Obama: ‘care more about war and peace, less about marijuana’

The president said the marijuana debate 'shouldn't be young people's biggest priority' when considering his legacy

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U.S. President Obama on Monday said America’s younger generation should care more about politics and climate change, and less about legalizing marijuana.

After being asked in an interview with Vice News to comment on the topic, the president said the marijuana debate “shouldn't be young people's biggest priority" when considering his legacy.

"First of all, it shouldn't be young people's biggest priority," Obama said in the interview.

"Young people: I understand this is important to you, but as you be thinking about climate change, the economy and jobs, war and peace, maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana," Obama said.

The president has previously been open about smoking pot in high school.

Obama has long said he supports decriminalizing marijuana but not legalizing the drug. He has called for reform of the criminal justice system for disproportionately incarcerating African Americans for non-violent drug offenses like marijuana possession.

The president told Vice he believes there are "legitimate" concerns about substance abuse and marijuana.

"There is a legitimate, I think, concern about the overall effect this has on society, particularly on vulnerable parts of our society," he said.

"We may actually be able to make some progress on the decriminalization side," Obama said. "At a certain point, if enough states end up decriminalizing, the Congress may then reschedule marijuana," he said.

Rescheduling refers to reclassifying the drug as a less dangerous substance.

The Justice Department under Obama has taken a hands-off approach to enforcing a federal ban on the drug use in states such as Colorado, Washington and Alaska where recreational marijuana use is allowed.

(With Reuters)