President Obama: Marijuana Less Dangerous Than Alcohol; Legalization in WA and CO “Important”

  • by Erik Altieri, NORML Executive Director January 19, 2014

    In a profile published online over the weekend in New Yorker magazine, President Barack Obama continued his softening towards marijuana legalization. In the interview, the president alluded to his own youthful marijuana consumption and clarified that, while he doesn’t believe it to be a healthy pastime and has discouraged his daughters from its use, it is a less dangerous substance than alcohol. President Obama also stated that current moves towards legalization are important experiments that can help end discriminatory arrest practices.

    “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 stated when asked about the growing public support for ending marijuana prohibition.

    When asked to clarify if he thought it was “less dangerous,” Obama replied that he thought it was less dangerous “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” He continued that “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.”

    “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do 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.” he stated, “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.”

    “It’s important for it [marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington] 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.”

    You can read the full article on the New Yorker’s website here.

    Perhaps President Obama will continue to evolve and find himself on the right side of history when it comes to marijuana legalization. It would take just one simple Executive Order to deschedule marijuana from the Controlled Substances Act and help institute some real lasting change in our nation’s failed war on cannabis. At a minimum, these statements show just how far we have come from the “Just Say No” era of American politics.

    110 responses to “President Obama: Marijuana Less Dangerous Than Alcohol; Legalization in WA and CO “Important””

    1. Patricia says:

      This is a major improvement in the torturous relationship between reality and Washington DC.

    2. Judy says:

      Mr. President … Please look into your hear and ask yourself, how can this plant change the lives of Americans and what will be the impact to our economy.

      Also, it gives a very loud message to the world that we are a Progressive Nation of diverse peoples that are always taking the leading position when it comes to History Changing Events. Let the legalization of cannabis be your legacy.

    3. el kiloone says:

      Please sign;The Executive Order to decriminalize marijuana from the Controlled Substance Act …..

    4. el kiloone says:

      Get rid of the thugs, and put the distribution in the hands of knowledgeable people,. and save money for the government…

    5. imyou says:

      are they finally in touch with reality, wow…

    6. RUT says:

      Does OBAMA want to have it both ways? Todays politician wants to sit on the fence. Make little hints to both sides of an issue but do nothing concrete. If Mr. OBAMA got caught and arrested for smoking pot while in college he may not be president today. The fact that he can protect minorities and others from arrest or ruin by correcting the dishonest “class one substance” label that allows prosecutors use to get long sentences against users. He wants to protect his daughters by leaving a scary label on pot and do do this while others will go to jail. IF YOU REALY WANT TO FIX THIS WRONG DO SOMETHING OTHER THAN HINTS! RECLASSIFY POT! NOT BECAUSE OF PUBLIC OPINION BUT BECAUSE OF SCIENCE. WHY SHOULD PEOPLE BE GOING TO JAIL OVER JUNK SCIENCE,FEAR AND LIES. HOME OF THE FREE OR HOME OF THE STUPID. 70 YEARS AND WE STILL DO NOT HAVE IT RIGHT!

    7. Fred says:

      I am pretty upset that the Pres. thinks any jail time is appropriate. I am sure he knows the real history of our laws. His statements are not what I would like to hear from someone with his life experiences. Now if he were proposing big cuts to the DEA…then that is something else.

    8. Tom Speed says:

      “As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a ***VICE***”

      AT LAST! 🙂


      “Vices are those acts by which a man harms himself or his property.

      Crimes are those acts by which one man harms the person or property of another.

      Vices are simply the errors which a man makes in his search after his own happiness. Unlike crimes, they imply no malice toward others, and no interference with their persons or property.

      In vices, the very essence of crime — that is, the design to injure the person or property of another — is wanting.

      It is a maxim of the law that there can be no crime without a criminal intent; that is, without the intent to invade the person or property of another. But no one ever practises a vice with any such criminal intent. He practises his vice for his own happiness solely, and not from any malice toward others.

      Unless this clear distinction between vices and crimes be made and recognized by the laws, there can be on earth no such thing as individual right, liberty, or property; no such things as the right of one man to the control of his own person and property, and the corresponding and coequal rights of another man to the control of his own person and property.

      For a government to declare a vice to be a crime, and to punish it as such, is an attempt to falsify the very nature of things. It is as absurd as it would be to declare truth to be falsehood, or falsehood truth.”

    9. Toni Jeske says:

      unlawful unjust warrant served against my house because I smoke marijuana. I’ve worked for 27 years bought my house with a loan I pay my taxes and because marijuana is illegal they can bust down my door and demolish all my possessions to arrest me for a scant amount of marijuana. I went to jail. been smoking marijuana for 30 plus years. Legalize it and keep tax payers out of jail.

    10. TheOracle says:

      I don’t expect Obama to stick his neck out that far by signing an executive order, but I do expect him to instruct his minions to respond to the letter sent by Jared Polis and other politicians to allow cannabis banking.

      I mean, what the hell are they waiting for? They knew this was coming. The Republicans are playing their role by not wanting to extend unemployment benefits and not getting any jobs bill through. Obama is for tried and proven job-making. Well, cannabis sector jobs are instant jobs, tried and true, and the prohibitionists don’t have anything better or they’d be implementing it.

      What’s it going to take for the feds to allow cannabis banking? A cannabis banking permit? How the hell much will that cost? What kind of paperwork and hassle goes along with it?

      Now, you have people in decision-making positions here in the administration, Obama’s minions, career bureaucrats and technocrats, and they’ve got a chance to right a system that allows so many wrongs to be done against otherwise law-abiding citizens, disproportionately stigmatizing poor people, a class weapon, holding some people back. Get rid of the assholes in the decision-making process or convert them. Look, as someone who has been battling cancer, I want all areas researched for cures, so these people currently in decision-making positions have to clear the obstacles put in the way of cannabis research. They need to let the banking go forward and call off the federal dawgz. They need to tell the UN to change its prohibitionist treaties regarding cannabis. The UN is pretty much a paper tiger, send you a bitch letter on official stationery, unless the US or other country on the security council puts its money and weapons where its mouth is.

      Get Academi (formerly Black Water) type trained services to provide 360 degree security for cannabis community banks or credit associations. Armed to the teeth to protect against hits by the cartels on their legal competition. Feds shouldn’t do anything that might make the security personnel think they are from a cartel. Banks launder a bunch drug money for the CIA, their so-called assets, Mexican governors along the border states and other Mexican officials have said the CIA is working with cartels on numerous occasions.

      Barry, just get the UN to change its language to allow countries to decide if they want to legalize or maintain prohibition of cannabis, and have your underlings come up with some kind of noninterference policy for legal cannabis banking and call off the dawgz. My warmest regards to your wife for her birthday.