Presidents Who Smoked Cannabis

Written by Cara Wietstock

Happy President’s Day! To celebrate we’re taking a quick break from science on the blog and we’ve prepared a list of the presidents who have puffed and passed at least one time. The founding fathers of North America and the colonies grew hemp for fibers because they understood the value of such a fast flowering sharecrop. But there is record that a few of these men even understood the value of THC and might have actually lit up.

  1. Bill Clinton

Among his many famous quotes, Bill Clinton claimed that he tried marijuana but “didn’t inhale” while living in England during his road scholar years. Back in 1992 when he was asked the question about smoking herb the stigma ‘Reefer Madness’ stigma of cannabis was alive and well. The full quote reads “When I was in England, I experimented with marijuana a time or two, and didn’t like it,” Clinton said. “I didn’t inhale, and I didn’t try it again.” In a later interview with Fusion TV’s Jorge Ramos Clinton stands by his answer, saying that he was honest and thought it was funny.

  1. John F. Kennedy

There is an image that has made the rounds once or twice around the internet claiming John F. Kennedy smoked weed in the White House during his presidency to soothe his back pain and Addison’s Disease. An independent study of Kennedy’s medical records years after his death showed that he also had unbearable digestive issues and took up to eight pills daily (more in times of stress) just to stay alive. Though he battled all of these medical issues Kennedy’s alleged marijuana use had nothing to do with his medical problems and was actually part of a tryst with a mistress. Though claims that Kennedy did and did not smoke cannabis are plentiful, this is still an unproven fact among historians and internet trolls alike.

  1. Thomas Jefferson

Aside from his love of politics Jefferson was also very well known for interior decorating and was fancied as quite the dandy. Jefferson grew fields of hemp on his land, like most proprietors in that time, to be used for ships sails and other fibers. There is a now famous quote that has been spread around, “Some of my finest hours have been spent on my back veranda, smoking hemp and observing as far as my eye can see.” which is said to come from a document written by Thomas Jefferson. As much as we’d like to blindly believe this four editions of the ‘Thomas Jefferson Papers’ have been scoured to no avail.

  1. Barack Obama

Barack Obama wasn’t only the first African-American man to serve alongside the sea of white male presidents, he was also the first President of the United States to admit that he inhaled and enjoyed cannabis in the past. As a response to Clinton’s famous line of questioning in 1992 Obama told a slew of reporters, “When I was a kid, I inhaled. That was the point,”. In his book “Dreams from my Father” (1995) Obama talks about lightly using cocaine as well, but makes it clear that he has never tried to make light of drug abuse but instead, attempted to speak on the subjective struggles faced by a young boy in this country.  

  1. George Washington

This man was the very first president and a beloved general that also managed a private hemp farm. In his journals, there are many references to hemp, which he used to make fishing nets as well as clothes. Though he eventually he did turn his crop to wheat Washington seems to have experimented with the plant more than the other presidents on this list. Some of the references to hemp that Washington made imply that he possibly had a separate crop for the flowering hemp plant, what we refer to as medical and recreational marijuana. One quote also gives reason to believe that Washington might have used the river to make the earliest extraction from cannabis. It seems that George Washington might have been a pioneer in US cannabis as well as the country as we know it.


Do you know any other presidents who inhaled? What about any other uses for the hemp plant? Let us know in the comments!

About the author

Cara Wietstock

Cara began working in the retail cannabis industry of San Francisco, CA in 2011 and continued in that sector for years. In 2015 she dedicated herself to writing full-time. Her passion for the written word and deep respect for the healing properties of the plant have brought her to Terpenes and Testing magazine. She now helps keep us on the cutting edge of scientific cannabis discovery as the Editor-in-Chief of the print publication.

Leave a Comment