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Jan 20, 2014 09:55 AM EST

President Obama Speaks Out On The Contradiction Of Marijuana Policy, The NFL, And More In New Yorker Interview


Among a myriad of topics, President Obama discussed his views on marijuana in a lengthy interview published yesterday in the New Yorker, Forbes reported.

Obama's first point was that marijuana is less harmful than alcohol, a perspective with which over 80 percent of Americans  would agree, according to a CNN poll. Still, Forbes pointed out its status in "Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act," a categorization meant for drugs prone to heavy abuse and with no medicinal value. Many have argued and proposed to remove it from this list, but to no avail, despite a countrywide trend towards legalization. Thus, Obama's statements, while mostly obvious, were significant in that they opposed federal policy.

The president's second point for weed was to highlight the contradiction between the number of people who use marijuana and the number (and type) of people who get arrested for it. If even the lawyers, judges, police officers, Obama himself, etc. have been known to use the same substance they're prosecuting others for, the drug should be decriminalized, Obama argued.

"Middle class kids don't get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do," he said. "And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and support to avoid unduly harsh penalties." But, he said, "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." Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado that "it's important for it to go forward because it's important for society not to have a situation in which a larger portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished."

As per usual with the athletic-minded president, the conversation briefly turned to sports and the NFL. Of the decision to allow his children to play football, he took the careful stance of many parents, saying he would not permit them to play, but that he still watches and respect the NFL because "these guys, they know what they're doing. They know what they're buying into. It is no longer a secret. It's sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?" 

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