President Barack Obama believes pot should be regulated like cigarettes and alcohol. In an interview with culture magazine Rolling Stone, the sitting President called regulating marijuana smarter than categorizing it as a Schedule I drug.
More than 30 states have legalized at least medical marijuana, and the District of Columbia. Some cities have laissez faire policies as well, such as in Chicago and New York, where people can possess small amounts of marijuana. Tickets are still issued for possession.
Marijuana laws have been amended en masse since 2013. 15 states have changed their laws by increasing how much can possess before it’s a crime.
“It is untenable over the long term for the Justice Department or the DEA [Drug Enforcement Agency] to be enforcing a patchwork of laws, where something that’s legal in one state could get you a 20-year prison sentence in another,” Obama said.
Obama advised letting the changes be made at the state level so that public sentiment can properly be measured.
“The point is that politics in a big, diverse country like this requires us to move the ball forward not in one long Hail Mary to the end zone, but to, you know, systemically make progress,” Obama said.
Although marijuana regulation is popular in the US – Pew Research Center poll released last month indicates 57 percent of U.S. adults support legalization – few believe that either President Obama nor President-elect Donald Trump will change the current paradigm.