Obama addresses marijuana questions in online town hall

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Updated 12:32 p.m. with text from White House transcript.

Among the 13,728 questions submitted to the White House’s open call for questions for President Obama to address during his online town hall, more than a few of the most popular were about legalizing marijuana -- a topic that seems to come up frequently whenever politicians poll the Web public for questions.


In fact, the top six questions in the popular ‘Budget’ category, as well as top questions in the ‘Health Care Reform’ and ‘Green Jobs’ categories addressed pot and drug legalization.

Though some of us expected Obama to sidestep the politically sensitive topic, he chose instead to take it head on. Between questions from Vice President Joe Biden‘s chief economist, Jared Bernstein, Obama went out of his way to say the following:

Can I just interrupt, Jared, before you ask the next question, just to say that we -- we took votes about which questions were going to be asked and I think 3 million people voted or -- DR. BERNSTEIN: Three point five million. THE PRESIDENT: Three point five million people voted. I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy -- (laughter) -- and job creation. And I don’t know what this says about the online audience -- (laughter) -- but I just want -- I don’t want people to think that -- this was a fairly popular question; we want to make sure that it was answered. The answer is, no, I don’t think that is a good strategy -- (laughter) -- to grow our economy. (Applause.)

-- David Sarno