“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,”
Is the public perception of pot changing? And will a statement from President Obama help to make that shift?
Early in 2014, just weeks after legalized marijuana went on sale in Colorado, Obama came out publicly saying, “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” The comments were made to the New Yorker. The President did go on to reference his own marijuana use as a kid and add, “It’s not something I encourage, and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”
Currently, marijuana is still categorized alongside heroin, ecstasy and psychedelic mushrooms by the federal government as a schedule 1 controlled substance – a drug with high potential for abuse but no accepted medical use. Referring to this, Obama said in the New Yorker interview that he’s focused on making laws that treat users fairly. “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 told the magazine.
Under Obama’s direction, prosecutors are focusing on enforcement priorities that include preventing driving while high and forbidding the cultivation of marijuana on public lands.
Where is pot already legalized?
Two states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized recreational marijuana use, while another 18 (along with the District of Columbia) allow some legal pot use, primarily for medicinal purposes. According to the White House, Obama doesn’t support changing that status, despite his controversial comments.
Of course, not everyone agrees with Obama’s assessment of marijuana. Just days before the New Yorker article hit newsstands, James L. Capra, the chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) called the legalization of marijuana at the state level “reckless and irresponsible,” warning that the movement to decriminalize the sale of pot in the United States will have severe consequences. The remarks were made during a hearing on drug cultivation in Afghanistan. “Every part of the world where this has been tried, it has failed time and time again,” Capra added.
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