March 26th, 2009
04:12 PM ET
6 years ago

Obama: Marijuana is not a good strategy to spur economy

(CNN) - In a statement that's sure to disappoint many of those who submitted questions to President Obama's virtual town hall meeting, the president made clear Thursday he does not support legalizing marijuana as a means to spur economic growth.

"I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high, and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation," Obama said off-handedly at the town hall. "I don't know what that says about the online audience."

"The answer is no, I do not think that is a good strategy to grow our economy," Obama said to laughter from the town hall participants.

Some of the most popular questions submitted to WhiteHouse.gov in several policy areas were pot-related. Among the top questions was one sent in by a user named "Green Machine":

"Will you consider decriminalizing the recreational/medical use of marijuana(hemp) so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and a multi-billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?"

Attorney General Eric Holder said last week federal agents will seek criminal charges against marijuana users only when both state and U.S. laws are violated, a shift from the Bush administration's policy. The decision would effectively end raids on registered medical marijuana providers in the handful of states that have moved to legalize the drug's use for medicinal purposes.\


Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (279 Responses)
  1. Rick

    I don't get it. What's the funny part? Spending billions on enforcement of an unwinnable war? Oh yeah, that is funny

    March 26, 2009 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  2. jean

    I was very surprised that Obama treated the marijuana issue so lightly. I, as well as a lot of people are very serious about this issue. I am a 40-something mom and soon to be grandmother that believes it's time to legalize pot.I am addicted to vicodin that I have gotten from my doctor for over two years,but I guess that's ok,even though that is a huge problem with a lot of people.It has never been a problem with me or my husband keeping a job.I resent the talk that pot smokers don't work or anything else. C'mon,most of America feels the time is right for this to happen! I guess change doesn't happen overnight,but I hope that I live to see it!

    March 26, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  3. Josh S.

    This antiquated ideology that pot is bad for society needs to go. Sure pot can make you lethargic, but so does Benadryl. What it doesn't do is make you reckless, belligerent, or dangerous– be it in person or behind the wheel of a car. It IS a multi-billion dollar industry that the government is missing out on.

    I agree, it's too soon for this and the country isn't ready for it, but eventually as our country turns wiser and older, pot will be legalized. It's non-cancer causing, non-addictive, and is an effective treatment for a laundry list of ailments and diseases. Compare that to our favorite legal vices– cigarettes and alcohol, which combined result in hundreds of thousands of deaths each year.

    Just one perspective from a pot-smoking, contributing (that means working, Peter E) member of society. And Sharon LV– c'mon– comments like that are way more detrimental to society than pot will ever be.

    March 26, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  4. Andrew

    As the previous comments indicate, ignorance abounds on this subject. However, this is a legitimate issue, and one President Obama should take seriously. The United States wastes billions of dollars every year trying to enforce antiquated drug policies and loses billions more in potential tax revenue in the process. History has demonstrated time and time again that regulation is a much more effective strategy than prohibition. Legalizing marijuana would cripple the violent drug cartels in Mexico and eradicate a dangerous and socially destructive black market in America. The list of reasons goes on and on. Everyone in America who wants to smoke weed does. It's about time the government acknowledges that reality and fixes the system.

    March 26, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  5. jo

    The number of people using pot is astonishing. You are working with people who do it. They are computer programmers, mechanics, teachers, etc... the list goes on and on.

    The only people who benefit from keeping it illegal are drug lords and drug dealers. They depend on the illicit income they get from selling pot.

    Here's something else to think about: How many violent offenders are walking free right now because the jails are full of pot users?

    March 26, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  6. bertakomos

    he should consider making marijuana legal to spur job growth. Even GOOGLE is laying off people. Just announced it today. Wow. The u.s. needs all the help it can get.

    March 26, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  7. Timothy Lockleaf

    I was a huge Obama supporter during the presidential race, but this speaking out against pot is the final straw for me. If any of you half-wits realized that cigarettes and alcohol are terribly more detrimental to peoples' lives than marijuana is, you'd realize it's a terrific solution not only to our economy, but to stopping Mexico's drug war dead in its tracks. This is coming from an extremely left-wing Democrat. I HOPE OBAMA FAILS! The one good solution to arise among the lard-based morons of this country, and everyone shuts it down. Typical.

