According to President Obama, marijuana legalization should not be a priority for young American voters because there are more important issues on which to focus.
The legalization of marijuana was among the topics of conversation discussed by President Obama during a recent interview with Shane Smith of VICE. During the conversation, President Obama addressed young voters in the United States,
“Let’s put it in perspective. Young people, I understand this is important to you, but you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace. Maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana.”
In regards to decriminalizing marijuana, however, President Obama’s opinion was more hopeful. He reported,
“You’re starting to see not just liberal Democrats, but also some very conservative Republicans recognize [prohibition] doesn’t make sense, including sort of the libertarian wing of the Republican Party.”
“They see the money and how costly it is to incarcerate. So, we may actually be able to make some progress on the decriminalization side.”
This Vice interview caught the attention of ABC’s The View, and the co-hosts’ opinions on the issue were not aligned.
Two of the co-hosts, Rosie Perez and Whoopi Goldberg, disagreed with the way President Obama spoke about young Americans.
Rosie Perez has been with the show since last year, and believes that the legalization of marijuana is an economic issue that deserves attention. In response to President Obama’s statements, Perez said,
“I thought that he didn’t give a lot of young people enough credit in regards to their knowledge about the legalization around marijuana because it does include the economics. And I think that it’s a very important issue because if you look at the states that have legalized it, their economy is booming.
“There are other businesses surrounding the legalization of marijuana. It’s the same thing with prohibition with alcohol… I do agree with you that young people should be concerned with other issues, but that is also an important issue.”
Whoopi Goldberg, a member of the show since 2007, agreed with her Perez, and expressed her disapproval of the current classification of cannabis as a Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. In response to President Obama’s position on marijuana legalization, Goldberg contended,
“I think young people are concerned about a lot of things, but this is something that they’re aware of that is being misrepresented because it’s a Schedule I drug, which a Schedule I drug means there is no reason for it to exist, which is not true, because people have been using hemp and marijuana for centuries for all kinds of things.”
Unlike her co-hosts, former Bush administration director of communications, Nicole Wallace, agreed with President Obama. Wallace admitted that she thinks Obama is correct, and believes that he was making a different point. During the show Wallace explained,
“Young people will have no political power in this country if they only vote on pot. And I think Obama is just speaking to the political reality of this, and he’s right.”
However, Wallace likely would not agree that marijuana should remain a Schedule I drug, as she admitted that cannabis at least does provide medicinal value.
No matter what the hosts’ opinions on the matter may be, the issue of marijuana prohibition continues to become more widely discussed each time it is covered on televisions shows such as the View.