President Obama, in his most public statement yet, argues that marijuana use is no more dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” President Obama admits to using pot as a kid in New York but has encouraged his children to avoid it, not only because it’s a bad habit, but because it is unhealthy and a waste of time.
How will President Obama’s comments affect federal Marijuana laws?
The president’s comments are one more indication that public opinion on the use of recreational pot may be shifting. Although marijuana use remains illegal in every state except Colorado and Washington, some states have legalized pot use for medicinal purposes. Earlier this year, Colorado and Washington adopted state laws making it legal to possess and use small amounts of marijuana.
Marijuana sales have been booming, and store owners have had difficulty keeping enough inventory for consumers. Much of the interest has been from out of state buyers who are traveling to the state to make legal purchases of the product. What is not clear, however, is the long-term effects of the legalization of the drug and the impact on the youth of our nation.
President keeps eyes on state legalization experiments
President Obama admits legalizing the drug is an experiment, one which should be closely watched. He noted one of his primary concerns with criminalizing the drug is that many African-American kids and Latino kids are disproportionately arrested and imprisoned for marijuana use. He noted that many lawmakers may have also used pot recreationally, but it’s often the poorer kids who do not have access to good legal resources who are incarcerated for long stretches of time.
President Obama, however, is quick to note that legalization may not be the answer and may not offer a “panacea for social problems.” In fact, he believes “legalization in those two states is going to be a challenge.”
Mason Tvert, director of communications for the Marijuana Policy Project in Denver, believes the President’s remarks may be helpful to his cause. Tvert advocates for legalization and argued that President Obama’s remarks, “underscore the need for reconsidering federal and state marijuana prohibitions.” In fact, according to Tvert, “The first step to improving our nation’s marijuana policy is admitting that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol. Now that he has recognized that laws jailing adults for using marijuana are inappropriate, it is time to amend for those errors and adopt a more fact-based marijuana policy.”
So is marijuana less dangerous than alcohol? It will be hard to know for sure until more information on its long-term use is gathered. Advocates argue, however, that “Marijuana is less harmful than alcohol because it is less toxic and less addictive, and it does not contribute to violent and aggressive behavior like alcohol does.”
Marijuana and driving under the influence
Regardless of state laws, it is illegal to operate a motorized vehicle under the influence of pot. Drivers who are arrested for DUI will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
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