President Obama talks legalization in an interview with The New Yorker where he owns his earlier marijuana use. The president was very candid and open about his views on cannabis. Sharing that he “smoked a lot as a youth, and even into adulthood.” He said, he also smoked cigarettes, and views both as bad habits that he has since stopped. The president notes, that he has talked with his children about marijuana and let them know that using it is a waste of time and unhealthy.
He expressed concern over the current cannabis hot topic, that legalizes marijuana in Colorado and Washington. The president believes it may open doors for harder drugs to be distributed freely. He stated, that he sees this as more problematic than marijuana stressing, “that cigarettes and addiction to alcohol do more harm than cannabis.”
As President Obama talks legalization, he owns up to his earlier use of marijuana. He takes issue with current laws which penalizes marijuana use for individual consumption and prosecutes offenders under current laws, reserved for meting out harsh prison sentences for those found guilty of involvement with illegal drug trade. He suggests, this type of justice disproportionately imprisons minorities.
There exists a double standard as observed by the large number of minority youth on lock-down across the country for drug offenses. Like their older counterparts, younger blacks and Latinos, are more severely penalized than middle class and affluent youth. This directly contributes to the school-to-prison pipeline set up in inner-cities to derail youth of color from breaking the cycles of poverty and becoming productive citizens.
This is the lens used by many who have questioned unjust drug laws that continue the practice of locking away minorities for long periods of time over small amounts of marijuana, while those responsible for running the drug game are rarely penalized,while concurrently amassing fortunes.
In America, publicly elected officials, have used harder drugs while serving out terms and been re-elected. The US can’t exist with double standards that excuse certain parties (those with political and money connections) to a different set of rules and standards.
There is merit in President Obama noting that people in prominent positions have smoked marijuana. How is marijuana use acceptable for some while being punishable by law for others?
Smoking marijuana for medicinal and or recreational purposes is a personal choice. No different from the choice to drink alcohol or smoke tobacco. Proponents of marijuana used for medicinal purposes stand in agreement with documented studies that tout the benefits of marijuana to those suffering from chronic illness, in providing a better quality of life. The legalization of marijuana will give law enforcement and the justice system more time to work on any number of issues that plaque the US.
The debate over cannabis has reached a turning point, and regardless of which side citizens take, the issue is now primed for addressing. President Obama owns his earlier marijuana use and legalization talks are on the table.
By C. Imani Williams