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Obama: Pot is not more dangerous than alcohol

By Associated Press

LAST UPDATED: 01:27 a.m. HST, Jan 20, 2014

WASHINGTON » President Barack Obama said he doesn't think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol, "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," the president said an interview with "The New Yorker" magazine.

Smoking marijuana is "not something I encourage, and I've told my daughters I think it's a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy," Obama said.

Obama's administration has given states permission to experiment with marijuana regulation, and laws recently passed in Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana recently went into effect. The president said it was important for the legalization of marijuana to go forward in those states to avoid a situation in which only a few are punished while a large portion of people have broken the law at one time or another.

The president said he is troubled at the disproportionate number of arrests and imprisonments of minorities for marijuana use. "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."

He said in the interview that users shouldn't be locked up for long stretches of time when people writing drug laws "have probably done the same thing."

But Obama urged a cautious approach to changing marijuana laws, saying that people who think legalizing pot will solve social problems are "probably overstating the case."

"And the experiment that's going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge," the president said.

Ethan Nadelmann, the executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance praised Obama's words, saying his use of the word "important" about the new Colorado and Washington laws "really puts the wind in the sails of the movement to end marijuana prohibition.

Critics of the new laws raise concerns about public health and law enforcement, asking whether wide availability of the drug will lead to more underage drug use, more cases of driving while high and more crime.

Obama has acknowledged smoking marijuana while he was in high school in Hawaii. 

