An interview was released by the New Yorker today in which United States President Barack Obama had some interesting things to say. It was a lengthy interview covering many areas of public policy, with a specific Q & A session about marijuana. When asked asked about marijuana, Barack Obama stated the following:
"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."
There are two ways a marijuana reformer can look at these sentences. One way to look at it is 'Obama just said that marijuana isn't more dangerous than alcohol.' This is a significant statement for the President of the United States to make about marijuana. The other way to look at it is 'Obama is such a hypocrite. Why the F doesn't he just legalize it like alcohol then!?' Both ways to look at Obama's statements are definitely valid. Obama went on to say:
"Less dangerous, he said, "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. It's not something I encourage, and I've told my daughters I think it's a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy." What clearly does trouble him is the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities. "Middle-class kids don't get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do," he 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." But, he said, "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." Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that "it's important for it to go forward because it's important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.""
I agree with Barack Obama that marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington is important for going forward. Everyday that marijuana is grown and sold legally, and tax revenue piles up, is a day that the world gets to see that legalizing marijuana is a great thing. Everyone wins, no one loses, no matter what Kevin Sabet says.
What do readers think of President Obama's comments? Are you surprised at his comments? How many of you out there think that this is rhetoric, and that he needs to back up his words with actions? That's how I feel for the most part. I can read 1,000 of these types of statements by Obama, but until he actually backs it up with actions and does something more than issue a meaningless memo, I still think he sucks.
To learn more about how marijuana is safer than alcohol, check out this great resource that Marijuana Policy Project has.