    March 26, 2009 04:02 pm at 4:02 pm |
  8. J Boyd

    I just rreally think that all people who decided to discuss the marijuana issue was really trying to get the President to say something really stupid. That way all of the people who want to see him fell at all cost will have something else to grip about. Now matter what he has done for the last 64-65 day in office so, many people are trying to find fault with it. I'm glad he spoke the TRUTH on this issue and I feel he spoke from his heart. When is this Nation go to realize that we finally has some INTELLIGENCE in the WHITE HOUSE.

    March 26, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  9. cLint

    i totally support legalization of marijuana it will stimulate the economy obamas an idiot when it comes to this topic unbelievable

    March 26, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  10. POTHead

    Legalize pot and see the many benefits. Less violence, more control, tax revenue – less national debt, happier/healthier people – a whole new perspective. Sure have some governing laws – but make it like alcohol or ciggaretts. You do not see people dying or killing people for just smoking pot. Maybe combined with another substance. It would do some much for our ecconomy and government. It has done just that for the state of California. Wake up people!

    March 26, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  11. To bad

    To bad we can't get past the stigma of marijuana. It is not just a drug. Hemp can be used for many things including clothes (it is stronger and more long lasting than cotton with less environmental impact), food, alternative fuel (hemp seed oil), and paper (saving trees). People really need to do a little more research on this subject. The draconian laws we have now rate hemp the same as heroin. Lets stop wasting tax payers dollars on a drug war that is not working and makes us less safe. It also clogs our penitentiary system with nonviolent criminals. Lets start creating jobs in a new and potentially huge green industry. Educate yourselves and stop listening to the propaganda that has been put out by the government since prohibition.

    March 26, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  12. Matt

    Obama, maybe it says "this is what we're thinking and hope that you'd address without a flippant remark".

    March 26, 2009 04:03 pm at 4:03 pm |
  13. jim

    Oh yah ! That's smart ! 2 suggest fixing a problem with a problem.

    March 26, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  14. Matt: Honestly

    Florence: Marijuana is not a physically addictive drug. So people could not get hooked on it. Unlike nicotine and alcohol there are no physical withdraw simptoms with marijuana use.

    March 26, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  15. John K

    To that say put down the pot and get up and get a job to help stimulate the economy, you have no idea what your talking about. The only people that spend money on marijuana are the end user, the small guy. Everyone else profits from it and then they take that money and more then likely spend it. Which helps stimulate the economy in its own right, but instead the of being able to tax that money the federal government never sees the money, only states with sales tax. Also what about the billions of dollar SPENT on trying to enforce the laws around it? That money could be spent elsewhere or on cocaine or herion raids. The legal and illegal marijuana business is probably a multi billion dollar industry just in the US. If that flow of cash was to leave in the snap of a finger, i believe the economy would fall apart. Legal or not legal, it already provides people with jobs and spending money.

    March 26, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  16. Dskgolferxtrem

    Well If it ranked high on the chart then I guess it must be valid. How many more people do you need to realize that this is what America wants. Not that all Americans want it but there is enough to make it a reality. The people that don't want it really need to sit down and shut up because they wouldn't like it if we took some of their freedom away. This is not about drugs anymore it is about personal freedom that this country was founded on and now takes away. Yet it brags that this is the land of the free. I say that is bullpuckey. I don't feel free, And never will. I live in fear. Example.. My daughters dance instructors son fell and broke his leg. They rushed him to the hospital and low and behold DSS was right there to investigate to see if they needed to remove the child from his family. Tell you what, come and try to take my kids away and you will end up dead. Since when is it really anyone else's business what go's on in my house. Tell me where our freedoms went. Please tell me. You have your alcohol and your tobacco so give us our freedom. This country is a big lie and the recession we are in proves that this country was a lie. Nothing but Crooks riddle our past and ruined the average working mans life. The crooks are in the government and are so well hidden that it can not be proven (Cheyney and the secret energy meeting. Then gas prices go up to 4 dollars a gallon and now bush is out of office it is back down to about 2 dollars. come on now, you think we are all stupid. We the people just can't do anything about it).This stinks of corruption and has stunk of corruption of some sort or another for the past 100 years. Our forefathers are turning in their graves as we speak saying this is not how it is suppose to be. Up yours Dupont I hope you go broke and die.

