In another inch forward for Barack Obama’s stance on marijuana, the U.S. president revealed in a new interview that he finds the drug no more dangerous than alcohol.
“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. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol,” Obama told The New Yorker’s David Remnick.
However, Obama clarified his comments, discussing both the societal impact of marijuana arrests, as well as the legal implications for comparing various drugs and legalizations.
“If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, ‘Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka,’ are we open to that? If somebody says, ‘We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth,’ are we OK with that?” he said.
The comparison between marijuana and other recreational substances such as cigarettes and alcohol is not a new one, with various studies comparing the health impacts of each. A 2011 study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology suggested that alcohol was twice as harmful to users and five times as harmful to others.
Obama’s statement comes just a few months after Gallup reported that Americans favored legalizing marijuana for the first time.
In October, Gallup released a study showing Americans had begun to favor the legalization of marijuana.
While Obama stopped short of supporting the legalization of marijuana, his slow pivot on the issue is similar to his eventual support of gay marriage.
Obama previously opposed the legalization of gay marriage, but changed his stance about a year after public support turned on the issue.