Adapted from Mirror
President Barack Obama has said that smoking cannabis is safer than drinking alcohol in comments likely to fuel further controversy over US drug laws.
The President, who puffed on joints as a teenager, believes the substance is not as dangerous “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer”.
But he hastened to 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.” Marijuana has been legalised in Colorado and Washington by referendum and Obama said it was “important” for the states to end the criminalisation of young smokers from poor backgrounds.
He said: “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do. “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.” Obama added that “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”.
Marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law despite being legalised in Colorado and Washington – and the Government has been unwilling to change its stance. The drug went on sale to long queues in Colorado on January 1 and Washington is expected to follow.
Obama said “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, the US leader said “those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case.
“There is a lot of hair on that policy. “And the experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge.”
Obama, 52, also distanced himself from any softening in his administration’s stance to harder drugs.Â He said:
“I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues.
“If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka, are we open to that? If somebody says, “We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth, are we OK with that?”