Obama expects to see more weed legalisation across US following Colorado success

He believes treating use of the drug as a criminal problem has had a devastating effect among minority communities

Christopher Hooton
Monday 16 February 2015 14:05 GMT

President Obama has discussed the marijuana legalisation sweeping the US, saying that it is his "suspicion that you're gonna see other states looking at this".

YouTube vlogger Hank Green said during an interview that he felt the current grey area surrounding the legality of the drug in the US is leading to excessive incarcerations particularly among minorities, and that the places which have legalised cannabis are "pretty much doing okay", and the president was in agreement.

"What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana," Obama said.

"The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue.

"My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this."

Legalisation talk begins around 11 minute-mark below

The president went on to say that he will continue to have his administration review treatment of nonviolent drug offenders, the emphasis of which should be health not criminality.

He believes the way marijuana laws are unequally applied to minorities constitutes a need for reform.

"What I am doing at the federal level is asking my Department of Justice just to examine generally how we are treating nonviolent drug offenders," he said.

"Because I think you’re right, what we have done is instead of focusing on treatment, the same way we focused say with tobacco or drunk driving or other problems where we treat it as a public health problem, we’ve treated this exclusively as a criminal problem. And I think that it’s been counterproductive and it’s been devastating in a lot of minority communities. It presents the possibility at least of unequal application of the law and that has to be changed.

"Now the good news is that we’re starting to get some interest from Republicans as well as Democrats in reforming the criminal justice system. We’ve been able to initiate some changes administratively and last year you had the first time in 40 years where the crime rate and the incarceration rate went down at the same time. I hope we can continue with those trends because they’re just a smarter way of dealing with these issues."

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