Obama's Comments Stoke Marijuana Debate in Missouri

3 years 6 months 2 days ago January 20, 2014 Jan 20, 2014 Monday, January 20 2014 Monday, January 20, 2014 2:52:00 PM CST in News
By: Nick Thompson, KOMU 8 Reporter
loading

COLUMBIA - President Barack Obama's comments published Sunday on his history with marijuana could significantly shape the debate over decriminalization and legalization of the drug in Missouri. 

In an interview published Sunday in New Yorker magazine, Obama said his administration will not interfere with implementation of new state laws that authorize the purchase of marijuana for recreational or medicinal use. 

The administration said it will focus enforcement on targeted goals, such as making sure the drug stays out of the hands of people under the age of 21. 

Obama said he does not believe the drug is more dangerous than drinking alcohol. 

"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. "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol."

Obama said he supports laws that treat users fairly. The president said too many African-American and Latino children are receiving harsher penalties for marijuana use. 

Dan Viets, a Columbia organizer with Show-Me Cannabis, told KOMU 8 News he welcomes Obama's up-front explanation of his experiences with the drug. 

"It doesn't seem to have harmed his career too much and I think the president is again being honest," Viets said. "He's acknowledging the truth that many Americans are well aware of and that's that marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol and that there is no justification for treating people who use marijuana responsibly as if they were criminals."

Obama did not say he supports changing the drug's classification under federal law. Federal law treats marijuana as a schedule one controlled substance, which is the same designation given to heroin and cocaine. 

Viets said that position likely favors well politically for the president. 

"He's testing the waters. He's going to make some comments that have both sides appeased I suppose," Viets said. 

Secretary of State Jason Kander's office recently approved several legalization ballot measure proposals from Show-Me Cannabis. If Show-Me Cannabis gets enough signatures, Missouri voters could soon have the chance to make some decisions on whether to change the state's marijuana laws. 

Viets said the group will soon begin public opinion polling to see if it should push the issue on to the November 2014 ballot or wait until November 2016. 

Several state lawmakers have also filed bills in the current legislative session to lessen penalties for marijuana use. 

Several law enforcement officials and medical professionals in Missouri oppose legalization and decriminalization efforts.

When Show-Me Cannabis planned a meeting in Moberly in mid-October last year, Moberly Police Chief Russell Tarr told KOMU 8 News he does not believe legalization would be good for Moberly or the state. 

"I've got about 28 years of law enforcement experience, and during those times I've witnessed a lot of incidents where marijuana has been at homes, car stops, and I believe it leads to worse things," said Tarr back in October. 

In an editorial published Monday, the Jefferson City News-Tribune wrote Missouri should have a "wait and see" approach on marijuana legalization. The board wrote the state should observe the long-term effects of legalization in Colorado and Washington, the two states that have approved the drug for recreational use. 

More News

Grid
List
COLUMBIA - Missouri's executive office is working on an initiative to help bolster the sales of Missouri farmers within the... More >>
5 hours ago July 23, 2017 Jul 23, 2017 Sunday, July 23 2017 Sunday, July 23, 2017 7:58:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA- Two gym owners pushed a truck around town to raise money for charity Sunday afternoon. Michael Egnew and... More >>
8 hours ago July 23, 2017 Jul 23, 2017 Sunday, July 23 2017 Sunday, July 23, 2017 5:34:00 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Mediation is the next step for a federal lawsuit that alleges a former Missouri police officer... More >>
12 hours ago July 23, 2017 Jul 23, 2017 Sunday, July 23 2017 Sunday, July 23, 2017 1:05:44 PM CDT in News
DUTCHTOWN (AP) — A village in southeast Missouri has no elected officials to make decisions after flooding in recent years... More >>
13 hours ago July 23, 2017 Jul 23, 2017 Sunday, July 23 2017 Sunday, July 23, 2017 12:34:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - The Show-Me State Games have been taking place this weekend across Columbia despite the heat. Participants have played... More >>
13 hours ago July 23, 2017 Jul 23, 2017 Sunday, July 23 2017 Sunday, July 23, 2017 12:03:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - A man died of gunshot wound after he was transported to a local hospital in a personal vehicle... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 10:37:00 PM CDT in Continuous News
PUTNAM COUNTY - The Putnam County Sheriff's Department canceled the Endangered SILVER Advisory for Thomas B. Carman after he has... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 6:26:55 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Saturday former Mizzou Football and basketball raised over $40,000 for charity and left it all on the court... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 5:53:00 PM CDT in News
STURGEON - Extreme heat caused the Boone County Fair to get off to a late start on Saturday. "The... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 4:24:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Show-Me State Games are in full swing with a showcase of over 30 sports with competitors from all... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 3:45:00 PM CDT in Continuous News
COLUMBIA – The Boone County Sheriff’s Department, in a joint effort with the Boone County Fire Department, trained children in... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 3:09:00 PM CDT in News
JEFFERSON CITY (AP) — A man died and two females were critically injured in an apparently accidental carbon monoxide poisoning... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 2:54:00 PM CDT in News
COLUMBIA - Fifty-eight law enforcement agencies across Missouri are cracking down on speeding from Friday to Sunday. They will stop... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 2:15:00 PM CDT in Top Stories
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis police used pepper spray to disperse a crowd protesting outside the city's medium-security jail... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 1:36:20 PM CDT in News
CHESTERFIELD (AP) — The former administrator of a Chesterfield pediatric clinic is charged with stealing more than $115,000 from the... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 1:32:35 PM CDT in News
SPRINGFIELD (AP) — Greene County authorities are looking for nine people who are believed to be involved in an alleged... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 1:25:05 PM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — Kansas City police are investigating three shooting deaths that occurred within four hours Friday. The... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 11:53:23 AM CDT in News
KANSAS CITY (AP) — A plant fossil chipped out of a cliff on the grounds of Park University in northwest... More >>
1 day ago July 22, 2017 Jul 22, 2017 Saturday, July 22 2017 Saturday, July 22, 2017 11:35:32 AM CDT in News
Columbia, MO
Broken Clouds 74°
2am 74°
3am 73°
4am 72°
5am 70°

Select a station to view its upcoming schedule:

Coming Up Next

1:05a
Dateline NBC
2:03a
Dateline NBC
3:00a
Paid Program
12:00a
Almost Mercy
2:00a
Paid Program
2:30a
Paid Program

Tonight's Schedule

7:00p
American Ninja Warrior
9:00p
Midnight, Texas
7:00p
Supergirl
8:00p
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
8:30p
Whose Line Is It Anyway?
9:00p
KOMU 8 News @ Nine on The CW
9:30p
Seinfeld