March 26th, 2009
04:12 PM ET
12 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 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. chris

    Shows what sort of bought out coward he is. He knows that this would be something his political enemies, the Republicans and their filthy base, would use, and yet, he knows it is the only logical outcome. The decriminalization of marijuana would end tons of "war on drugs" policies that are costly, sustain murder along our border, and needlessly ruin lives due to prosecutor zealots who lock up users. End this prohibition nightmare once and for all.

    March 26, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  2. cherd bob

    I think it would be a great idea! It would immediately decriminalize everyone handling the stuff, gotta like less criminals around. I've never heard of MAPS (mothers against pot smokers), never heard of anyone dying from it, but I have heard of thousands of people dying because of Alcohol. Never woken up sick from it. Anyone who wants it, gets it anyway. Should the fireman, school principal above be arrested becuase they have pot despite the fact that they are true role models? Why should anyone care what someone does in the comfort of their own home? How could it NOT boost the economy? It IS NOT addicting. Would you rather be in a nightclub next to a guy who just had 5 jack-n-cokes or the guy who just burned one?

    March 26, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  3. unreal

    yep, let's continue to waste billions of dollars chasing this white whale. have we not learned anything from the abysmal failure that is the "war on drugs"? have we not learned that legislation is no deterrent?

    what do you think the percentage of people who refuse to use marijuana because of it's legal status is?

    at what point do we realize that our initiatives have failed here? how much money are we going to continue to waste on a program of prohibition that does not work? how many people are we going to lock up (at the taxpayer's expense) for non-violent drug offenses? if they weren't criminals before, they sure are by the time they get released!

    at what point do parents take responsibility for their children rather than relying on the government? if you want to keep your kids off drugs, don't lobby for legislation, be a parent. a real parent who invests real time into your child's life. there is no bigger deterrent for drug use.

    March 26, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  4. AA

    He should legalize it, but not now, americans can't handle that much change in such a short time.

    The nutcase, ignorant, conservative, hillbilly, religulous folks who cannot wrap their martini and moonshine infused brains around the fact the weed is 100 times less dangerous would want to start a civil war.

    They would prefer to wrap their cars around poles.


    March 26, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  5. mike in ohio

    i like obama (most of the time), but this is BS!

    what kind of nonsense answer was this? "no i don't think it should be legal, next question"????

    ANSWER THE QUESTION MR PRESIDENT! WHY should it remain illegal????

    taxing it will bring in revenue for the states and legalizing it will take a huge amount of power away from the drug cartels!

    March 26, 2009 04:34 pm at 4:34 pm |
  6. Mobius

    So he gets something ELSE wrong. We're used to it.

    And he IS wrong on this.

    March 26, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  7. Shakes

    Florence, Marijuana has no physically addictive properties. Please at least fact check a little before posting. Makes you seem less uneducated.

    Peter E., Many people consume Marijuana and hold a job. An estimated 25 million people use Marijuana. Why even bring such a weak argument?

    You guys at least come with something semi-intelligent if you want to debate FACT. Thanks. As far as Obama laughing, of course he did. Legalization is not going to be an issue for the foreseeable future. He would get destroyed by the press if he broke focus on the war, economy, etc. Eric Holder already stated those ludicrous dispensary raiding's by the DEA are a thing of the past. A good start.

    March 26, 2009 04:35 pm at 4:35 pm |
  8. bm

    Thats garbage. Its obviously an imporant issue that millions feel deserves to be a topic of national talk.

    March 26, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  9. Smoker

    Peter E. said – If these pot users put that pot down and got up from their computer and started actually working THAT would stimulate the economy!

    Of course, theres always got to be one who just doesn't have a clue. I have been a pot smoker for 30 years and it has never caused an issue. Spent the last 12 years in the same job, owned a home, paid my bills on time, etc. Time to get into the 21st century and realize that pot is such a puppy drug, so much less destructive than cigarettes or alcohol, no addiction, hangovers, etc. The gov't might as well legalize it cause its a waste of time to try to eradicate it since that will never happen. I certainly have no problem finding it and it is readily available so why even bother enforcing such an outdated and stupid law. Take the trade out of the Mexican smugglers and gangbangers hands and that eliminates a huge portion of your "war on drugs", which is such a failed joke !! Legalize, tax it and let Americans catch a buzz, chill and enjoy !!! I know thats what I'll be doing when I get outta work !! Party on dude !!!

    March 26, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  10. JR

    He shouldn't look at it as a way to stimulate the ecomomy but as a way to cut the budget. If you took the people who used, produced, sold or stole to get drugs out of the prisons, the prison population would be more than halved. Police would be able to concentrate on more pressing issues and the cost of drug enforcement would be eliminated. The Mexican/South American cartel problem would vanish. Think of the savings. But no. Why not? A correctional officer once told me that "we don't want that because legalization would put us out of business."

    March 26, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  11. autumn

    as for putting down the pot and going to work i know many people who work full time plus hours. they put in 48-72 hrs weekly. they have the same jobs for multiple years and fear getting hurt because that would cost them their job. not all "stoners" are lazy. most have to work to afford it as well as all the rest of their bills. i've seen people do more harm with alcohol which is LEGAL than 10 pot smokers put together. making it legal would just stop governments from making so much off the tickets and court costs

    March 26, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  12. Ian

    Peter E,

    I am a funeral director and work on average 70 hours a week. So, that makes me unproductive? BTW, its hard for ANYONE in this economy to be productive when there are no jobs.

