President Barack Obama
believes smoking marijuana is a "bad habit" but thinks legal
penalties now fall disproportionately on minorities and that states legalising
pot should go ahead with their plans, he said in a profile released on Sunday.
"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," he is quoted as saying in a New Yorker
magazine article. "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol."
The president said he has
told his daughters smoking marijuana is "a bad idea, a waste of time, not
However, he said he is
concerned that marijuana-related arrests fall far more heavily on minorities
than on others. Legalisation of pot should go forward in the states of Colorado
and Washington 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," he said.Remains illegal under federal law
Marijuana remains illegal
in the United States under federal law, but 21 US states allow or are about to
allow medical marijuana use, and Colorado and Washington have decriminalised
use of pot entirely. Alaska and the District of Columbia are considering
The Obama administration
said last year that federal law enforcement will not target users in Colorado
and Washington, as long as they comply with their respective states' laws.
The Department of Justice
says it will not interfere with states' efforts to regulate and tax marijuana
provided they are able to meet a set of requirements, including keeping it from
children and restricting its flow into other states.
'Overstating the case'
The president also said he
believes that those who argue that legalising marijuana will solve a number of
social problems "are probably overstating the case". Legalisation in
Colorado and Washington will likely be a challenge, he said.
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