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mcc wrote:
Then alcohol should be illegal and marijuana should be legal.
on January 19,2014 | 09:42AM
1local wrote:
Democrats voted for a druggie and son of an underaged (age of consent was 21 - just look at mothers age on birth certificate). Obama played the 'n' card several times in high school trying to get off the bench...
on January 19,2014 | 02:09PM
RetiredWorking wrote:
1local, and you know this.....how? Were you on the team?
on January 19,2014 | 02:23PM
mrluke wrote:
"son of an underaged" (??) Please explain what the heck you're talking about!
on January 19,2014 | 02:37PM
kolohepalu wrote:
on January 19,2014 | 07:49PM
Bdpapa wrote:
What an irresponsible statement! Shame on him and all the enablers out there!
on January 19,2014 | 09:46AM
Slow wrote:
Was he incorrect? Was he lying? Was he factual?
on January 19,2014 | 10:16AM
kainalu wrote:
No. No. And yes. It was IRRESPONSIBLE for all the previous administrations going back some 80-years for not making a statement on the issue.
on January 19,2014 | 11:07AM
serious wrote:
He spoke without his Teleprompter!!!! He's not up for reelection so he can say anything!! Does anyone think he was among Marlboros????? Heck he's from Hawaii, pot capital!!
on January 19,2014 | 11:23AM
kuewa wrote:
Has pakalolo harmed you in some way?
on January 19,2014 | 10:37AM
kekelaward wrote:
Yeah. I burnt my fingers because I was too stupid to bring a roach clip with me (this was before I found out about crutches and Jefferson Airplanes).
on January 19,2014 | 11:02AM
Bdpapa wrote:
I'm responding like a responsible adult, children! This is the leader of our country endorsing another intoxicant into society ever so subtly. I think its much like alcohol but this was very inappropriate. Was he doing an interview with Rolling Stone?
on January 19,2014 | 11:33AM
NITRO08 wrote:
Grow up!
on January 19,2014 | 12:04PM
Bdpapa wrote:
Be responsible!
on January 19,2014 | 04:09PM
Slow wrote:
Thank you Daddy. You tried being responsible. Really good try. Keep trying and you'll get it some day. Marijuana is here and itis not going away. It has been widely used since the mid 60's. Other than fattening the bank accounts of drug dealers and alcohol manufacturers has it caused any actual harm? Maybe you can moralize someplace else.
on January 20,2014 | 08:37AM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
Do you drink any form of alcohol BD? If so, you're a hypocrite of the worse type. Alcohol is much stronger than marijuana in it's effect on human behavior and judgment, it goes to reason that drunk people are far more dangerous to society than one who has smoked marijuana.
on January 19,2014 | 01:13PM
Bdpapa wrote:
I don't do anything illegal.
on January 19,2014 | 04:10PM
saywhatyouthink wrote:
If you favor outlawing Marijuana, then you should also favor the outlawing of alcohol. Otherwise you're just another hypocrite. Alcohol is proven to be far more dangerous than marijuana, both in mind altering effect and health consequences. Logically, if only one of these were o be legal, it should be marijuana not alcohol.
on January 19,2014 | 01:01PM
Bdpapa wrote:
I got no problem with outlawing any intoxicant. I used to smoke and I can adapt to used to drink.
on January 19,2014 | 04:11PM
HIE wrote:
Basically, Bdpapa wants to instill Sharia law in America...
on January 20,2014 | 06:41AM
Bdpapa wrote:
No way shape or form. Just no new intoxicants!
on January 20,2014 | 10:02AM
kuroiwaj wrote:
Pot is GMO, is smoked together with tobacco, and is illegal in 48 of the 50 states. The jury is still out on its benefits and/or injury to humans. Yes, Pres. Obama made an irresponsible statement.
on January 19,2014 | 03:37PM
kolohepalu wrote:
Yeah! How come he don't dig his head in the sand like responsible people like you!
on January 19,2014 | 07:50PM
eoe wrote:
In other news, the sky is blue, water flows downhill and caterpillars turn into butterflies.
on January 19,2014 | 09:53AM
kekelaward wrote:
I didn't realize those tractors were Transformers
on January 19,2014 | 11:03AM
thepartyfirst wrote:
Is he talking from experience?
on January 19,2014 | 09:53AM
Slow wrote:
Golly I don't know. The short article only answers your question twice.
on January 19,2014 | 10:15AM
RichardCory wrote:
Whoa, whoa, whoa. Wait a minute. You mean I am expected to actually READ the article before asking stupid questions? You can't be serious!
on January 19,2014 | 10:25AM
kekelaward wrote:
That's the same thing the editorial page editor always says.
on January 19,2014 | 11:06AM
kainalu wrote:
Touché! ... Cory and Slow.
on January 19,2014 | 11:08AM
thepartyfirst wrote:
Impeach this treasonous pothead POTHUS.
on January 19,2014 | 01:00PM
hanalei395 wrote:
"Impeach"? ....... Don't mention that word around Republicans and Chris Christie.
on January 19,2014 | 01:48PM
kolohepalu wrote:
Another useless comment
on January 20,2014 | 06:35AM
NITRO08 wrote:
Wake up!
on January 19,2014 | 12:05PM
SteveToo wrote:
