THE BLOG

Obama Says Legalizing Marijuana Is Not a Panacea, "Do We Feel the Same Way About Crack?"

03/17/2015 04:57 pm ET | Updated May 17, 2015

Today, in an interview with Vice News, President Obama was given a softball question about legalization that he easily could have taken. I'm happy he didn't take the bait. In fact, he made some of his most lengthy comments to date about substance abuse, particularly legalization.

President Obama stopped short of endorsing legalization, and said that substance abuse is a problem. While he did emphasize the need to get rid of lengthy sentences for non-violent drug offenses, he did not endorse legalization, and instead told young people to start thinking more about non-marijuana issues.

He also said legalization would never be a panacea.

The whole interview can be found here, and below are some of the more poignant parts of the discussion:

President Obama:

"First of all," the issue of marijuana "shouldn't be young people's biggest priority....but you should be thinking about climate change, jobs, war and peace..."

"I'd separate out the issue of the criminalization of marijuana from encouraging its use...I think there is a legitimate concern about the overall effects this has on society, particularly vulnerable parts of our society. Substance abuse generally, legal and illegal substances, is a problem."

"We may be able to make progress on the decriminalization side...But I always say to folks, legalization...is not a panacea. Do we feel the same way about meth? Do we feel the same way about coke? How about crack? How about heroin? There is a legitimate concern about the overall effects this has on society, particularly vulnerable parts of society. Substance abuse generally, legal and illegal substances, is a problem."