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Obama Says Marijuana No Worse than Alcohol

FILE - Marijuana activists use a sign to call on President Barack Obama to make the drug legal.
U.S. President Barack Obama says he thinks using marijuana is less dangerous than consuming alcoholic drinks, but has told his daughters he does not advocate pot smoking.

In a wide-ranging interview with New Yorker magazine, Obama said that while he smoked marijuana as a youth, he now views it "as a bad habit and a vice." But he said smoking pot was "not very different" than the cigarette habit he engaged in through much of his adult life before quitting.

He said marijuana smoking is not as dangerous as drinking "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer." But he said it is "not something I encourage."

The United States is in the midst of a debate on the use and criminality of marijuana. National laws still call for criminal penalties for its possession, but some states allow its sale for use as a medical treatment and voters in two western states, Colorado and Washington, have approved its sale for recreational use.