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In the News: Obama Says Marijuana Less Dangerous Than Alcohol

In a recent interview that appears in The New Yorker magazine, President Obama said that marijuana is “not very healthy,” however, he believes it isn’t as harmful as some people insist.

When the president was asked if marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, Obama said it is less damaging “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.”

“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,” Obama told The New Yorker.

“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,” he added.

Marijuana – a Schedule I Drug

Despite some state laws that allow for medicinal marijuana and even recreational marijuana, the drug is still classified by the Drug Enforcement Administration as a Schedule I substance – a category of “the most dangerous class of drugs with a high potential for abuse and potentially severe psychological and/or physical dependence,” according to the DEA. Among Schedule I drugs are: heroin, ecstasy and LSD. Therefore, the U.S. government considers pot to be just as dangerous and harmful as substances like heroin – a drug that the general public seems to have consensus on as probably one of the worst drugs around.

And despite the medical findings and therapeutic uses that have been claimed regarding marijuana, it remains a Schedule I drug, which is described as a substance or chemical with no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse.

Marijuana and the Judicial Sphere

President Obama stated his perspective regarding the reform of laws that punish drug users and noted the racial disproportion in drug arrests:

“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 president said.

Obama went on to say, “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.”

In a clear breach from the long, ongoing ‘war on drugs’ that has been the stance of the U.S. government,  the Obama administration has announced that it would not halt the legalization of the recreational use of marijuana at the state level, which has already taken place in such states as Washington and Colorado, where recreational pot has been OK’d.

Also in his interview with The New Yorker, Obama said he believes that such new laws are “important.”

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