March 26th, 2009
04:12 PM ET
5 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. Sweetpoison

    Sadly, this was a legitimate question (actually there were several similar questions) that the President jokingly pushed aside. The violence occurring on our border should dictate that he and congress should deal with the legality or decriminilization of marijuana. The facts are that as long as there is prohibition there will be a black market that will sell to our youth, violence will continue and harmless users will be incarcerated

    March 26, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  2. mke

    lol, @the comment about "putting down the pot and getting to work would spur economy".....LOL....really?......we already do, we pot smokers make up a huge percent of the workforce....we are your employees, bosses, lawmakers, mothers, fathers, CEO's, .....pot has been around longer than your family line.....MJ needs to be legalised and regulated like cigarettes and alchohol....ppl need to be educated on this matter and stop pretending marijuana is the boogeyman.....LOL...( "put down the pot and get to work", hahahahaha thats a good one...LOL)

    March 26, 2009 04:07 pm at 4:07 pm |
  3. Conservative, FL

    BB, Just because a lot of people you know do it, doesn't mean it is a good thing to do. I don't know anyone who uses pot, anymore. My dad did for years after Vietnam and he died in his early 50's. Not saying pot was the cause, but it surely didn't help. I'm not against medicinal use, but I don't think it needs to be legal for the general population.

    March 26, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  4. Wes

    It's a shame that Obama made a joke out of a serious question that deserves serious discussion and consideration.

    I still have yet to hear a single valid point against the legalization of marijuana. All of the dissenter's opinions are fueled by stereotypes, mis-information and lack of information.

    March 26, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  5. Colin

    I cannot believe he laughed off the number one topic, well MULTIPLE number 1 topics. I thought he was all about change and to just scoff off all of those posts with a joke. Wow way to go, you just lost a lot of support Obama.

    March 26, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  6. Bob

    Let's go the other way with this and outlaw alcohol and tobacco as well. Both are obvious stairstep drugs as almost all hard drug users started with alcohol and tobacco. Also think of all the people we could get off the streets and either into jails or hired into law enforcement or black market careers.

    March 26, 2009 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  7. Ken

    People seem to under estimate the size of the marijuana legalization movement. The media is starting to take notice and running more marijuana friendly articles because they're so popular. The momentum is building and the marijuana lagalization movement will be a force Obama will need to deal with or it will dog him throughout his presidency.

    March 26, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  8. deedee

    A brain is a terrible thing to waste. Its time for Americans to put their brains to work to come up new and innovative solutions to this economic crisis. There are a lot of other weeds Americans should be thinking of growing that can grow this economy other than pot. No, the president will not legalize crack cocaine either. He uses his brain.

    March 26, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  9. RD

    How about medical use? It has proven benefits that the Bush administration chose to ignore despite scientific evidence. I am also disappointed that he brushed aside this issue:

    How many marijuana-related non-violent criminals are clogging up our already overflowing prisons?

    How about hemp? It can be used for paper and grows a crop every year instead of our trees which take 10-20years and are disappearing acre by acre every year.

    How about the Mexican drug war that's raging right now? It's not all over marijuana, but legalizing it would decrease demand on Mexican marijuana markets and give American farmers a new cash crop.

    To Peter E: Do you know how many professors, doctors, lawyers smoke marijuana for quiet contemplation? They got off their buts and went to 4years of medical school and residency/law school and still managed to do fine.

    To Florence: Marijuana is NOT physically addictive like heroine. It is psychologically addictive, and I agree this might not be the right time to introduce it for recreational use, but for medical use... it should have been legalized long ago.

    To Sharon: That's a racist comment and you know it. Keep you're nasty thoughts off the internet please.

    March 26, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  10. shucks

    It would be an incredible source of revenue. And by the way millions of Americans smoke pot, including doctors, lawyers, lawmakers, and yes, even religious clergy. You can't overdose on it like you can on alcohol, and widthdrawal is very easy, unlike alcohol, which people have died from lack of treatment during widthdrawal from alcohol. It would also save billions in our war on drugs which has been as wasteful as any program ever established, and does not work.

    March 26, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  11. Josh

    Its not the worst idea in the world. I mean there are far worse things that are legal already.........

    March 26, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  12. Andy

    Thanks Charles. The other comments under this article show exactly why this country needs to have a better conversation when it comes to marijuana. The fact that there were so many other questions regarding marijuana shows that it is becoming a prominent issue. Arguing that it will fix the economy, I admit, probably isn't the best argument but not so ridiculous that it should just be laughed off. Prohibition of alcohol was repealed during the great depression to create revenue and end the great amount of violence that prohibition created. Sound familiar to today's economic situation and the violence in Mexico?

    March 26, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  13. John Carter

    How is it that we can still criminalize marijuana? Head on collisions caused by excessive alcohol consumption have taken the lives of thousands of innocent people. Someone who is high on marijuana might miss their exit, but they won't cause the death and destruction of a drunk driver, nor will they ever overdose and die from using this naturally growing plant.

