by David Downs
President Obama sat down with The New Yorker’s David Remnick in a long, revealing interview on many topics, including the president’s evolving views on gay marriage and … wait for it, weed:
“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.”
‘Is it less dangerous?’ Remnick asked.
The president took a long pause.
Less dangerous, he said, “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer. 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.”
What clearly does trouble him is the radically disproportionate arrests and incarcerations for marijuana among minorities. “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.”
"... 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.”
The legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington is important to progress "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.”
Legal pot is no panacea, the president added, and “the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.”
Read the whole thing here.