The Pot Movement and Obama

In a candid article in The New Yorker, President Obama had an opportunity to discuss his thoughts on the legalization of marijuana. He explains, “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. I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

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THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) dependence is seen as one of the major hurdles to the pot movement worldwide. Cannabis is seen as a ‘gateway’ drug that can lead to dependence on other more serious illegal substances such as cocaine or heroine. In an article from The Scientific American, researchers from Michigan State University discuss the various dependency rates for these and other dependency causing drugs. Compared to other gateway drugs such as nicotine (a 32% dependency rate) or alcohol (a 15% dependency rate), marijuana’s dependency rate is only 9%. Cocaine garners a 17% dependency rate and heroine has a 23% rate.

Not only is marijuana much safer than other mood-altering alternatives, it can also provide a means for controlling abuse of alcohol and other drugs. According to the online publication PsycheCentral, research done at the University of California-Berkeley in 2009 indicates that of 350 cannabis users, 40 percent use it to control their cravings of alcohol. Sixty-six percent use pot to replace prescription drugs. Twenty-six percent use it in lieu of stronger illicit drugs. Of those who use cannabis, 57.4 percent do so because it helps with symptom management of addictive substances.

In the poll “Do you think marijuana is safer than alcohol?” by 1World Online, 83% of 377 respondents indicate that marijuana is safer than alcohol. Clearly, federal laws do not reflect the voters’ view that cannabis has a legal place in modern society, but Colorado and Washington will be testing grounds about the debate about the wisdom of controlled legalization.

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