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. Dave

    The question here should be whether the money we have spent in the war on drugs, particularly marajuana, is having the effects we've intended.

    Most of the problems we see with Marajuana are on the supply side because of its illegal nature. Crime and violence mostly are resulting from the illegality of it, just like alcohol during prohibition.

    Legalization/de-criminalization would allow us to redirect resources to real crime, tax the use of marajuana, and regulate it under the FDA to make it safer.

    Its a legitimate question, but one that I wouldn't expect Obama to address because of the socio-political ramifications of recognizing that marajuana being illegal causes more problems than marajuana itself.

    And lets not forget the pharmaceutical companies and their lobbies who have the world to lose if a plant thats a natural pain killer were to become legal. Watch the profits from percoset and vicoden go down down down

    March 26, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  2. Will

    No, of course he's not going to legalize marijuana. Obama wouldn't want to pursue policies that ACTUALLY WORK!

    Instead, he wants to plunge our country further and further into hyperinflation hell!

    March 26, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  3. All fluff and no stuff

    "I don't know what that says about the online audience"...........

    It actually speaks volumes about your group, the college aged stoners,the same ones who at various voting places couldn't answer SIMPLE questions on why they uh, uh, uh, uh, uh voted for you last election.

    All these college geniuses could muster up was Hope and uh, uh, uh Change and that mean lady has a daughter who is pregnant.

    Sorry, these are the FACTS, not an opinion by your better, but FACTS.

    Churchill put it best: "He who is not a liberal in their twenties has no heart, he who still is one in their forties has no brains".

    See you geniuses after you actually get up every morning and go to work, pay a few bills yourself, buy your own home, raise children etc, etc.

    Your whole world view of being taxed to pay for do nothing Obama type disciples will have LONG changed in about twenty years.

    Until then, smokem if you gottem...........................

    March 26, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  4. Sherry in Kentucky

    Prohibition doesn't work. It causes everything to go underground and breeds violence and corruption.

    March 26, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  5. NW Indiana Resident

    I absolutely would support decriminalizing marijuana. This falls into the same category as cigarettes and alcohol. Alcohol causes much more damage to your body and impairs you to the point where a person cannot function properly. Why should this be treated any differently? Not only would we create a new major sector in the economy, we would save billions on court costs, jail costs, and so much more. The country could make billions and save billions!

    Needless to say, the country would need many more cookie dough factories...once again...marijuana contributing to the economy in indirect ways!

    March 26, 2009 03:43 pm at 3:43 pm |
  6. Mike Wall

    Well well... what a surprise.
    Perhaps if he wasn't under such fire from the obsolete already.
    Whether he wanted to or not, it wouldn't have happened.
    The US will just have to stick with their beloved libation: Alcohol.
    You can basically find a liquor store within a stones throw in any direction where I grew up in upstate NY. But thats ok... alcohol is harmless.

    March 26, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  7. Kay

    I am a big supporter of Obama, soI am suprised and disappointed that he dismissed such a logical idea out of hand. Aside from the obvious benefits of jobs, tax revenue and control over an adult substance, it would literally strip the power from the Mexican cartel he was just speaking out against Tuesday evening! No one will spend their money on black market marijuanna when a cheaper alternative is available at their corner store. Prohibition gives the black market its power, and out hard earned taxable dollars.

    March 26, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  8. Paul

    It's too bad that the President was so flippant about the question. He praises himself as being pro-science, and yet he shies away from a rational and honest discussion of a legitimate subject. If he were to actually had the courage to study and then inform the American public about the costs of our war on marijuana, both in terms of enforcement and incarceration (not to mention the potential tax revenue loss), he'd do his part towards improving our economy.

    March 26, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  9. fletc3her

    I don't believe strongly in the prohibition of marijuana, but I find the idea that the marijuana industry would be in any way better than the cigarette industry laughable. If marijuana was legalized the cigarette companies would be in the best position to capitalize on it. I think if you asked the average person whether they wanted to double the business of the cigarette companies this year, most would say no.

