Almost a decade after her husband’s memoir Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance, Michelle Obama wants to tell her own story. Her autobiography Becoming, set to release tomorrow, follows the former first lady’s coming of age tale. In it, she candidly explores her youth. She even includes some aspects many people of her stature would leave out… namely, that she smoked pot.
On a recent interview with 20/20 for the book, she faces questions about her admission. When host Robin Roberts wonders why Obama would write so openly about her pot use as a kid, she replies very simply.
“That’s what I did,” she tells her interviewer. Then continuing on, she states, “That’s part of the becoming story. Everybody had something that they had to work through, something that they were figuring out.”
For Obama, her trials, tribulations, and triumphs as a young person contributed to where she has gotten today. Her “becoming story” relies on these experiences. Her successes rely on these experiences. So naturally, Michelle Obama wonders, “Why would I hide that from the next generation?”
Like Michelle, Barak has remained open about his marijuana use. When running for president in 2008, the former president wittingly stated, “When I was a kid, I inhaled. That was the point.” Riffing off of former President Clinton’s flimsy denial of former weed use, Barak opened up to the American people. In Becoming, Michelle seems to aim for similar frankness and humility. The message from both Obamas sounds like one of openness about their (weedy) pasts, no matter the political consequences. And in the current climate surrounding cannabis where the stigma of using weed still often remains, her openness comes off as refreshing to a country awaiting full legalization.
In fact, pair that with the rumors from the former president’s biographer that an off-the-clock Barak enjoys a weed-infused gummy or a puff from time to time, and the Obamas seem down with the dank stuff. Back before the Trump presidency, President Obama’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) actually worked towards nationwide marijuana decriminalization. However, due to a myriad of political reasons, these goals were thwarted. And though finally the American people had a president who knows how to roll a J, the Obama administration failed to give Americans legal or decriminalized weed.
As political figures, the Obamas’ opinion on weed makes an impression. As parents, it may have too. Former first daughter Malia Obama has been seen up to her own youthful antics while away at school at Harvard. Now living in a state with legal recreational weed, the undergrad can lawfully enjoy cannabis with her friends. But for Malia, who has been seen blowing smoke rings with her boyfriend or rumored to have been fired for use by the US Embassy, her dabbling in weed receives national attention. Now living out her own becoming story, the young woman can experiment and inhale all she wants. But only with a ravenous media following her and documenting it to undermine her parents’ work.
And it is good work what the Obamas have done in de-stigmatizing marijuana. The former administration may have failed at a nationwide policy on weed. But they have opened the discussion up about people in power and political figures using cannabis. And while these admissions in memoirs and autobiographies come as tales of formative youth, they may serve to make the American people more comfortable with weed use overall. Eventually, these shifts in attitude may serve the greater good sooner than later, enabling all Americans the right to cannabis.
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