Barack Obama Supports Marijuana Legalization In Colorado And Washington

By McCarton Ackerman 01/20/14

The President says marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol and drug laws unfairly target poor minority kids.

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After previously speaking out against the federal legalization of marijuana, Barack Obama has declared in a New Yorker interview published yesterday that he supports Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana for adults. The President stated that he believes “it’s important for it to go forward 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.” However, he has not made any public statements supporting the legalization of marijuana nationwide.

Obama justified his support for the two states legalizing pot due to the disproportionately large number of African-American and Latino teenagers who are incarcerated for marijuana possession compared to whites. “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.”

The President also said during the interview that he believes marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the original consumer.” Obama says: “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.” However he says he personally believes it's “a bad idea.”

Last month, Denver Post marijuana editor Ricardo Baca confirmed that there is a yellow light in place for banks to work with marijuana businesses in Colorado, which is currently forbidden because banks are federally regulated and pot is still classified as a Schedule I drug.

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.