- - Wednesday, January 22, 2014

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Obama says marijuana is no different from cigarettes and no “more dangerous than alcohol” — and he should know.

Unlike Bill Clinton, who famously said he tried marijuana but didn’t inhale, Barry Obama, in the days of his youth, toked it up like Hunter S. Thompson on spring break. The future president smoked “in a white classmate’s sparkling new van,” toked “in the dorm room of some brother, and he boked up on the beach with a couple of Hawaiian kids,” Mr. Obama wrote in his autobiography.

All while he was in high school.

In fact, Barry was a world-class stoner. According to the book “Barack Obama: The Story,” he made up a game called “Roof Hits” with his buddies, known collectively as the Choom Gang. “When they were chooming in a car, all the windows had to be rolled up so no smoke blew out and went to waste; when the pot was gone, they tilted their heads back and sucked in the last bit of smoke from the ceiling.”

The kid became an expert weedster, blazing spliffs of Maui Wowie, Kauai Electric, Puna Bud, Kona Gold. Yes, Hawaii is nirvana, and the time is always 4:20.

So, it comes as no surprise that the president has come out with what is a virtual endorsement of marijuana. In a lengthy interview published in The New Yorker, the president downplays the danger of marijuana as nothing more than a “bad habit,” despite numerous reports that the drug is far more dangerous than once thought.

While many people think cannabis is harmless, a report published in June shows it is 20 times more carcinogenic to smoke than tobacco. The drug is also “strongly associated” with suppression of the immune system and heart disease, if taken for long enough, the report found.

But following public opinion, as he always does, the president said legalization of pot in Washington state and Colorado could even lead to legalization of cocaine and methamphetamine.

“As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” Mr. Obama said in the interview. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

Mr. Obama also cried racism (again), saying the poor and minorities face stiffer penalties for smoking marijuana in states where it is still illegal. He suggests that the legalization trend should spread, “because it’s important for a society not to have a situation in which a large portion of people have at one time or another broken the law and only a select few get punished.”

As for coke and meth, the president waxed philosophical.

“I also think that, when it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound. And you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues,” Mr. Obama said. “If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, ‘Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka.’”

“Are we open to that? If somebody says, ‘We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth.’ Are we OK with that?” the president asked.

One person who takes issue with the president is former Rhode Island Democratic Rep. Patrick Kennedy (and the Kennedys know drugs). “He is wrong when he says that it isn’t very harmful, because the new marijuana is not the old marijuana,” Mr. Kennedy said, sounding like someone in the know. “We need to have presidential decisions made based upon public health and the sound science that the federal government’s invested in.”

“I think the president needs to speak to his [National Institutes of Health] director in charge of drug abuse,” he said, predicting that she “would tell the president that, in fact, today’s modern, genetically modified marijuana [has] much higher THC levels, far surpass[es] the marijuana that the president acknowledges smoking when he was a young person.”

What’s more, the National Drug Control Policy’s stance, still posted on the whitehouse.gov website, says just the opposite of what the president says.

“Confusing messages being presented by popular culture, media, proponents of ‘medical’ marijuana, and political campaigns to legalize all marijuana use perpetuate the false notion that marijuana is harmless. This significantly diminishes efforts to keep our young people drug-free and hampers the struggle of those recovering from addiction,” the website says.

“The administration steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana and other drugs because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs, and pose significant health and safety risks to all Americans, particularly young people.”

But with his plunging approval rating, Mr. Obama is looking for a boost from — anywhere. Maybe his last hope is the stoned-out twentysomethings. So light up, America: It’ll make Obamacare seem so much better.

Joseph Curl covered the White House and politics for a decade for The Washington Times and is now editor of the Drudge Report. He can be reached at josephcurl@gmail.com and on Twitter @josephcurl.