(CBS) – President Obama waded into the controversial politics of marijuana in an interview published Sunday, saying he’s not convinced pot is “more dangerous than alcohol” and arguing it’s “important” to allow recent legalization efforts in Colorado and Washington State to proceed.
“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,” the president told the New Yorker’s David Remnick. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
The president even argued marijuana is less dangerous “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.”
Still, “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,” he added.
The president also said he’s troubled by racial disparities in the application of marijuana laws.
“Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he explained. “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.”
Mr. Obama ascribed some element of hypocrisy to lawmakers who’ve stiffened penalties against pot use despite some probable experimentation of their own.
“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,” the president said.
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