America is no longer scared of pot, and it doesn't seem like Barack Obama is, either. In a long interview with David Remnick of The New Yorker, Obama said just about everything he should be saying about weed.
"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 Remnick, as pointed out by The Hill. "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol."
Bringing the conversation back to policy, he acknowledged that "middle-class kids don't get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do. And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties." This is a fact that long ago moved away from being a secret.
In talking about efforts to legalize pot in states like Colorado, Obama gave his blessing while grounding his support like an ex-law scholar might. "It's important for it to go forward because it's important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished," he told Remnick.
In acknowledging his own culpability and the hypocrisy of anti-marijuana legislators — "some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing" — Obama isn't trying to distance himself from the issue, but talk is only talk. These are the right notes to hit, but without tangible action the sentiment can't help but feel a bit stale considering Bill Clinton was calling for decriminalization as president in 2000.
Clinton's administration, though, had a history of doing the opposite. Obama has already erased a number of Clinton's sins — time will tell if weed will be another.