    March 26, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  17. Kevin

    obama just proved that he is ignorant. over 60-70% of the cartel's money is estimated to come from marijuana and is used to keep them stable, since the demand for marijuana is mainly constant. Americans and some politicians are beginning to acknowledge the fact that it is the best alternative to decreasing the amount of cash flow to mexico. The cash-flow to mexico is mainly marijuana money, not guns, like this administration would like you to believe so they could possibly push their agenda for tougher gun laws. Legalize marijuana, stop joking around about the most popular question in your poll and giving it less than 5% of your time than lesser popular questions. The time you spent on the most popular question is inversely related to the time spent on it. How stupid are you obama? However this analogy isn't true for all the other questions which were also highly voted on. This among other reasons will be the reason america will be saying "Obamamos" in 2012

    March 26, 2009 04:04 pm at 4:04 pm |
  18. bertakomos

    I got news for you Peter E– like half the engineers at Google are probably high right now. Everyone uses marijuana.. it's not just what you believe are the "loser" types. EVERYONE uses it from doctors to lawyers - and they're doing just fine. Smoking that is way better than drinking for sure. I'd prefer to have a pot user handling my tax taxes than a hungover drunk.

    March 26, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  19. Sponczko

    Why not legalize marijuana? Come to think of it alcohal & cigarettes are legal and they are less healthier rightand there is a hefty tax on smokes ...so why not?

    March 26, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  20. S.M

    It makes you wonder what kind of brain some people are functioning on. Apprently, not much.

    Drug minded individuals!

    March 26, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  21. John

    Personally I feel that the Obama administration has responded to the marijuana issue appropriately. I don't for see the decriminalization of marijuana happening anytime in the near future, however the blind eye that the government is showing towards states that allow medical marijuana is a step in the right direction. Looking at marijuana from a strictly scientific perspective it is very clear that the long term effects of pot are minimal when compared to a legal drug like alcohol.

    If the administration were to legalize pot I do think that despite the versatility of the marijuana plant, it would deter home growers because of the cheap, high quality, pot that the government would offer.

    While I'm not an advocate for lowering drug awareness and enforcement. I do think that this issue is an important one that people have wrestled with for a long time and I'm glad that the administration is, at the very least, listening to our voices.

    March 26, 2009 04:05 pm at 4:05 pm |
  22. J Fine

    Extremely disappointing answer from a president I respect greatly. The prohibition of marijuana is a joke, and the ban on hemp cultivation even more so.

    March 26, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  23. Steve M

    Hey Peter, has it ever occured to you that many computer geeks are actually working? Has it ever occured to you that much of the code for games that are created for Nintendo, Playstation, or X-Box was done while stoned?

    Marijuana has been demonized for far too long. If you want to demonize something, lets go after alcohol. Now there is something that will mess you up.

    March 26, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  24. dustin

    well i'm disappointed, not only could we release thousands of people with non violent drug convictions and save money on our prison system, allow police to actually go after dangerous people, and unburden some of the court system, and cut down on boarder violence, it would also be a multi billion dollar economic stimulus without having to use tax payer money and it would create so many jobs........maybe one day, and to those who say because of depression over lack of jobs, or abuse of the drug as a reason not to legalize it, well maybe they should be out in front to advocate for the abolition of cigs and alcohol which have way higher abuse rates, more addictive, and end so many more lives.

    March 26, 2009 04:06 pm at 4:06 pm |
  25. John

    I love how so many people think that pot smokers are useless and sit around the house all day doing nothing.

    I know a lot of educated, professional men and women who do smoke pot and lead a very normal and productive life.

    And a lot of you would be surprised to find that many of your friends and neighbors do or have smoked pot. I know I was.

    To each his/her own as long as they are not hurting anyone.

    March 26, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
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