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. JJ

    I agree with BB. Banning Marijuana is the modern day version of Prohibition. And prohibition was removed during to great depression to help stop violence it created and stimulate the economy. Whats soo bad about Marijuana over alcohol. Alcohol kills alot more people than Marijuana. Billions of dollars are spent by the government to monitor and govern the laws against marijuana and no its not harder to get. While those billions could be saved by legalizing marijuana and also billions made by the tax it would produce, just like cigarettes and alcohol. There should still be regulations against it, as their is with cigarettes and alcohol, but legalizing marijuana would bring a big change to the economy especially now in a time that needs it. Majority of the marijuana that is used in the US is produced in the US, so job creation would be increased as well as helping improve that deficit with the taxation on it. I vote yes legalize it.

    P.S. Sharon LV you must be a crackhead for even making that comment.

    March 26, 2009 04:44 pm at 4:44 pm |
  2. Lori from MO

    Totally bummed about Obama's flippant attitude on this topic. Legalizing pot actually helps the economy (saves $44billion in drug war and could bring in $30billion in new revenue), adds to healthcare (natural pain killer vs. pharma), and helps take power away from drug cartels like the ones causing so many problems in Mexico (and the U.S.) right now. Maybe technically he's right, it isn't the best way to spur the economy, but I think that putting it in the context of science (much like the embryonic stem cell issue) makes it a valid topic of discussion.

    I'd much rather my tax $ go to finding natural solutions to our problems than to fighting a never ending drug war. Legalization will happen, it's just a matter of which President has a big enough pair to actually enact a common sense measure vs. one mired in political strings. I really thought he'd be less dismissive about legalization. I still like him but just like his detractors, he needs to approach this with an open mind and look at the facts vs. worrying about the social stigma. He favored legalization as an IL Senator; I wonder what changed his mind.

    March 26, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  3. mentos

    It will certainly help out the junk food industry.

    March 26, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  4. doug

    I voted for change not the same BS. Thank you for scoring a three pointer for the status quo Obama! You helped ignorance of the American people to flourish. Now if you'll excuse me I have to spark up before I go study. Legalize marijuana today! Just say no to Puritan/Judeo/Christian "values"! Rise up American Drug culture don't let the status quo win! Legalize marijuana today!

    March 26, 2009 04:45 pm at 4:45 pm |
  5. ACB

    I have MS and have been told that marijuana helps. I have never tried it and probably wont but I think that if its legalized it should be done only for medical use. I think our President has an open mind so if he does make it legal its because he saw proof that it would help many.

    March 26, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  6. Anonymous

    Do you guys really want to be paying 100$ for a gram?

    March 26, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  7. Anita

    What worse legalizing marijuana or partial birth abortion? He is absent minded. Maybe to much pot?

    March 26, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  8. GMOney

    I think obama will come around. he still has to get reelected. I think when he does, his attitude will change. it's politics

    March 26, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  9. Dave

    It is going to take conservative to get pot legalized, just like it took Nixon to go to China and the USSR. This is not a knock on Obama, just a political fact of life.

    March 26, 2009 04:58 pm at 4:58 pm |
  10. Spicoli's Van

    Uh, what was the question again?

    March 26, 2009 04:59 pm at 4:59 pm |
  11. arithmetic is liberal

    doug March 26th, 2009 4:45 pm ET

    Just say no to Puritan/Judeo/Christian "values"! Rise up American Drug culture don't let the status quo win! Legalize marijuana today!

    Yikes. That was a blanket statement...
    Nearly all my Jewish friends smoke pot.
    Almost all my Christian friends, including 2 fundamentalists, smoke pot.

    March 26, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  12. Bill

    I have MS I wish the presadent would conceter medical marijuana.It helps my pain and also spasum control.I need a pump and have surgery and marijuana helps me so much I dont need the surgery as long as I use marijuana.It controls my spasums that good.marijuana has also saved my life it helped me quit smoking sigerits and drinking.My DR. can give me Morphine but I cant smoke marijuana legal or put in jail thats a shame when i have a termanel Disease.

    March 26, 2009 05:14 pm at 5:14 pm |
  13. Sean

    This hypocrite wouldn't be president had he gotten caught smoking as he talks about in his book, he would be just another number in the system.
    I'm just waiting for the impeachment trial, because he's done nothing good for us so far.

