WASHINGTON, Jan. 19 (UPI) -- Colorado's marijuana legalization was a significant development in the debate over pot use in the United States, President Obama said in a magazine interview.
Obama told The New Yorker he did not consider the developments in Colorado to be a "panacea," but he said it was an important step in rectifying the current situation in the United States in which poor people are often arrested on marijuana charges but middle-class and the wealthy are not.
"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," said Obama.
At the same time, the president said he disapproved of marijuana smoking and felt the law passed in Colorado allowing the sale of pot for recreational purposes was not the answer. "Those who argue that legalizing marijuana is a panacea and it solves all these social problems I think are probably overstating the case," he said.
Obama said he was concerned that legalizing marijuana nationwide would open the door to the idea that heavier drugs such as cocaine could also be legalized. "When it comes to harder drugs, the harm done to the user is profound and the social costs are profound, and you do start getting into some difficult line-drawing issues," he said.