Pubdate: Mon, 20 Jan 2014
Source: Morning Sun (Mt. Pleasant, MI)
Copyright: 2014 Morning Sun


WASHINGTON (AP) - President Barack Obama said he doesn't think 
marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, "in terms of its impact on 
the individual consumer."

"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," the president said an 
interview with "The New Yorker" magazine.

Smoking marijuana is "not something I encourage, and I've told my 
daughters I think it's a bad idea, a waste of time, not very 
healthy," Obama said.

Obama's administration has given states permission to experiment with 
marijuana regulation, and laws recently passed in Colorado and 
Washington legalizing marijuana recently went into effect. The 
president said it was important for the legalization of marijuana to 
go forward in those states to avoid a situation in which only a few 
are punished while a large portion of people have broken the law at 
one time or another.

The president said he is troubled at the disproportionate number of 
arrests and imprisonments of minorities for marijuana use. 
"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."

He said in the interview that users shouldn't be locked up for long 
stretches of time when people writing drug laws "have probably done 
the same thing."

But Obama urged a cautious approach to changing marijuana laws, 
saying that people who think legalizing pot will solve social 
problems are "probably overstating the case."

"And the experiment that's going to be taking place in Colorado and 
Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge," the president said.

Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance 
praised Obama's words, saying his use of the word "important" about 
the new Colorado and Washington laws "really puts the wind in the 
sails of the movement to end marijuana prohibition.

Critics of the new laws raise concerns about public health and law 
enforcement, asking whether wide availability of the drug will lead 
to more underage drug use, more cases of driving while high and more crime.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom