Obama's remarks on pot spark debate among Pinoys

By Raul Legaspi and Henni Espinosa, ABS-CBN North America Bureau

Jan. 21, 2014

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. – “Marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol,” President Barack Obama said in a series of interviews with The New Yorker. He added that he smoked pot as a kid and he views it as as “bad habit” and a “vice”. But the President pointed out that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol, in terms of impact on the individual consumer.

Currently, 20 states and the District of Columbia have laws legalizing marijuana in some form. Only two states, Colorado and Washington, have allowed the recreational use of marijuana. Alaska, California, Washington DC, Oregon and Arizona may be the next states to legalize the sale of pot.

In Arizona, Representative Ruben Gallego said his proposed bill would allow people in the state to buy marijuana in stores, just like alcohol. He said, “This is for purely recreation use, like somebody who buys alcohol. And if you use it in a proper manner, in the privacy of your home — then you should be fine.”

Gallego believes legalizing the sale of marijuana will benefit the government through the taxes it will generate. He said, most importantly, it will regulate the use of marijuana. He pointed out, “What we want to do is basically bring marijuana outside the black market and into normal establishments that will have background checks, that will ask for ID’s. That way, we’ll actually destroy the ability of individual drug dealers to be able to sell to young men and young women.”

Kababayans here have mixed reactions to the issue.

JR Santos said he’s fine with legalizing marijuana, “as long as it’s regulated like it is for alcohol.” He added, “You have to be able to show that you’re responsible enough to consume it.”

Others are against it.

Neil Gonzales expressed, “That makes it more accessible to young people. They could get addicted to it.”

“As a parent and grandparent, I don’t agree with it because the long-term effects of marijuana could lead to depression, aggression. It could impact relationships.”

DrugFreeAZ.org’s newly-appointed program director, Filipino-American Thalia Williams said parents have a big responsibility to educate their children about marijuana.

She said, “The biggest focus we have at DrugFreeAz.org when it comes to marijuana is education. You must speak with your children about the dangers of marijuana. We are not giving a position when it refers to legalization but we do say that there is a danger involving with marijuana.”

She said the average age of people using drugs in Arizona is thirteen. “That’s really young. You want to make sure you reach them before they get some bad information from another source,” she added.

DrugFreeAZ.org said contrary to popular belief. marijuana is addictive and can cause memory and learning problems, hallucinations and delusions.

You can contact Henni Espinosa at henna_espinosa@abs-cbn.com for more information.

2 Comments on this post.

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  • Jack
    22 January 2014 at 7:09 pm - Reply

    A President saying this “MJ is no more dangerous than alcohol”. Obama leads the children to try MJ. This is what you get when you elected a progressive Democrat,the political party who legalized MJ. Pot is a downers and addictive, it can control the mind of the user to become calm and destructive.,

  • JD
    26 January 2014 at 7:48 am - Reply

    @Jack your right in your comment ! When the war was on in victnam the boys and girls that was there use weed to calm down because it was war time and a lot people got killed ! But in America you can’t use it, but war time you can to kill someone ?