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Jay Carney: Obama didn't endorse new pot laws

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Politics,White House,Brian Hughes,Barack Obama,PennAve,Marijuana,Drug Legalization,Jay Carney,Law

Washingtonexaminer.com/section/white-house">White House press secretary Jay Carney insisted Wednesday that President Obama had not given his blessing to state laws in Colorado and Washington legalizing marijuana.

“He’s not endorsing any specific move by a state,” Carney told reporters Wednesday.

However, those pushing for the legalization of marijuana were emboldened by a recent New Yorker profile in which the president suggested the drug was no more dangerous than alcohol and quite similar to cigarettes.

“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,” Obama said as part of an extensive profile by the magazine on Sunday. “I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol.”

And on Washington's and Colorado's new pot laws, Obama added that the statutes should “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.”

Still, Carney said Obama was making a broader point about the disparity in jail sentences for minorities and low-income people who get caught using drugs — not calling for new laws legalizing marijuana.

“There’s no question we’ve applied our drug laws in a way that has been counterproductive,” Carney said.

And Carney downplayed the president's comments on Wednesday.

“The president’s positions on these matters,” Carney said, “hasn’t changed.”

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Brian Hughes

White House Correspondent
The Washington Examiner