WASHINGTON (CBS DC/AP) — One Republican congressman warns that President Barack Obama’s recent comments about marijuana could contribute to more adolescents using the drug.
Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., made the comment during a House Oversight Committee Government Operations subpanel hearing about marijuana.
“Given the recent statements … the president may, in fact, be a major contributor now to some of the declines we see in the perception of risk,” Mica, chairman of the subpanel, said, according to CBS News. “We’re going from ‘Just say no,’ to ‘I didn’t inhale,’ now it’s ‘Just say maybe.’”
Obama recently said in an interview with The New Yorker magazine that pot is not 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 said.
Obama did, though urge a cautious approach to changing marijuana laws.
“[T]he experiment that’s going to be taking place in Colorado and Washington is going to be, I think, a challenge,” Obama said.
Michael Botticelli, deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, told the subpanel that the White House still opposed some states’ efforts to legalize marijuana.
“The Department of Justice’s responsibility to enforce the Controlled Substances Act remains unchanged,” Botticelli stated, according to CBS News.
Mica called Obama’s policy on marijuana “schizophrenic.”
“We have the most schizophrenic policy I have ever seen,” Mica stated.
Seventeen states have some form of marijuana decriminalization. Some, including New York, maintain criminal penalties for public smoking, while others allow police to arrest people who don’t produce identification when ticketed. Colorado and Washington state have gone further by legalizing the sale and possession of pot. Legalization advocates in the nation’s capital are trying to put the issue before voters in a ballot initiative this fall.
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