President Obama discussed the legalization of marijuana during an interview with VICE News, but lectured young people, suggesting that they should be more worried about other problems in the world.
VICE CEO Shane Smith noted during the interview that if Obama legalized marijuana it would be the “biggest part of your legacy.”
“Well first of all, it shouldn’t be young people’s biggest priority,” Obama said sternly. “Let’s put it in perspective. Young people, I understand this is important to you but you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace.”
“Maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana,” he said.
Smith published the interview with the president on the Vice Media website at 4:20 p.m.
Obama admitted that he was interested in “decriminalization” of the use of marijuana, pointing out that it had a terrible effect on communities of color by making people unemployable due to their criminal records.
Obama explained that he was encouraged by the “libertarian wing” of the Republican party and its support for decriminalization of non-violent offenders.
If enough states began decriminalizing marijuana, Obama added, perhaps Congress would be willing to act. But he cautioned that political leaders should be careful while exploring their options.
“But I always say to folks, you know, legalization or decriminalization is not a panacea,” he added.
Do you feel the same about meth, do we feel the same about coke, how about crack, how about heroin? And there is a legitimate, I think, concern about the overall effect this has on society and particularly vulnerable parts of our society,” he said. “Substance abuse generally – legal and illegal substances – is a problem. Locking someone up for twenty years is probably not the best strategy and that is something we have to rethink as a society as a whole.