The Choom Gang - by James Munroe, as part of our series, Through The Eyes Of A Stoner
Barry was an average C grade student during his secondary years of schooling. Barry wasn't a bad kid. He didn't get into trouble or start fights. He did his homework, liked girls and hung out with his friends. Barry was also a member of the Choom Gang.
The Choom gang was a self confessed conglomerate of youths that liked to smoke dope and play basketball. They hung out in their VW van, the Choom Mobile, smoking pot. If you saw them today you'd probably think they had just walked off the set of The Pineapple Express.
They were the stoner stereotype.
Barry and the Choom gang made the Choom Mobile the gang's headquarters. It was in this very van that Barry, perhaps the most rambunctious of the bunch, come up with pot pioneering ideas like Total Absorption. If Total Absorption was not observed and any member of the gang was found not holding the smoke in for an acceptable amount of time, they would be skipped in the next rotation.
Harsh rules aside though, Barry was a likeable guy. He was a jokester. According to to David Maraniss, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, Barry of the Choom Gang, is described as the guy who would elbow into the rotation, snatch the joint mid pass and yell, “Interception!”
Barry loved smoking pot so much that he would devise economic smoking methods in an effort to achieve the maximum high. He introduced roof hits to the gang as a result - a method in which the gang members would take hits from all the smoke smothering itself against the roof of the van after a smoking session in which all the doors and windows had been closed. Barry was like the Choom Gang Chairman.
But who the hell is Barry and what's a Choom?
Choom was slang back in 1970’s Hawaii; the setting for the era of Barry and The Choom Gang; it's a term used in reference for smoking weed. Barry? He has another name too... It's Barack. Barack Obama.
That's right. The one, the same, the 44th President of the United States of America, was a stoner.
If you're like me, hearing these allegations leveled at the President are shocking. I had always known that Obama had a firm anti-marijuana stance, having admitted to using it before, but I had never heard the full extent of his use.
In his 1995 memoir titled, “Dreams from my Father”, Barack speaks very openly about his marijuana use in this statement, "I blew a few smoke rings, remembering those years. Pot had helped, and booze; maybe a little blow when you could afford it…” he continues openly further in the book, “Junkie... Pothead... That’s where I’d be headed: the final, fatal role of the young would-be black man. Except the highs hadn’t been about that, me trying to prove what a down brother I was…”
The President even reflects on his youth spent as a Choom Gang affiliate with fondness. In his high school yearbook entry, he thanked them all saying, “Thanks Ray and the Choom Gang for all the good times.”
Despite Barack’s heavy marijuana use during his formative years he continued on to Harvard Law School, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude, rose through the Senate and now holds the top job in the United States of America. (The rest of the Choom gang all graduated high school and went on to become successful and productive lawyers, writers, and businessmen.)
Regardless of your political views or personal opinions on the guy, that's some pretty impressive shit.
There's no denying that Barack has changed over the years and no longer aligns himself with the same views that his former self, Barry, did. These days his thoughts on the prohibition can be summed up in this statement found on the White House website, “Confusing messages being presented by popular culture, media, proponents of ‘medical’ marijuana, and political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana is harmless. This significantly diminishes efforts to keep our young people drug free.”
It's this outlook that perpetuates the negative connotations associated with the stoner stereotype. Big Brother has led us to believe that marijuana will ruin your life, that it's a scourge, a plague.
To reinforce this popular thought, we are constantly bombarded with images and ideas of what marijuana does to a person, how it affects their daily life and the bearing it has on the user's future.
Cheech and Chong are probably the most recognizable faces that are associated with the cannabis culture by people who really just don't know any better.
They’re the affable stoners that found fame in 70’s and 80’s from not much other than smoking dope. They didn't really have any ambition, they didn't really have any brains and they certainly didn't ’t have any future. The recognition of these traits in the hugely famous movie characters translates into a bigoted sentiment that is felt across the planet by both medical patients and recreational users alike based upon these misrepresentations about the sort of people the stoner culture breeds.
Popular majority would have you believe that smoking dope leads you down a dismal, hopeless abyss.
The past habits of arguably the most powerful and influential leader in the world is irrefutable proof that this is not the case.
This is the point in the conversation where the prohibitionist inserts a claim about the so and so that they know, who had such a bright future ahead of them but then began smoking weed, therefore obviously became lazy, ambitionless assholes.
In the spirit of honesty, I concede, yes, there's a lot of lazy, ambitionless stoners out there giving weed a bad name for sure… but let's keep this in mind- Marijuana does not change a person, it simply brings out the person they truly are.
If you meet a lazy asshole stoner who doesn't care about much, well then, they are just inconsiderate asssholes that decided to smoke some pot, not aspiring hopefuls in life that decided to smoke and became ambitionless assholes as a direct result.
Barry demonstrates this beautifully through the story of his life.
In closing I guess what I’m trying to say is this: While we shouldn’t be so arrogant as to assume that smoking pot will win you the US presidency, neither should we be so ignorant to assume that it turns people into things that they are not.
"Thanks Tut, Gramps, Choom Gang, and Ray for all the good times."
I've got the sudden urge to go climb inside my van and do some roof hits. Thanks for the advice, Barry.
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