In one of his most lengthy conversations to date about the legalization of marijuana, President Obama admitted that the states of Colorado and Washington are an interesting experiment in the social consequences of legalizing the drug.
During a town hall in Jamaica, President Obama was asked by one young person what he thought about legalizing marijuana and hemp.
The young man asserted that the legalization of such products would help people in poor economies out of poverty. In responce, Obama grinned. “How did I guess this question?” he reacted with mock surprise.
“I have to tell you it’s not a silver bullet,” Obama explained. “If you are legalizing marijuana how do you deal with other drugs and where do you draw the line?”
Obama explained that states that recently legalized marijuana, such as Colorado and Washington, would serve as an interesting testing ground for the social consequences of legalizing the drug.
“We will see how that experiment works its way though the process,” Obama said, cautioning that legal marijuana was not federal policy, and that he didn’t see Congress changing national laws on marijuana anytime soon.
“I do think that if there are states that show that they are not suddenly a magnet for additional crime, that they have a strong enough public health infrastructure to push against the potential of increased addiction, then its conceivable that it will spur on a national debate,” he said.
Obama also cautioned third world countries who were interested in gaining revenue from legalized marijuana, reminding them that their small businesses would be overrun by bigger corporations.
“If you have a bunch of small medium sized marijuana businesses, scattered across the Caribbean, and this is suddenly legal, if you think that big multi-national companies are not suddenly come in and market and try to control and profit from the trade, you know that’s a very real scenario,” he said.
Later in the event, Obama pointed to the illegal drug trade as the cause of violence in many communities.
“If you have an illicit trade that generates huge amounts of money, and is not regulated, above board, that is going to attract ultimately people trying to carve out turf, trying to control markets and violence ensues,” he said.