Barack Obama says marijuana should be treated like ‘cigarettes or alcohol’
In exit interview, US President says drug should be treated as public-health issue
Find your bookmarks in your Independent Premium section, under my profile
In an “exit interview” with Rolling Stone magazine, President Obama said that marijuana use should be treated as a public-health issue similar to tobacco or alcohol and called the current patchwork of state and federal laws regarding the drug “untenable.”
“Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse,” Mr Obama said. “And I am not somebody who believes that legalization is a panacea. But I do believe that treating this as a public-health issue, the same way we do with cigarettes or alcohol, is the much smarter way to deal with it.”
Mr Obama has made comments to this effect before. In a 2014 interview with the New Yorker magazine he said that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.” More recently, he told TV host Bill Maher, “I think we’re going to have to have a more serious conversation about how we are treating marijuana and our drug laws generally.”
In the Rolling Stone interview published this week, Mr Obama also reiterated his long-standing position that changing federal marijuana laws is not something the president can do unilaterally. “Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict,” he said, “but are done either legislatively or through the DEA. As you might imagine, the DEA, whose job it is historically to enforce drug laws, is not always going to be on the cutting edge about these issues.”
The Drug Enforcement Administration recently turned down a petition to lessen federal restrictions on marijuana, citing the drug’s lack of “accepted medical use” and its “high potential for abuse.” Congress could resolve the conflict between state and federal marijuana laws by amending the federal Controlled Substances Act, but it has declined to do so.
Marijuana legalization advocates have been frustrated at what they see as Mr Obama’s unwillingness to use his bully pulpit to advocate for their cause. “It would have been very helpful if he had taken more concrete positive action on this issue before it was almost time to vacate the Oval Office,” Tom Angell of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority said in a statement. “That this president didn’t apply pressure on the DEA to reschedule marijuana this year will likely go down as one of the biggest disappointments of the Obama era.”
There is little disagreement on either side of the legalization debate that personal marijuana use should be treated primarily as a public-health issue. Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), the nation’s leading anti-legalization group, says that it “seeks to establish a rational policy” for marijuana use and possession that “no longer relies only on the criminal justice system to address people whose only crime is smoking or possessing a small amount of marijuana.”
But there is vehement disagreement over what such a “rational policy” would look like. SAM advocates for a policy of decriminalization of marijuana use, but not full-scale commercial legalization. Groups like the Marijuana Policy Project, on the other hand, are pushing for the creation of Colorado-style commercial marketplaces where it is completely legal to buy, sell and consume marijuana.
Mr Obama has been hesitant throughout his second term to push for one approach or the other. His Justice Department has created a policy explicitly allowing states to legalize marijuana as they see fit, but he has made no effort to alter the strict federal prohibition on marijuana that complicates any effort to create a legal nationwide marijuana industry.
Pro-legalization advocates are worried that the current Justice Department policy of noninterference on marijuana legalization could be reversed by an incoming Trump administration stocked with harsh critics of such legalization. Donald Trump himself has said that the matter should be left up to the states.
In the Rolling Stone interview, Mr Obama hinted that he may be more vocal on the issue once he leaves office. “I will have the opportunity as a private citizen to describe where I think we need to go” on marijuana, he said.
In exit interview, US President says drug should be treated as public-health issue
New Book Claims Obama Is Smoking Weed Again… Is It True?
Former President Barack Obama has always seemed like a pretty cool guy.
Between his dad-jokes, down-to-earth style and, of course, the fact that he’s admitted to smoking weed in his hey-day, Obama has always been a relatable political figure to the common man. And according to one prominent author, Obama could now be even more relatable, as sources say the former commander-in-chief could be back to toking up, now that his days as POTUS are finished.
Is Obama Smoking Weed?
Obama first admitted he used to puff in his 1995 memoir Dreams From My Father, where he explicitly described several instances in his youth in which he dabbled with the green stuff.
In the memoir, Obama talked about smoking “in a white classmate’s sparkling new van,” “in the dorm room of some brother” and “on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids.”
While Obama took a sabbatical from his cannabis-use during his political tenure, it appears that the ex-President could potentially be back to his old ways.
Author Ed Klein detailed in his new book All Out War: The Plot to Destroy Trump, that, per a close friend of Obama, the former commander-in-chief has refused to lead a “resistance” against the Trump party, and instead chooses to spend his time “playing video games, chatting on the phone with celebrity pals, smoking marijuana and popping cannabis-infused gummy bears.”
“Barack sees himself as sort of a hipster ex-president, a cool guy,” said the friend. “He wants to go back in terms of fashion and style to his pot-smoking days as a member of the Choom Gang at the Punahou School in Hawaii.”
Per the friend, Obama stopped smoking weed as president, because he believed it somewhat hindered his judgment. However, now that he’s not the primary decision-maker of the United States, coupled with the fact that it’s legal in the District of Columbia, there’s not much stopping Obama from smoking up on a somewhat regular basis.
“He gets the weed from friends who visit him,” the friend added. “I was told he keeps a small stash in his bedroom. He has rolling papers and hasn’t forgotten how to roll a joint. Sometimes he’ll smoke in his bedroom, and sometimes in the backyard. But mostly he does it when he’s traveling.”
According to the friend, Obama has now made the switch to edibles, due to the smell around his house, which is located just a few residences down from his former stomping grounds—the White House.
“At one point, he became so concerned about people smelling pot around Kalorama that he asked friends to get him some edible stuff,” the friend said. “They got him brownies, cookies, and gummy bears infused with THC.”
Final Hit: New Book Claims Obama Is Smoking Weed Again… Is It True?
While the evidence does appear substantial, it’s tough to determine whether or not the information is of pure fact.
While Klein is a somewhat reputable source of information, having been the former editor-in-chief of the New York Times and the foreign editor of Newsweek, he has also met scrutiny regarding the credibility of his sources.
His 2005 biography about Hillary Clinton, The Truth About Hillary, came under fire for being factually incorrect. The prominent political publication Politico described the book as having “serious factual errors, truncated and distorted quotes and overall themes [that] don’t jibe with any other serious accounts of Clinton’s life.”
Additionally, Klein has been scrutinized for his extensive use of anonymous quotes and sources, much like he used in the Obama excerpt. Many have questioned the credibility of such sources, considering there’s no real way of fact-checking an anonymous reference.
While it’s certainly fun to think about our former president blazing on the regular, one can only take this report with a grain of salt, until further evidence is made available.
Could the former POTUS be up to his old ways?