I agree w/him, but here is is again bringing up the "race" issue. This man was born to divide this country. Boo Hiss
on January 19,2014 | 10:37AM
eoe wrote:
Yes, how dare he point out the fact that blacks an latinos get disparate sentences than whites. I think we should just stop talking about blacks and latinos altogether, then everything would be just peachy keen and hunky dory just like the days of Mayberry.
on January 19,2014 | 10:52AM
kekelaward wrote:
Maybe because those groups are arrested for drugs in conjunction with other crimes. You see this happening here too. People who know they are going out to do a crime (like burg or theft from vehicle) and take a rock of ice with them. You've read the stories where some oaf rips off a car, does some ice, passes out at a stop light, and low and behold a passing cop arrests him/her for the auto theft, and then while searching him/her finds drugs and paraphernalia.
on January 19,2014 | 11:10AM
Mythman wrote:
Talking about "blacks" in the national political dialogue started in 1934 during FDR's presidency . Talking about "Latinos" is of much more recent vintage. Talking about pot in this dialogue started with Bill Clinton. From 1934 to the civil rights bill of 1964, is what, thirty years. We've been talking about locally native Hawaiians since 1921, what's that, close to a hundred years.
on January 19,2014 | 01:15PM
NITRO08 wrote:
He only spoke the truth wake up!
on January 19,2014 | 12:05PM
kuewa wrote:
Commercial production and sale of marijuana could provide a big boost for the local economy. No other State has such a well-known reputation for the variety of high quality natural product.
on January 19,2014 | 10:43AM
kainalu wrote:
And all those former pineapple and sugarcane lands. A local pot industry would be exponentially more successful than pineapple or sugarcane.
on January 19,2014 | 11:04AM
kekelaward wrote:
Or the well known reputation for tax the hell out of everything.
on January 19,2014 | 11:11AM
kekelaward wrote:
So why does he still smoke?
on January 19,2014 | 11:01AM
Bdpapa wrote:
I don't think he's smokes anymore.
on January 19,2014 | 11:35AM
kainalu wrote:
If I HAD TO CHOOSE between tobacco, alcohol, and pot as the vice my children or grandchildren would indulge in, then I would choose pot. Tobacco and alcohol are PROVEN killers. Not the case with pot, even after the most extensive studies of their kind.
on January 19,2014 | 11:03AM
serious wrote:
kainalu, I agree, I think there is GMO pot coming on the market!!
on January 19,2014 | 11:24AM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
I don't get it. We all agree that tobacco is bad for your health and mind altering alcohol cause deaths on the road and in other situations that someone is no longer in their right mind. Any you want to add ANOTHER option for people to choose?
on January 19,2014 | 05:56PM
kainalu wrote:
What do you mean "add". Americans have been smoking week for over a century. It's use has been traced back to King Solomon and before - at least 3K years.
on January 19,2014 | 07:01PM
BigIsandLava wrote:
Not to mention the economic benefits once legalized
on January 19,2014 | 11:26AM
BigIsandLava wrote:
I believe alcohol and tobacco lobbyist are throwing billions towards keeping marijuana illegal. I know of plenty pakalolo-passion orange drinkers and choke guys quitting smoking cigarettes smoking pot. can't prohibit tobacco, tax it. Can't keep marijuana illegal, tax it.
on January 19,2014 | 11:30AM
kainalu wrote:
Absolutely. Not only the alcohol and tobacco lobbyist, but the wood-pulp industry and the alternative-fuel industries. A hemp-pulp industry would all but put those latter 2 out of business.
on January 19,2014 | 11:47AM
nodaddynotthebelt wrote:
And don't forget the law enforcement agencies who stand to lose a of funding to enforce laws against the plant. We spend billions each year to enforce the law and incarcerate citizens who would otherwise be contributors to society. Who else gains from illegal marijuana? The criminals who want this plant to remain illegal so that it becomes a high priced commodity. If this plant becomes legal, they, too, would lose a huge amount of tax-free revenue. Our society is very conflicted when it comes to intoxicants. Alcohol is one of the leading causes of death on our roads each year. Crystal meth has caused a lot of problems for our society also. Legalizing marijuana will not take away this deadly drug off the streets but will give consumers an alternative. Hawaii stands to gain exponentially from the legalization of this plant as it would bring in more in tourism and gain in much needed tax revenues. Consumers would not have to become criminals just to partake of a plant that has been cultivated even by a past president in Thomas Jefferson who grew it on his plantation. And it is time to pull the rug from right underneath the real criminals who do not pay taxes on their revenue and charge highway robbery prices. Legalizing marijuana will free up prison space for those who truly need to be behind bars.
