Obama's recent comments on marijuana legalization
"That President Obama could openly speculate about marijuana being less dangerous than alcohol — and embrace the state-level legalization of the drug — is a measure of just how far the nation has moved since the 1980s.
Back then, the Reagan administration's approach was absolute: "Just Say No." It's more complicated today. Obama's interview with the New Yorker's David Remnick gave a measure of validation to friends of legalization and served as a buzz kill to its foes. But even supporters of decriminalizing marijuana were careful not to claim that Obama's statement had altered the overall dynamics of the debate.
For one thing, Obama was characteristically cautious in how he framed the issue, to the point of ambivalence. While he said that marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol — an assertion in dispute — he also said he told his daughters that it was "a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy."
He seemed most concerned about the disproportionate impact marijuana arrests and convictions were having on minority young people. And he also worried about where to draw the line with other more dangerous drugs like cocaine or methamphetamine.
Obama, as a politician and leader of the Democratic Party, is also wary of intentionally putting his party at a political disadvantage, especially as the 2014 midterm and 2016 presidential elections come into view.
(Read full NPR article here.)
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