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Barack Obama: ‘Marijuana no more dangerous than alcohol’

20 January 2014

US President Barack Obama has said smoking marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, but still called it a “bad idea”.

Speaking to The New Yorker magazine, he said it was wrong to think legalising the drug would be “a panacea” that could solve many social problems.

Mr Obama was referring to recent legalisation of marijuana in the states of Colorado and Washington.

He has previously admitted using the drug when he was young.

“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,” Mr Obama said.

But he added that in terms of its impact on the individual consumer “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol”.

He also said that poor people – many of them African Americans and Latinos – were disproportionately punished for marijuana use, whereas middle-class users mostly escaped harsh penalties.

“It’s important for society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

Mr Obama described the legalisation of marijuana in Colorado and Washington as a challenging “experiment”.

Colorado’s law went into effect on 1 January, while Washington is expected to allow the drug’s sale later this year.

US President Barack Obama says smoking marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, but still calls it a "bad idea".

Malia Obama may have smoked marijuana — what’s the big deal?

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Malia Obama smoked what looked like a joint and it has set the Internet ablaze.

The First Daughter’s alleged toke happened at the Lollapalooza music festival in Chicago, which fell at the same time as the Democratic National Convention. But it lit up Twitter last night after Radar Online published a photo of it.

It prompted a collective cry to “leave Malia Obama alone.”

“I don’t care if Malia Obama is smoking cigarettes, or smoking pot. I don’t care if she’s licking toads, for God’s sake. Let her be a teen,” one guy wrote on Twitter.

Others pointed out the 18-year-old, who graduated from a prestigious high school in June, has been accepted to Harvard (which she’ll attend in 2017 after a gap year).

“Y’all smoking weed and can’t even pass your global history regents. Leave that girl alone.”

So apparently, Malia Obama was caught smoking pot. Yassss girl 🙌🏾 & she’s going to Harvard. Get you a Malia that can do both. ✨

Malia Obama smoked weed, but she’s going to HARVARD…Her daddy smoked weed and is the president. You mad? Stay mad. pic.twitter.com/yECWHbhBFb

Of course, some critics used this as an opportunity to put her famous father down. One Republican politician and Donald Trump supporter went so far as to question President Barack Obama’s ability to “vet” Syrian refugees because of this incident.

Others bashed her clothing choices at the music festival and her “provocative” dancing which they called twerking.

It’s not supposed to be funny but this graf on Malia Obama, good lord. When did your mom start working for Radar? pic.twitter.com/m7QOTfLiCo

One said this meant she had “no respect” for her father, who’s probably had a little chat with his daughter by now.

So you caught your kid smoking marijuana…

For other parents who find themselves in President Obama’s shoes, and see (or smell) evidence of their child’s marijuana-use, think before you react.

Instead of going in with guns blazing, Joanna Seidel, a Toronto-based family and child therapist, suggests an ‘internal conversation with yourself” to figure out the root of your concerns. Is there a history of substance abuse in your family? Are you worried about long-term addiction? Or them driving while high?

Express those concerns “clearly, calmly and rationally” to your child.

“You have to be very specific.”

Age is also a factor. Seidel said it’s totally different if you’re dealing with 13-year-old who may have exercised “poor judgment,” or a 17-year-old who could have “thought it through and wanted to try it.”

Being less judgy of other parents is also a plus.

If some parents let their kids smoke marijuana it doesn’t mean they’re bad parents, Seidel said.

Hopefully the President won’t be too hard on her. After all, he’s admitted to smoking weed himself.

He’s also said he doesn’t think it’s more dangerous than drinking.

For the record…

New research this summer actually found being under the influence of alcohol is more likely to increase the chances of unsafe sexual behaviour than being high.

Side note: stoned sex was also more likely to be described as better.

“The study found that both men and women reported longer and more intense orgasms on marijuana, with one woman reporting hers were ‘magnified at least by five times,” the Washington Post reported.

Honestly, I’m just relieved that Malia Obama doesn’t vape.

As for the legality of Obama’s suspected toke, small amounts of marijuana have recently been decriminalized in the state of Illinois, where the festival took place.

While she’s not the first — and likely won’t be the last — child of a President to be heavily scrutinize by the media, we have a feeling she’ll be just fine.

First Lady Michelle Obama has said her eldest daughter wants to be a filmmaker.

She’s interned on the set of HBO’s Girls and on Halle Berry’s now-cancelled TV sci-fi drama Extant, which aired on Global in Canada. She’s also had internships at the Smithsonian’s National Zoo in Washington.

Her 15-year-old sister Sasha, meanwhile, has a summer job at a seafood restaurant.

Barack Obama's eldest daughter Malia set the Internet ablaze after a photo surfaced of her with what looks like a joint. A psychologist weighs in.