White House: Our Position on Marijuana 'Has Not Changed'

Wednesday, 22 Jan 2014 07:55 PM

By Cynthia Fagen

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The White House insists its position on marijuana as an illegal drug "has not changed" after President Barack Obama commented in a New Yorker magazine interview that pot is not any more dangerous than alcohol, The Hill reported Wednesday.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the president was talking "about the disparities in the prosecution of our drug laws . . . When it comes to marijuana use, he made clear he sees it as a bad habit and a vice."

Carney added that it was "important" that legalization efforts in some states "go forward" because it would prevent unfair penalties for some users of the drug. "There's no question that we've applied our drug laws in a way that has been counterproductive," he said, adding that Obama only meant to convey his concern over disproportionate arrests of and sentences for minorities possessing the drug.

In a candid interview published on Sunday, the president told the magazine, "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 National Drug Control Policy's official stance on marijuana is that it can cause permanent brain damage and carries more carcinogens than tobacco smoke.

Obama said he thought it was unfair that the government was "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."

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