    March 26, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  14. Sam S. Smith

    I guess the pot lobbyist are not giving up...

    March 26, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  15. Not hooked

    reply to FLORENCE MUTESASIRA,

    This drug is not addictive!!!!! If it were, 4/5th of the country would be hooked. Its actually safer than alcohol, a drug that kills thousands of innocent victims yearly.

    March 26, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  16. Mickie

    I support Pres. Obama on most things but not this one. It is exactly the type of thing to spur the economy. We wouldn't be spending millions on arresting people who use less marijuana than people who use alcohol and drive with 19 DUI's, and then they could only arrest people committing other crimes while using or selling to minors, the say way they do with alcohol and cigarettes. Imagine the cost-saving and the tax revenue that would be generated.

    March 26, 2009 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  17. Robert Conard

    It's too bad that President Obama laughed it off. It is a serious question that needs to be thought through and given serious consideration. Although I admit... the timing is not the best.

    March 26, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  18. Irene

    My brother was murdered because he got busted for Pot and the narcs used him for bait to bust other people. Pot needs to be legalized and the enforcers of our draconian drug policies need to get a real job! Get a clue – our drug war is the problem, not the drugs themselves! I get so angry every time I see our officuials using people as pawns in their phony war for profit.

    March 26, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  19. Michael, Farmington, NH

    The misconceptions abound. I wonder how many people here who criticize marijuana have actually used it? I use it every day and I work my butt off. It's a nice way to relax after putting in an eight or nine hour day.

    Perhaps the folks who oppose the decriminalization of marijuana would also like to reprohibit alcohol? Liquor has been proven to be far more destructive than marijuana.

    And perhaps the folks who oppose it would mind commenting on the negatives surrounding marijuana's prohibition? Such as:

    1. Disrespect for the law being bred by those who use it despite the prohibition
    2. Enormous blood shed caused by the cartels and dealers who are empowered and created by drug laws
    3. The oppression of families destroyed by draconian laws and fines for the victimless crime of marijuana use
    4. The billions of unrecouped dollars spent on an obviously failed "war on drugs"
    5. The unrealized billions of dollars in profit if it were decriminalized

    There are no rational, realistic reasons for a naturally occuring plant to be prohibited by law. The rationale behind it's prohibition are founded in early 20th century xenophobia and lies propogated by industries endangered by hemp.

    Let's grow up.

    March 26, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  20. Danny

    "Osama's not legalizing marijuana? pretty sure he will legalize crack cocaine"

    Yeah... that's the type of unity we want in this country... Shame on people who think that this ignorance should belong on websites, or exist for that matter.

    March 26, 2009 04:12 pm at 4:12 pm |
  21. Thomas

    "I don't know what that says about the online audience."
    It's the same online audience that voted for him! Guess since he moved he doesn't care to hear from his supporters on the (other) issues.

    March 26, 2009 04:13 pm at 4:13 pm |
  22. Tariq

    Sure mirjuana can stimulate the economy.....the food sector will flourish, the music industry will be revived, and the drug companies will hit jackpot!

    March 26, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  23. Nel from Chicago

    FLORENCE MUTESASIRA said: "I think the presiden is so right, it is the wrong timing for the country to legalize weed, because most people are going through a tough time and are depressed, so chances of being hooked on this drug are high. My advise to green machine is talk to people who are addicted to this drug and find out how it has stimulated their house economy."

    Give me a break! How is this any different than people who are hooked on nicotine, caffiene or alcohol?

    March 26, 2009 04:14 pm at 4:14 pm |
  24. RedConservative

    If not now, when?

    Anybody who thinks that we are winning the drug war has greater delusions than pot could ever cause. I'm sick of the government trying to tell me what kind of cocktails and can have after a hard day's work. If I get up, go to my job, and live an honest life, then I shouldn't have to go sneaking around to do something that hurts no one else but myself.

    Get some balls, Obama.

    March 26, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
  25. Ryan

    Decriminalizing pot would do plenty of good for some and plenty of harm for others. Obama and Holder's stance seems to be in line with much of the American population- medical users (many of whom are veterans) should have access to medication that has been wrongfully scheduled through the pressures of fiscal conservatives. Now that Bush is gone, it looks like although federal laws will not be changing in regards to marijuana use, those who rely on affordable pain relief will not be prosecuted. This just goes to show that leadership and hope IS alive in America. We have a far way to go, but the shift away from self-interested conservative ideology is good no matter what directions we may take. A quick note to the drug industry: Bush was no problem, but let's see you lobby your way through Obama. Lastly, I don't support marijuana's legalization any more than I do of alcohol. But, if those living in pain can benefit from anything- even if it is not controlled (profitable for someone)- they should be allowed access. I'm excited to see how Obama stands up to the other arms of the corporate cancer legion of America.

    March 26, 2009 04:15 pm at 4:15 pm |
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