a President smoking cannabis comes from #44, Barack Obama. In his memoir Dreams from My Father, not-yet President Obama disclosed that he smoked cannabis as a youth in Hawaii. When asked about it while running for President in 2008, he replied, “When I was a kid, I inhaled frequently. That was the point.” Seems odd to have to say you actually inhaled, but as you’ll see later, not every Commander-in-Chief was ready to admit that. President Obama’s stance on cannabis has been a bit wishy-washy over the years, but the first state legalizations came under his presidency, and he has often referenced the unfair nature of cannabis crimes in this country. 

Bill Clinton  

Well, let’s just get right to it. When asked if he had ever used drugs or broken federal law, President Clinton denied any wrongdoing (not the first or the last time that would happen). But when pressed on the topic on ABC News, President Clinton admitted that, while a student in England, he tried a joint “one or two times,” but he didn’t like it and never tried it again. There’s no place for conjecture here, but… come on. 

Jimmy Carter… Sorta

So this one is “kind of” cheating. President Carter never admitted to smoking cannabis, although he did endorse its decriminalization during a time when that was not a favorable position. However, while #39 may not have smoked, he confirmed that his son “Chip” Carter did smoke weed with Willie Nelson in the White House. I mean, who else but Willie can get away with smoking pot in the White House – with the President’s son nonetheless! Legendary. 

Franklin Pierce, Zachary Taylor, and Andrew Jackson

These three military-men-turned-Presidents weren’t ripping bongs and taking selfies, so there’s not too much evidence out there showing their cannabis use. However, there are written accounts of each of them enjoying hemp while they were out at war. Pierce wrote that it was, “about the only good thing” referencing the Mexican-American War. 

The Founding Fathers 

The Founding Fathers were total hemp-heads. Now, a distinction must be made between hemp and that high-grade reefer we’re smoking today. Monroe, Madison, Jefferson, and Washington all grew hemp because of the material value in its fibers. Hemp’s THC values are low enough to the point where you likely won’t feel the psychoactive effects if you smoke it. So while reports that the Founding Fathers were taking tokes on their front porches are misleading, they certainly did understand the value of the plant. Who knows, maybe if there were as many dispensaries back then as there are now, the Founding Fathers would have been hotboxing in their horse-drawn buggies. 


Many lists of weed-smoking Presidents are misleading, but even at a small sample size, if the Leader of the Free World is able to smoke cannabis and go on to run the country, there shouldn’t be an issue with you smoking weed too. Happy Presidents’ Day. Go light one up like the President would.

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