Pubdate: Mon, 20 Jan 2014
Source: Delaware County Daily Times (PA)
Copyright: 2014 The Daily Times
Page: 16


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 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.
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