on January 19,2014 | 02:39PM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
Are you telling me "taxing" product is a good enough reason to "legalize" anything?
on January 19,2014 | 05:53PM
kainalu wrote:
No. I'm saying why not legalize and regulate what is currently an underground industry - a multi-million dollar industry? Here's the deal: millions of Americans are smoking pot anyway - regardless if it's illegal. The Prohibition Period is the EXACT analogy to the pot situation now. The difference is, you can sit down with a bottle of hard-liquor and literally drink yourself to death - alcohol poisoning. After the "most extensive studies of their kind" - several decades long studies - there's no evidence that pot can kill you, no evidence that it even causes cancer. Burnt hamburger can cause cancer. Google Dr. Donald Tashkin and reference his study on pot. Tashkin is a professor at the UCLA School of Medicine, more importantly, he was the hired-gun of the DEA's, tasked with proving the ills of marijuana. Check out his conclusions.
on January 20,2014 | 06:41AM
Kuokoa wrote:
So enforce the federal laws, liberal!
on January 19,2014 | 12:21PM
Slow wrote:
Bad laws should be changed not worshipped. Is "liberal" a naughty word in your house?
on January 20,2014 | 08:43AM
keikamaui wrote:
The statistics reflect a nation which has outlawed the use of marijuana, and we won't know the real carnage of the drug until the deaths begin to add up, contributed to its use. Obama is an idiot, and our children have this man as a role model? I'm so proud that our President smoked this illegal drug as a student in Hawaii. Jeesh.
on January 19,2014 | 01:10PM
Wahiawamauka wrote:
Nothing is more ignorant than smoking pot than the individual who believes it should be illegal.
on January 19,2014 | 01:46PM
hawaiikone wrote:
Maybe if you weren't a pothead your grammer would be better.
on January 19,2014 | 09:24PM
Wahiawamauka wrote:
Funny. I can correct the sentence but you can never correct yourself from being an A---HoLE
on January 20,2014 | 04:10AM
kainalu wrote:
Actually the ignorance belongs to those that haven't grasp the concept that pot is illegal strictly and solely for political reasons, and the greed associated with all things political. Millions of Americans are smoking pot. Enforcing the draconian "Marijuana Tax Act of 37" has cost trillions of tax dollars over the 8-decades since. Meanwhile, it's the cartels, the mob, and the street dealer that are realizing the profits.
on January 20,2014 | 06:46AM
HanabataDays wrote:
I smell change in the breeze. Funny, it smells like butta.
on January 19,2014 | 02:50PM
Maipono wrote:
Obama doesn't have anything to worry about, might as well jump right in on the pakalolo issue. It gives new meaning to the statement that "America is going to pot under the Dear Leader's rule!"
on January 19,2014 | 04:14PM
samidunn wrote:
He ought to know.
on January 19,2014 | 04:40PM
BlueDolphin53 wrote:
Obama also said this in that interview: “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?” Obama wondered. “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?” I'm not sure if he's saying we shouldn't legalize all drugs or he's saying we should as long as it's not any worse than booze.
on January 19,2014 | 05:51PM
sailfish1 wrote:
Smoking pot maybe once or twice to see what it feels like is one thing and can be written off as experimenting. Smoking pot on a regular basis to get high shows that person as a weak individual who needs a crutch to get through life. Smoking cigaettes and drinking alcohol is the same thing.
on January 20,2014 | 03:54AM
kolohepalu wrote:
Ha. Spoken like someone with a lot of self-righteousness and no perspective.
on January 20,2014 | 06:39AM
Slow wrote:
Is that right? Smoking marijuana is a sign of weak character? Probably right. Other sure fire signs of weak character: feeding pigeons in the park, eating white rice, drinking Coors Lite, voting for Rod Tam, using incorrect grammar (sorry, sailfish if that hurts)....
on January 20,2014 | 08:48AM
Sandybeach wrote:
POTUS on pot. Feds seem to be taking a States rights approach. Makes good sense. Regulate, control, tax. Never done pot or smoked cigarettes. Had a few drinks. Alcohol is regulated at the county level in this State. Something to look into.
on January 20,2014 | 06:00AM
Winston wrote:
On this single, isolated subject, I think that, due to the man's extensive experience with marijuana, we can trust his judgement on this one.
on January 20,2014 | 06:08AM
9ronboz wrote:
Only a dope head would know
on January 20,2014 | 06:37AM
Slow wrote:
A really big dum-dum you mean? Thank you for your valuable contribution. Take another hit and pass it to me.
on January 20,2014 | 08:50AM
Bdpapa wrote:
How'd that song go, " Don't hog that bogart my friend, pass it over to me".
on January 20,2014 | 10:05AM
Ezdeewilly wrote:
For once I agree with the president.
on January 20,2014 | 07:55AM
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