- - Tuesday, January 28, 2014

President Obama says smoking pot is no big deal. Not every man who has lived at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue has been a paragon of virtue, nor is perfection expected there (or anywhere else). But it’s jarring when the president of the United States plays apologist for vice.

In an interview with The New Yorker magazine, Mr. Obama expressed indifference to the mainstreaming of marijuana in Colorado and Washington, and the inroads toward legalization pot has made in other states.

“As has been well documented,” he told the magazine, “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. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

Marijuana is an analgesic that produces euphoria — not exactly the mental state that compels a user to get off his duff and accomplish his life’s goals. Today’s weed is not your father’s reefer. The modern variety is genetically modified and contains a potency that has nearly tripled over the past two decades.

The president’s own White House Office of Drug Control Policy says so. The new “Rocky Mountain high” is much loftier than the president may remember from his younger days.

“He’s living in the past,” says John P. Walters, the drug czar in the George W. Bush administration. Mr. Walters observes that heavy use of ganja typically reduces a person’s IQ by 7 points. A new federal study finds that 6.5 percent of high school seniors get stoned daily. That’s a brain drain the nation can’t afford.

Mr. Obama is equally unfazed by the implications of transforming America into a stoner nation. Out-of-state buyers loading up grass to take home in places where the prohibition of pot is still enforced, a spike in the number of children winding up in the emergency room after ingesting their parents’ marijuana-laced food, and a jump in auto fatalities resulting from THC-impaired driving have followed legalization.

Americans love to root for the rebel, but the president who gives a free pass to dope is not a freedom fighter. Mr. Obama is comfortable enabling his NSA spies to watch Americans playing a game of Angry Birds on their iPhone, read through every titillating text message and browse through family photos.

He isn’t working to get government to leave people alone, which may be why pollsters find it increasingly difficult to uncover an American who says United States is headed in “the right direction.”

By arguing that regular ganja use is merely “a bad habit,” the president has displayed the addled thinking for which potheads are known, more evidence that it’s wise to get medical advice from a physician, not a politician.