    March 26, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  10. Billy

    Bad Decision. To blow it off in laughter is not what any president should do when they all they preach is open-mindedness. I smell hypocrisy already.

    Legalize it, tax it, reduce our unreducable debt and put the real criminals in prison, not 18 yr old Chet who was caught with a dime bag.

    March 26, 2009 03:44 pm at 3:44 pm |
  11. Dan Givens

    What a shame! Obama is starting to look like just another politician. The LD50 (a type of toxicity test) for Cannabis makes it one of the most benign substances on the planet; really. Go ahead and Google it; it's true. Politicians (and Obama) know this. So, when they refuse to make a logical policy choice and instead make a political policy choice, they are really not acting in the best interests of the American public.

    March 26, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  12. CCO

    Its unfortunate that the President laughed off this very serious question without giving reasons as to why legalizing marijuana is such a bad idea. I'm sure there was once a time during prohibition where alcohol carried the same stigma that marijuana does now, but now we have politicians chugging beers during campaign stops without raising an eyebrow.
    Its unfortunate that this president of "change" has chosen not to be more open-minded on this issue.

    March 26, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  13. obama-mama

    Pot usually leads to other things.

    March 26, 2009 03:45 pm at 3:45 pm |
  14. John Munday

    It is time to legalize pot now, for many people who need medical marijuana for a quality of life. Pot is harmless, contrary to alchol and tobacco which kills millions! Please can everyone wake up, and go after real criminals, and save tax payers billions of dollars incarcerating innocent victims of puffing on a joint. This is totally ridiculous, all this trouble to eradicate something that is harmless, pot is not on the same field as hard drugs, and should not be treated like a demon weed. The kings and priests smoked pot thousands of years ago to get enlightened, there are so many health benefits to mention. Make pot legal so Canada can follow your example!

    March 26, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  15. Blake

    This is not only an economic issue, but it is also relates to crime. legalizing drugs will take away street value, and reduce the crimes that follow.

    March 26, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  16. J C Evans

    And help control the boarder war in Mexico!

    March 26, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  17. Russie

    Frankly, legalizing marijuana is not a bad idea. It could mean additional revenue for the govt and less money spent on arrests, courts, and prisons for those using and selling the "drug". I am a 33 year old mother suggesting this, not a teenager. Just my two cents.

    March 26, 2009 03:46 pm at 3:46 pm |
  18. richard, Coweta Ok

    He will change his mind as soon as someone tells him how to tax it.

    March 26, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  19. chris

    WHAT.... can I change my vote now ;~)

    March 26, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  20. lou

    Pot is no more dangerous than alcohol. If we had some big businesses like the alcohol and tabacco industries pushing it, I'll bet we could all enjoy a legal doobie by next week.

    March 26, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  21. Frozone

    Barak's answer to legalizing marijuana was kind of Special Olympics.

    March 26, 2009 03:47 pm at 3:47 pm |
  22. Mr. Magic

    This is a hard topic for Obama to tackle, I voted for him and I love him with all of my American heart, but being a Black American I can see the double edge sword this topic can be. If he legalize marijuana this will defiantly help the economy and help end some of the drug related violence we have here in American (remember prohibition?), and since marijuana is one of the largest cash crops in America and a multibillion dollar industry the tax revenue can be enormous. However, if the first black president legalizes a "drug" that just give the republicans more ammo to call him every name in the book and he will go down in history as being a drug promoter. Thus he has no choice but to find more orthodox solutions to our problem.

    March 26, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  23. Leroy Sturdivant

    This is what needs to happen if a whole county can survive off of marijuana why cant tha country.Mr.President if you do tha facts and see how much money this country will make maybe you can use that money to pay off our debt instead of puttin it on tha american people.Now that would be change I blieve in and b able to keep that change in my pocket lol.

    March 26, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  24. Dave

    It would certainly do wonders for the potato chip and fast food industry.

    March 26, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
  25. Karen-Missouri

    Obama is right...period.

    March 26, 2009 03:49 pm at 3:49 pm |
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