President Obama stopped by Colorado in July, and while he was there, he turned down one resident’s unique offer: a puff of legal weed.
Actually, it wasn’t the only time during his visit that Coloradans asked Obama to toke with them. But unlike other offers, this one was caught on camera.
The president stopped by a Denver bar during his July 8 visit. Gov. John Hickenlooper, who once owned the bar, accompanied him.
While they were there, at least one local offered to buy Obama a beer, though the president declined. Later, another patron upped the ante and offered to provide Obama with a hit of weed.
History with MJ Doesn’t Sway President
“Do you want to hit this?” the young man asked the president.
Obama declined again, laughing off the offer. The man posted the exchange on Instagram, where it quickly garnered the attention of national media.
This is apparently the new reality in America: Stoners are asking the president to join them. And when he declines, he does so politely, with humor, without lecture, without alerting the Secret Service – a sure sign the times have changed dramatically.
Of course, Obama has a history with pot. He smoked a lot of it as a teenager, joining an informal club of tokers, known as the “Choom Gang,” that experimented with innovative ways to get stoned.
The president isn’t exactly proud of that fact. He has said he regrets his “bad choices” and wasn’t aware at the time of “the harm [weed] could do.”
But he has taken relatively supportive policy positions when it comes to cannabis reform. Earlier this year, Obama told The New Yorker that pot is “no more dangerous” than alcohol.
Administration Takes Hands-Off Approach to Legal Weed
His administration has promised not to interfere with legal pot as long as states enforce several federal priorities, such as preventing interstate trafficking. That policy was announced last August, though the DEA and numerous federal prosecutors continue to target cannabis businesses that are legal under state law.
Marijuana remains strictly illegal under federal anti-drug statutes, regardless of its legality under state laws. The drug is listed under Schedule 1 of the Controlled Substances Act, a category reserved for the most dangerous and addictive illicit substances.
To reform federal law, Congress or the DEA must first move weed to a less restrictive schedule. Obama has said he is willing to work with lawmakers to do so, but has begged off suggestions that he order the DEA to change the listing on its own.
Obama had other encounters with the new marijuana culture in Colorado. As his motorcade traversed Denver streets, a man held up a sign reading “Free weed 4 Obama.” A similar message was posted outside a pot shop along the route. The motorcade passed both offers without stopping.