President Obama's recent comments about marijuana in a New York Magazine interview with David Remnick could be the catalyst to more states legalizing pot.
“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” Obama told The New Yorker’s David Remnick. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”
According to the Statesman, Democratic lawmakers plan to introduce a legislative referral next month that would ask voters whether they want recreational marijuana legalized. Similar efforts are under way in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine.
The president's views "will influence people throughout the country,” Donald Moorse, a Portland, Ore., medical marijuana dispensary owner, told the paper. “I think that’s why he made the comments.”
Although his comments swayed more toward the point that pot is safer than alcohol in terms of its impact on individuals, he did mention, “it’s not something I encourage,” Obama said, “and I’ve told my daughters I think it’s a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”
But another important point made in that interview was the fact that many pot smokers are sitting in our jails. When Obama 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.”
Other states are about to take the plunge, putting the vote on their ballots, since the first legal pot stores opened in Colorado, 20 days ago.
So far, only Colorado and Washington state have legalized marijuana for recreational use, while 18 other states permit medical marijuana.
Alaska is on its way to legalizing pot for recreational purposes in addition to Colorado and Washington.
Pro-recreational marijuana Initiatives are expected in various states in 2016, including Arizona, California, Maine, Massachusetts, Montana and Nevada, according to Mason Tvert of the Marijuana Policy Project.
And the New York governor has announced plans for medical marijuana at hospitals.
It appears that it is only a matter of time before the others realize it's a win-win situation.
What matters now, said Federal Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau, is ending a marijuana prohibition policy that costs law enforcement $500 million a year and has left 475,000 people with criminal records since the Conservatives took office in 2006.
"The fact of the matter is our current approach on marijuana -- the prohibition that Stephen Harper continues to defend -- is failing in two primary ways. The first one is it is not protecting our kids from the negative impacts of marijuana on the developing brain," said Trudeau.
"Secondly, we are funnelling millions upon millions of dollars each year into organized crime and criminal gangs. We do not need to be funding those organizations."
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