Marijuana

Barack Obama: Marijuana Less Dangerous Than Alcohol

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The New Yorker's David Remnick has released his long-awaited profile of President Obama and, no surprises here, it's a long one. Clocking in at almost 17,000 words, the piece has several interesting insights, one of which comes when Remnick asked the president about the legalization of marijuana, and points out that Obama did not seem eager "to evolve with any dispatch and get in front of the issue." But Obama still says some things that would have been unthinkable for a president only a few years ago.

"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," Obama said. "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol." When Remnick pressed on whether marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol, Obama thought about it for a while and said it was less dangerous "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer," but emphasized that "it's not something I encourage." The president expressed particular concern with the disproportionate number of arrests for marijuana possession among minorities. "Middle-class kids don't get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do," he said, adding that individual users shouldn't be locked up "for long stretches of jail time."