Bill Clinton Didn’t Inhale — Looking Back on Politicians That Smoke Weed

Bill Clinton Didn’t Inhale — Looking Back on Politicians That Smoke Weed

We all know that some politicians smoke weed. In today’s news cycle and political climate, a confession to using cannabis is hardly significant. However, a few decades ago this was far from the case. The America of Bill Clinton was far more conservative than many of us would care to remember. We must keep this in mind as we attempt to assess and evaluate the former president’s net impact on drug laws and the cannabis rights movement. However, one simple truth must be acknowledged. Bill Clinton didn’t inhale… But he did change the landscape of how drug use among politicians is regarded.

While the war on drugs was far from over, this moment marked the beginning of a departure from the days of just say no. So what precipitated this landmark in cannabis history?

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The Context Behind the Famous Comment

This iconic moment came when old Bill was in fact young Bill. The presidential hopeful was Governor of Arkansas as well as the Democrat’s charismatic, political animal, and their last hope to defeat George Bush Senior.

On the campaign trail, the then-aspiring presidential candidate was making the rounds of the media circus. During one interview on a morning talk show, Bill Clinton was asked a pointed question regarding whether or not he had ever broken the law. He stated that as a young Oxford scholar, he had experimented with cannabis but he didn’t like it… And Bill Clinton didn’t inhale.

The idea that there were politicians that smoke weed, was a foreign one to the American public at the time. In fact, the 90’s were a far more conservative time than many of us care to remember. Many thought this confession would sink Clinton’s chances at the presidency Were they ever wrong?

Bill Clinton went on to become a 2 term president and a trailblazer of sorts. However, underneath these comments lies a dark, undiscussed reality. Bill Clinton didn’t inhale… But he did persecute those who did with an iron fist.

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Bill Clinton and The War on Drugs

Homer Simpson spitting out beer
An artist’s depiction of how Bill Clinton tried beer… Needless to say, he didn’t like it…

I tried drinking once and I didn’t like it. I sloshed it around in my mouth for a bit and spit it out. Am I now an expert on cannabis? Does this qualify me to scorn you on the dangers of marijuana?If old Bill was going confess to smoking weed, he could have endeared himself to a lot more people with a genuine confession. Instead, he gave the American public a bizarre little half-truth that will live on in infamy as long as people smoke weed. By the way, has anyone ever sounded more square while confessing to smoking weed?If you genuinely think President Bill Clinton didn’t inhale, keep in mind this is the man who claimed that his white house fun with Monica Lewinsky didn’t qualify as sexual relations. The late great Christopher Hitchen also testified to the fact that while in Oxford, Clinton had an insatiable hunger for edible marijuana.

Bill Clinton Didn’t Inhale… But He Persecuted Those Who Did

Herein lies a second problem. These infamous statements by the former president came at a time when the war on drugs was alive and well. Presidents such as Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and George Bush were at liberty to enjoy their youth, take illegal risks and expand their consciousness. This is not a liberty many underprivileged youths and African Americans get to take.The mass incarcerations of non-violent drug offenders continues to be a dire issue in the United States. Unless these presidents are of the opinion that their experimentation should warrant them a retroactive jail sentence then they must be regarded as hypocrites.Thus, the moment where we found out that Bill Clinton didn’t inhale must be regarded paradoxically as both an injustice and a great victory. The fact that politicians that smoke weed can be more open about their recreational activities creates a healthier, more honest society. However, Bill Clinton himself should not be regarded as some sort of cannabis rights advocate.His presidential legacy with drug rights must be counterbalanced with the harm he did as well. Let’s not forget that Bill Clinton was the same president whose administration that bullied and threatened doctors in California who legally prescribed medicinal marijuana.

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Marijuana Criminalization Today

Bill Clinton and Obama
Nostalgia for the 90’s can distract us from the fact that Bill Clinton was a big proponent of the war on drugs (image via Know Your Meme)

Politicians that smoke weed often emerge from the ordeal consequence free. This is not the case for many of the nonviolent citizens that still feel the repercussions of the drug war. Fortunately many states with legal cannabis are working hard to rectify the harm done by expunging criminal records.However, this is limited to the states where marijuana prohibition has ended. Although opinions are changing, this is gradual, and the fact that marijuana is federally illegal has some genuine, and severe consequences.If nothing else, the fact that Bill Clinton didn’t inhale is a reminder of how far America has come on cannabis rights.

By: Stefan Hosko
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