In an recent interview with the New Yorker, President Obama acknowledged that he thinks marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol.
"As has been well documented,” the former Choomer in Chief said. “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."
Then, to his credit, Obama went on to make a compelling social justice argument for legalization, as recounted by interviewer David Remnick.
"Middle-class kids don't get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do," he said. "And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties." But, he said, "we should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing." Accordingly, he said of the legalization of marijuana in Colorado and Washington that "it's important for it to go forward because 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."
Although, while the President's move to evolve on the marijuana issue certainly helps the cause, it's still hard to stomach hearing him say cannabis is “not very different” from tobacco cigarettes. Because right off the top of my head, I can think of a major difference: One product kills 5 million people every year, and one is a life-saving medicine with no lethal dose.
In fact, cannabis is not only less harmful than alcohol and cigarettes, it's -- in most cases and moderate amounts -- actually good for you. Because the medicinal compounds found in the plant not only help treat the symptoms of illness, they can in many cases prevent and even reverse disease.
In Marijuana Gateway to Health: How Cannabis Protects Us from Cancer and Alzheimer's Disease author and researcher Clint Werner makes a compelling case that cannabis use constitutes what he terms “health-positive” behavior, a realization that pushed him to write the groundbreaking book in the first place, as explained in its introduction.
I wrote this book after learning of the growing number of scientific studies which reveal that cannabinoids, the unique compounds found in marijuana, have powerful anti-tumor activity and they guard the brain from the type of damage that results from toxicity, injury and aging. As more and more of these research reports were published in peer-reviewed journals, they were ignored by the mainstream media, treated as an amusing joke, or reported on sporadically without this important data being pulled together to make the logical assertion that using marijuana is good for human health.
Perhaps someone can hand President Obama a copy to read on his next cigarette break.