President Obama Says The Federal Government Should Treat Marijuana Like Alcohol Or Cigarettes

“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.”

November 30, 2016
President Obama Says The Federal Government Should Treat Marijuana Like Alcohol Or Cigarettes Pool / Getty Images

The day after the American people elected Donald Trump as the next president of the United States, Barack Obama spoke to Rolling Stone about a wide range of topics, including his advice to the president-elect, the moments he will miss most about his time in the White House, and his opinions on marijuana legalization.

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Obama, the only president to actually admit to smoking weed, said that he thinks marijuana use should be treated as a "public health issue," rather than a criminal act. "Look, I’ve been very clear about my belief that we should try to discourage substance abuse," he told Rolling Stone, in response to a question about the failures of the War on Drugs. "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."

He went on to say that he's "very much in lame-duck status" as president and doesn't have the power to change federal drug policy anyway. "Typically how these classifications are changed are not done by presidential edict but are done either legislatively or through the DEA," he said. "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...it is untenable over the long term for the Justice Department or the DEA to be enforcing a patchwork of laws, where something that's legal in one state could get you a 20-year prison sentence in another."

Read President Obama's full interview with Rolling Stone here.

President Obama Says The Federal Government Should Treat Marijuana Like Alcohol Or Cigarettes