    March 26, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  14. Blazed31

    "If these pot users put that pot down and got up from their computer and started actually working THAT would stimulate the economy!"

    -Peter E.

    Here we go again with the 'lazy pothead' stereotype. After a four-year tour in the US Military I decided to start smoking marijuana again. In the past two years while I have been smoking, I have outperformed all of my co-workers. I am halfway through my 4th semester at a university in Wisconsin, with a grade point average of 4.0.

    Now here's a surprise: I have been high 24 hours a day, 7 days a week during this time, with the exception of maybe 7-10 days. That is no exagguration, it's just my lifestyle. It increases both my creativity and productivity, and even better, it is what makes my stress instantly disappear.

    It is the small-mindedness of the general population and their refusal to think outside the box that is hurting this country. These politicians and voters were brought up on the idea that marijuana is evil, and will never think twice about the benefits.

    I can only wait, excitedly I might add, for a few more years when my generation stars coming into political power and changes the way this country is run.

    March 26, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  15. Just Shut Up!

    The evidence of the damage of marijuana to your brain can be found by reading some of these potheads' comments.

    March 26, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  16. Charles L

    What the question says about the President's online audience is:

    1.) This is a major issue for many many Americans, and
    2.) Since the online audience is generally more educated and since pot smokers are also gnerally more educated, it isn't so surprising that this question was near to top of the list.

    Is it finally time for a national debate? Ask all of the people who voted for this question.

    March 26, 2009 05:15 pm at 5:15 pm |
  17. KS

    This is possibly the first time since Obama came into office that I've felt real disappointment with him. As several other comments have mentioned, pot legalization is a much more important and urgent issue than he seems to acknowledge, considering that not only has the War on Drugs proven itself beyond a doubt to be a useless waste of tax money and the drug cartels in Mexico (60% funded by marijuana) have been gaining unprecedented power, but that cannabis is by far the nation's #1 cash crop, legal or illegal. There are millions upon millions of untaxed dollars circulating through the black market because of this one plant alone, so let's tax them! I wonder how much of a tax break low- and middle-income families could get from all that extra revenue....
    The reason why it was such a highly-rated issue is because it's an area in which a huge portion the people of the United States are ready for change, not because the "online audience" is a bunch of burned-out stoners.

    March 26, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  18. The Bu

    I guess the Republicans are a little let down. They were hoping that the President would say something concerning this that they could jump on. They were hoping he would've said that he'll think about it. I could see it now, all the Republicans saying, "see, I knew he was a drug addict in hiding." Or "we've got a dope dealer for a President."

    I say this jokingly, but I am making a serious point. I am tired of our politicians demonizing each other. When do we as Americans demand more from our elected leaders to truly operate in respect?

    Good answer Mr. President and great forum. I would never have imagined in a million years that we would have as much access to our government as you are allowing. Thank you, sir!

    March 26, 2009 05:16 pm at 5:16 pm |
  19. Joel

    I wonder how much money would be saved by reducing the incarceration rate of those convicted for marijuana crimes? No to mention expunging the record of those with convictions, allowing them to pursue jobs without the specter of a conviction looming over them?

    When will these people wake up?

    March 26, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  20. SD,Michigan

    The decision to legalize marijuana at this time would give way too much room for those who criticize him for being already "too far left".
    I can see it in the future tho.

    March 26, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  21. ms honolulu

    Although I do not smoke pot, but lelalize it will definetely help to reduce the use of other hard drugs. I think it will take another generation to change it.

    March 26, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  22. Steve

    I seriously regret voting for this man after hearing this. He said change. HE LIED!

    March 26, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  23. Ken

    @Just Shut Up!

    The potheads are offering reasoned arguments. Seems to me the addled brain person is you.

    March 26, 2009 05:29 pm at 5:29 pm |
  24. Socialism is killing America

    @ RD

    Why do people see racism in remarks about Obama and cocaine. He admitted to using it. Maybe you see racism in the remark because that's how you see african americans

    March 26, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
  25. dave

    It's dissapointing to see the President, who claims to be "open-minded", laugh off such a suggestion I didnt find it was very funny at all.

    March 26, 2009 05:30 pm at 5:30 pm |
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