    But I digress. 800,000 arrests a years is too high a price to pay both in human rights and in court, prosecution, and incarceration costs. For what? A crime that is based on nothing more than personal choice. When are we going to stop this rash or legislating personal morality and belief and forcing others to abide? Live your life how you see fit and leave mine alone. End this prohibition!

    March 26, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  13. MR. OBAMA

    this would be the ultimate going green. Many people don't realize that this could bring in billions thats with a b from the state of california alone. the best thing to get us out of this economic mess would be to grow america grow and not drill baby drill. Grown in the earth nourished by the water burn by the fire its the greeniest we could go

    March 26, 2009 04:36 pm at 4:36 pm |
  14. Liz T, Tucson

    I am sure the GOP and far right would just love to see Obama advocate the legalization of marijuana.

    March 26, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  15. Susan/Ohio

    I have never used drugs (cocaine, crack, marijuana, etc) because it is medically proven that it kills your brain cells. But, it is openly used in San Francisco and on college campuses, so the government should legalize all drugs. This law would provide jobs and stimulate the economy, plus think of the sin tax the IRS could collect! It would also cut out the drug cartel. President Obama openly admitted he smoked marijuana in the past. Also Eric Holder could release thousands of prisoners from the system. It would be a win win situation!
    BUT, due to working in the medical field for 30 years I would educate my family and friends on the dangers of drug use and how it ruins your life and can kill you.

    March 26, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  16. scott

    I think that pot should be legalized for one simple reason. Alcohol.
    How as a society can anyone who has ever had even one drink say that pot is bad? No one has ever died from pot, ever! No one crashes their car into a tree from smoking, no one beats their wife after smoking, no one gets into a bar fight after smoking or has sex in a way they would regret and then not remember. Alcohol is a dangerous deadly DRUG and yet you can buy it anywhere and in hundreds of flavors. Yet harmless pot is illegal? Who makes up these rules? Obama should be ashamed.

    March 26, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  17. Ben

    I am disappointed and deeply concerned regarding a comment that CNN posted regarding this article. The comment by Sharon LV reads:

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

    Directly to the right of this comment box CNN's policy states that all comments are reviewed before posting and "...may not appear on this blog until they have been reviewed and deemed appropriate for posting." Furthermore CNN's Comment Policy which states, "You may not post any unlawful, threatening, defamatory, obscene, pornographic or other material that would violate the law. All comments should be relevant to the topic and remain respectful of other authors and commenters."

    This policy is appropriate and I support it, however it has clearly been overlooked or ignored as the hateful, racist, and ignorant words that Sharon LV has written have somehow been deemed appropriate to post in the comment section. There is the argument that everyone should have a voice and certainly people sharing her views exist, however a news company's website is certainly not the place for such hate.

    I hope CNN will remove those words and follow their own policies more accordingly.


    March 26, 2009 04:37 pm at 4:37 pm |
  18. AJ

    Apparently the GOP has come up with an alternative budget proposal. Now, if they have guts they will put it on the web for everyone to see!!

    March 26, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  19. D. Sangiovanni

    The reason this country is the way it is you can find it reading the comments. "Legalize pot to improve economy". What a joke to ask a president.

    March 26, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  20. We Need Weed

    Whiskey was illegal and was looked at as "bad" back in the roaring twenties but when things turned bad after the crash they legalized it.

    For all you ignorant people who talk bad about it, just remember that Thomas Jefferson grew pot on his own land and would "sit back and enjoy the fruit of his labor" everyday.

    I'm educated, successful, and a dedicated smoker of the great plant that has many medical uses as well as recreational uses. Nothing wrong with it. Liquor is a far worse enemy of health issues than pot. You'll see the prisons in this country less full and crime take a down turn. Maybe that's the reason why it'll never be legal... job security for the police, courts, judges, and correction officers. Very sad.

    Keep the blunts burning and make it legal.

    March 26, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  21. Joanna

    That's too bad. I've never been a user, but I definitely support the idea of legalization and govt regulation of the industry......deficit? What deficit? As a nation, we'd be out of debt in no time, and it would it would put the gangs (transport & distribution) and drug cartels (manufacture/supply) out of business.

    March 26, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  22. The lonely Libertarian of Liverpool NY

    I will not go away CNN Like Arnold I'll be back, and when you ask for my interview, it will be refused. Watch for my youtube coming soon, after 50 years of trying to do make this change nicely, time for some radical 1960's protests.

    March 26, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  23. Jaded

    As a past marijuana user I am offended by the comments made regarding pot smokers. There are lots of us out there who have or still do use marijuana on a regular basis. We get up in the morning, we go to work, we pay our taxes, we pay our bills. We take care of our families and our jobs. We contribute to society, we do what we have to do. There are people who lose their jobs, lose their families, and occasionally kill innocent victims all while using the legal drug of alcohol. Keeping prohibition around for a drug that has had scientific proof of helping people in pain is a ridiculous and antiquated way of thinking. Do we not remember the crime and violence that happened during alcohol prohibition? Get your heads out of the dark ages America.

    March 26, 2009 04:38 pm at 4:38 pm |
  24. Kenneth

    I agree with everyone in support of legalizing marijuana. There are more illegal users than legal non-users. It is not a gateway drug and most certainly not addictive. A marijuana smoker only desires to be left alone. Therefore crime would go down while food sales would go through the roof!!!

    March 26, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  25. UM

    It is terrible for a country which used to be a leader in the world in almost everything has to ask it president to legalize pot, and use that money to pull the America out of recession. May be these short cuts to success brought us to this soup.

    March 26, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
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