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New Book Details Barack Obama’s Marijuana-smoking ‘Interceptions’

As a young man growing up in Hawaii, President Obama frequently smoked marijuana with a group of friends dubbed the “Choom Gang,” according to a new book about Mr. Obama’s life.

The book by David Maraniss of The Washington Post, is not due out until next month. But large portions of it were available briefly Friday on Google Books, before being taken down. The section about Mr. Obama’s pot smoking was first reported by Buzzfeed.

Mr. Obama long ago acknowledged using marijuana, saying in his own book, “Dreams From My Father,” that regular use had threatened to get in the way of his ambition in life.

“Junkie. Pothead. That’s where I’d been headed; the final fatal role of the would-be black man,” Mr. Obama wrote. “I had discovered that it didn’t make any difference whether you smoked reefer in a white classmate’s sparkling new van, or in the dorm room of some brother you’d met down at the gym, or on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids. … You just might be bored or alone. Everybody was welcome into the club of disaffection.”

Mr. Maraniss’s book goes further in describing Mr. Obama’s pot-smoking days. The book says that “choom” is a verb meaning “to smoke marijuana” and that Mr. Obama was an active member of the group of boys, many of whom also played basketball.

“As a member of the Choom Gang, Barry Obama was known for starting a few pot-smoking trends. The first was called ‘T.A.,’ short for ‘total absorption,’” Mr. Maraniss wrote. “To place this in the physical and political context of another young man who would grow up to be president, T.A. was the antithesis of Bill Clinton’s claim that as a Rhodes scholar at Oxford he smoked dope but never inhaled.”

Mr. Maraniss writes that Mr. Obama was part of the “Hack Club,” a groups of teenage boys who played basketball aggressively. Many of those same boys also belonged to the “choom gang,” Mr. Maraniss says.

“When they were chooming in the car, all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste,” Mr. Maraniss says. “When the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.”

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