News

Obama: Pot ‘no more dangerous’ than alcohol

Obama: Pot ‘no more dangerous’ than alcohol

SMOKE 'EM IF YOU GOT 'EM?: President Obama says smoking marijuana is a "bad habit" and one he cautions his daughters against. Photo: Associated Press

President Barack Obama believes smoking marijuana is a “bad habit” but thinks legal penalties now fall disproportionately on minorities and that states legalizing pot should go ahead with their plans, he said in a profile released on Sunday.

“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,” he is quoted as saying in a New Yorker magazine article. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

The president said he has told his daughters smoking marijuana is “a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”

However, he said he is concerned that marijuana-related arrests fall far more heavily on minorities than on others. Legalization of pot should go forward in the states of Colorado and Washington 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,” he said.

Marijuana remains illegal in the United States under federal law, but 21 U.S. states allow or are about to allow medical marijuana use, and Colorado and Washington have decriminalized use of pot entirely. Alaska and the District of Columbia are considering following suit.

The Obama administration said last year that federal law enforcement will not target users in Colorado and Washington, as long as they comply with their respective states’ laws.

The Department of Justice says it will not interfere with states’ efforts to regulate and tax marijuana provided they are able to meet a set of requirements, including keeping it from children and restricting its flow into other states.

The president also said he believes that those who argue that legalizing marijuana will solve a number of social problems “are probably overstating the case.” Legalization in Colorado and Washington will likely be a challenge, he said.

In the lengthy profile, the president muses over race, the Middle East, and criticism of his efforts to woo Congress, among other topics. Discussing race, he said that he believes some people will never accept having a black president.

The president said that the three sets of negotiations involving Iran, Israel and the Palestinians, and Syria each have less than a 50-50 chance of succeeding, but are necessary steps toward achieving stability in a volatile region.

If we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion … you could see an equilibrium developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there’s competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare,” he said.

On the question of whether Obama will write a memoir, former adviser David Axelrod called it a “slam dunk” that the president will. A literary agent estimated publishers will pay between $17 million and $20 million for one.

Obama said narrowing the gap between rich and poor would be a key part of his legacy.

“I will measure myself at the end of my presidency in large part by whether I began the process of rebuilding the middle class and the ladders into the middle class and reversing the trend toward economic bifurcation in this society,” he said.

(Reporting By Mark Felsenthal; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)

Recent Headlines

in Local Sports

WSU’s Leach looking to build on last year’s bowl game

Fresh
Washington State Head Coach Mike Leach takes questions at the 2014 Pac-12 NCAA college football media days at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

The Cougars return eight starters, including school record setting, senior quarterback Connor Halliday, from a 6-and-7 campaign last season.

in Local Sports

USC’s Sarkisian happy for the University of Washington

Updated
Southern California head coach Steve Sarkisian takes questions at the Pac-12 NCAA college football media days at Paramount Studios in Los Angeles, Wednesday, July 23, 2014.

USC's Sarkisian on the Huskies: "I can honestly say I'll be rooting for them this fall."

in Local Sports

Colon overpowers Seattle in New York’s 3-2 win

Updated
New York Mets starting pitcher Bartolo Colon throws against the Seattle Mariners in the first inning of a baseball game, Wednesday, July 23, 2014 in Seattle.

Colon came within seven outs of a perfect game giving up a single to Robinson Cano with two outs in the seventh inning. Mariners drop series to Mets and have gone just 2-and-4 since the All-Star break.

in Local Sports

Oregon picked to win Pac-12 in preseason poll

pac 12 logo

The Washington Huskies and Washington State Cougars were picked to finish 3rd and 5th respectively in the North Division.

in Sports

Kansas City Chiefs, running back Jamaal Charles reach deal

Updated
Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) runs the ball against the Denver Broncos in the second quarter of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 17, 2013, in Denver.

The six-year NFL veteran ran for 1,287 yards and 12 touchdowns last year as the Chiefs reached the playoffs.