In an interview with popular YouTube bloggers on Jan. 22, President Barack Obama said he believes more states are likely to legalize marijuana.
The interview took place between Obama and YouTube creators Bethany Mota, GloZell Green and Hank Green. The interview covered some of the top issues facing the country, including legalizing marijuana.
Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana in 2014, and other states, including California, have repeatedly voted on legislation over the years to do the same but failed to pass the measure.
Obama said that while federal laws still classify marijuana as an illegal substance, there is no plan to spend a lot of resources to overturn state decisions.
“What you’re seeing now is Colorado, Washington through state referenda, they’re experimenting with legal marijuana,” Obama said. “The position of my administration has been that we still have federal laws that classify marijuana as an illegal substance, but we’re not going to spend a lot of resources trying to turn back decisions that have been made at the state level on this issue."
Obama believes the trend of legalizing marijuana may make its way to other states in the future.
"My suspicion is that you're going to see other states look at this," Obama said.
Obama also discussed issues related to federal application of drug policy. The Washington Post reports Obama said he will continue to have his administration review treatment of nonviolent drug offenders. Obama also noted that marijuana drug policy should be treated more as a public health issue than a criminal one.
“What I am doing at the federal level is asking my Department of Justice just to examine generally how we are treating nonviolent drug offenders,” Obama said.
“What we have done is instead of focusing on treatment, the same way we focused say with tobacco or drunk driving or other problems where we treat it as a public health problem, we’ve treated this exclusively as a criminal problem. And I think that it’s been counterproductive and it’s been devastating in a lot of minority communities. It presents the possibility at least of unequal application of the law and that has to be changed,” Obama said.
Obama told The New Yorker last year that he did not think pot was more dangerous than alcohol, but he still saw its use as “a bad habit and a vice,” reports The Hill.
In the same interview, Obama showed support for Colorado’s legalization of marijuana, saying it was “important for it to go forward because it’s important for 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."