In an interview with The New Yorker that’s sure to light up some choice marijuana controversy, President Barack Obama said he “[doesn’t] think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” President Obama said in the interview.
After being asked to clarify, President Obama took a moment before saying he feels marijuana is less dangerous “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” Obama went on to say marijuana isn’t something he’d encourage and that he has warned his daughters that it is “a bad idea, a waste of time,” and “not very healthy.”
With the legalized marijuana experiments going on in Colorado and Washington, President Obama called for an end to the disproportionate punishment for marijuana-related offenses along the socio-economic spectrum.
“Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” President Obama said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.”
“We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing,” Obama continued.
While his ideas are progressive and uniquely candid among Commanders-In-Chief, President Obama made it clear he recognizes that total marijuana legalization opens a door, a gateway drug if you will, and on the other side of that door lies a slippery slope of other currently-contraband substances being brought into the conversation.
“If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, ‘Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka,’ are we open to that?” President Obama queried. “If somebody says, ‘We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth,’ are we O.K. with that?”
Obama isn’t the only one putting his thoughts out there on the issue of marijuana legalization. And the L.A. Times notes there are marijuana initiatives on the ballots of four states come November. Is America coming closer to cashing the bowl of contraband cannabis or is legalized marijuana a dangerous pipe dream?
(Image retrieved from The Deliberate Agrarian)