Marijuana legalization (first medically and now recreationally) has been a relevant topic for many years, and its proponents have often looked to President Barack Obama for a meaningful reaction of some sort: a glimpse of his former stoner self perhaps, or even a warning sign of troublesome drug policies to come. Well, in a recent interview with the New Yorker’s David Remnick, Obama has openly admitted that marijuana is “no more dangerous than alcohol.” In fact, the president believes that “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer,” it is actually less dangerous than alcohol.
While he believes pot is “a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy,” (a conclusion he’s reached from first-hand experience) he also argues that it’s important the legalization experiments in Washington and Colorado move ahead unhindered. “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he says. “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.”
In a timid move typical for politicians, the president did slip in a fail-safe to not be mistaken as too terribly “pro-marijuana.” He warns that “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 O.K. with that?”
Overall, the president may be personally expressing these progressive ideals, but a drastically different position is demonstrated on the www.whitehouse.gov website: “The Administration steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana… because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs, and pose significant health and safety risks to all Americans, particularly young people.”
This “steadfast opposition” hardly matches the president’s open-minded admission made for the New Yorker, but if you look at President Obama’s stance toward medical marijuana historically, it is even less clear what his “official” position is.
Obama went on record in 2004 as in favor of medical marijuana legalization. Additionally, he told an Oregon newspaper in 2008 that, if he was elected president, he’d cease the DEA raids on medical marijuana clinics. However, in Obama’s first four years as president, the DEA raided more MMJ clinics than in both of George W. Bush’s presidential terms.
All of this really begs the question: what sort of ex-stoner is President Obama, anyway? He’s clearly not bitter about his past usage, and he hasn’t stopped engaging in other “more dangerous” vices. It has been well documented that the President is known to have a martini or two every once in a while.
If that little indulgence is acceptable, what’s wrong with a few puffs off a joint? Does he seriously think we should worry about potheads getting their way with cannabis, then deciding that they need access to legal cocaine and crystal meth? Or is his admission just a sneaky political maneuver to keep clear of negative press?
Don’t worry, Mr. President, we get it: you’re still relatively young, you’ve got a lot of eyes on you right now, and you’re incredibly busy. You’re also the most powerful man in the world.
But at the end of all this… when you’re old, retired, and vacationing at a quiet cabin in some gorgeous, protected woodlands (you also will have saved the planet from climate change at this point), and the cannabis plant has been legalized worldwide (because, duh), and Michelle stayed at home or is off with her family for the weekend, or maybe she’s even sitting right next to you talking about how wonderfully it all turned out… go ahead. The birds are singing, the sun is shining down on your happy little paradise. It’s a truly, undeniably beautiful day… so go ahead.
Light one up. Nobody has to know about it, and you’ve gotta remember just how phenomenal it feels to be surrounded by Mother Nature like that, just after sampling one of her delicious treats.
Do you really think a bump of coke or a little gasp of meth could even come close to helping you appreciate life, beauty, and the goodness of the world in the same way? Face it, Mr. President: the effects of cannabis are nothing like those of manufactured drugs, and you know it.
Photo Credit: Steve Rhodes