JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – While federal law still places marijuana in the same category as heroin, ecstasy and psychedelic mushrooms, President Barack Obama to New Yorker magazine he believes pot is no more dangerous than alcohol.
Obama said he still viewed smoking pot negatively -- but that on a whole, the drug is not the social ill that it's been viewed as.
His remarks are being closely watched in Florida as supporters of medical marijuana hope to get a constitutional amendment legalizing medicinal use of cannibals onto the 2014 ballot.
As of Jan. 15, United for Care reported they had collected over 1.1 million signatures in support of adding medical marijuana to the 2014 ballot, well more than the 683,149 signatures are required. So far, 470,056 of those signatures have been verified by election officials.
One local doctor says both alcohol and marijuana can have negative impacts on the body, but with marijuana, there can be health benefits beyond what alcohol can cause.
"I think that the person who drinks alcohol would be doing more detrimental effects to their body then one that would be smoking, but it depends on how much you drink on a daily basis, how regularly, and marijuana is the same," Dr. Harold Laski said.
Laski says there are risks that come with both substances, but the risks of alcohol are more long-term.
- Marijuana has correlated short-term effects like increased pulse, high blood pressure, bronchitis and difficulty breathing.
- Alcohol can cause long-term damage to the organs, especially the liver -- and can also lead to mental problems.
Dr. Laski says a negative effect of both substances is an increase in fatal accidents after using the substances.
Even though the president told a reporter he thinks marijuana is less damaging than alcohol, he also says: "It's not something I encourage, and I've told my daughters I think it's a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy."
"The problem we have as physicians, I think, is weighing the benefits and risks," Laski said. "Marijuana has been shown to be beneficial in many diseases from mental health to glaucoma. There are many studies that show it, many studies refute, so it's hard to get an absolute.
Eighteen states, along with the District of Columbia, allow some legal marijuana sales and use for medicinal purposes Two others states, Colorado and Washington, have legalized recreational use. of marijuana.