Just days after failing to address cannabis reform in his State of the Union, President Barack Obama said more states are likely to legalize marijuana. The statement, made today as part of the live YouTube Interview with President Obama, came following a question from a viewer concerning moving forward from marijuana’s “legal gray area weirdness.”
“What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana,” the President said. “The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue. My suspicion is that you’re gonna see other states start looking at this.”
The question, posed by YouTube user Hank Green of the VlogBrothers, was set up with Green stating he doesn’t smoke marijuana, but supports legalization as the federal government’s stance on cannabis has lead to “excessive incarceration especially among minorities.”
“What I am doing at the federal level is asking my Department of Justice just to examine generally how we are treating nonviolent drug offenders, because I think you’re right,” the President responded.
“What we have done is instead of focusing on treatment — the same way we focused, say, with tobacco or drunk driving or other problems where we treat it as public health problem — we’ve treated this exclusively as a criminal problem,” Obama said. “I think that it’s been counterproductive, and it’s been devastating in a lot of minority communities. It presents the possibility at least of unequal application of the law and that has to be changed.”
Tell us what you think of the President’s comments below.