Obama: Pot Shouldn't Be Young People's Top Priority

VICE co-founder Shane Smith interviews president on marijuana, foreign policy
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 17, 2015 2:54 PM CDT

President Barack Obama sat down with VICE co-founder Shane Smith, and the two jawed about issues of the day based on questions sent in after a VICE online query—Smith says "the Internet blew up" after VICE posted its request. Highlights from the interview (which Politico notes was posted at 4:20pm yesterday), or you can watch in the gallery:

  • On climate change: The president mentions goals such as doubling fuel-efficiency standards, upping clean-energy production, and making appliances more efficient. "If I'm able to do all those things now, when I'm done, we're still going to have a heck of a problem," he says. "But we will have made enough progress that the next president and the next generations can start building on it." And to snowball-hurling detractors like Sen. Jim Inhofe? "That's disturbing," Obama says. "I guarantee you that the Republican party will have to change its approach to climate change, because voters will insist upon it."

  • On an Iran nuclear deal: How does the president feel about the 47 senators who sent their own letter to Iran? "I'm embarrassed for them," he says. "I think it's entirely legitimate for my friends in the Senate who signed that letter to ask very hard questions. … [But] this is a good example, I think, of where the state of our politics … leads Republicans to be more worried about a Tea Party primary than they are about what ordinary folks are thinking. It damages the country, it damages our standing, it's not productive."
  • On pot: According to Smith, the "No. 1 question from everyone on the Internet": How does the president feel about marijuana legalization? While Obama discusses what he thinks is a currently "skewed" criminal justice system with too-long prison terms for nonviolent drug offenders, costly state incarceration programs, and the "terrible effect on many communities," pot shouldn't be Generation Y's first priority: "Young people, I understand this is important to you, but you know, you should be thinking about climate change, the economy, jobs, war and peace. Maybe way at the bottom you should be thinking about marijuana."
(Sadly, the president didn't cap the interview by reading mean tweets about himself.)

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