The president is quoted today saying some things I never excepted a president to say. Maybe it is a sign of the times or maybe it’s the liberation of not needing to seek reelection or maybe it’s just Obama, but it’s refreshing. Here’s the first:

In an interview published Sunday by the New Yorker, President Obama said pot is no more dangerous than alcohol — and that marijuana legalization in Colorado and Washington state is an “important” move towards a more just legal system.
“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,” Obama told reporter David Remnick. “I don’t think it is more dangerous than alcohol.” In fact, the president went on to admit pot was actually less dangerous “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.”

Obama also dived into the vastly disproportionate effect marijuana arrests and incarcerations have on non-white Americans. “Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties.”

Here’s the second:

President Obama doesn’t have a son, but if he did, he wouldn’t let him play pro football. The president disclosed that fact in the latest issue of the New Yorker, where he also compared playing football to smoking.

“I would not let my son play pro football,” Obama said. It’s important to point out that Obama said pro football, meaning there’s a chance he’d let his son play Pop Warner football.

I love football, too. I used to get up every Sunday morning and go pound up against other guys for a couple hours. I gave it up at thirty when my brother who was then forty finally retired. But it’s dangerous and, despite becoming America’s favorite pastime, the president was honest about.

And he wasn’t a hypocrite about his pot-smoking, either, but a lot of parents who want to discourage marijuana smoking in their kids are not going to thank him for it. The thing is, what he said was correct.

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Martin Longman is the web editor for the Washington Monthly. See all his writing at