Obama to Young People: Climate Change More Important than Marijuana

‘Legalization is not a panacea ... do you feel the same way about meth? About coke?’

OBAMA: "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. I’d separate out the issue of the criminalization of marijuana from encouraging its use.

I think there is no doubt that our criminal justice system in general is so heavily skewed toward cracking down on non-violent drug offenders that it has not just had a terrible on effect on many communities — particularly communities of color, rendering a lot of folks unemployable because they got a felony record, disproportionate prison sentences. It costs a huge amount of money to the states and a lot of states are starting to figure that out.

But what I am encouraged by is you’re starting to see not just liberal Democrats but some very conservative Republicans recognize this doesn’t make sense, including sort of the libertarian wing of a Republican party ...

Legalization or decriminalization is not a panacea. Do we feel the same way about the meth? Do we feel the same way about coke? How about crack? How about heroine? And there is a legitimate concern about the overall effect this has on a society and particularly vulnerable parts of our society. Substance abuse generally, legal and illegal substances is a problem. Locking somebody up for 20 years is probably not the best strategy and that's something that we have to rethink as a society as a whole."

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