Barack Obama says marijuana is ‘no more dangerous than alcohol’ and users should not be jailed
US President adds that the substance is actually less damaging ‘in terms of its impact on the individual customer’
As the marijuana legalisation debate rages in the US, President Barack Obama has said he thinks cannabis use is “not very different from cigarettes” and no more dangerous than alcohol.
Speaking in an interview with the New Yorker editor David Remnick, Mr Obama said that while “it’s not something I encourage”, those who are caught using marijuana should not be given prison sentences.
While the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the US still classes marijuana as a “Schedule One” substance on a par with heroin or ecstasy, it has now been legalised for recreational use in two states, Colorado and Washington.
Mr Obama told the weekly magazine: “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.”
When pressed on whether he felt marijuana was less harmful than alcohol, the President said he agreed it was less damaging “in terms of its impact on the individual customer”.
The Justice Department has previously said it will focus more on catching and prosecuting those supplying the drug than on individual users, which Mr Obama said was a better Government focus than trying to change marijuana’s legal status.
Colorado became the first US state where shops could legally sell recreational marijuana on January 1 “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,” he said.
The president praised Colorado and Washington’s laws, saying it is “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”.
But he said they also raised concerns that legalisation could be pushed too far. “If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, ‘Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka’, are we open to that?” Mr Obama said. “If somebody says, ‘We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth’, are we OK with that?”
Mr Obama’s comments came after New York announced it would join 20 other states, and Washington DC, in permitting the sale, possession and use of marijuana for medicinal purposes.
- 1 Venezuela Expo Tattoo 2015: Extreme body art from 'Vampire Woman' to 109mm earlobes
- 3 Ball pool for adults opens in London
- 4 Amal Clooney gives excellent response to fashion question at European Court of Human Rights
Boris Johnson claims porn-obsessed Islamic jihadists are 'literally w*****s'
Saudi preacher who 'raped and tortured' his five -year-old daughter to death is released after paying 'blood money'
Putin opponent reveals Russian President's daughter's secret identity
Ball pool for adults opens in London
Gay couple buy JebBushForPresident.com web domain, and refuse to sell
9 reasons Greece's experiment with the radical left is doomed to failure
Have we reached 'peak food'? Shortages loom as global production rates slow
Greece elections: Syriza and EU on collision course after election win for left-wing party
British grandmother Lindsay Sandiford faces execution by firing squad in Indonesia
Liberal Democrat minister defends comments suggesting immigration causes pub closures
King Abdullah dead: We can't afford not to hold Saudi Arabia's royals to account
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: SEN Teacher We have a fantastic special n...
Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an 11-18 all ability co-educat...
£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 6 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...
£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...