O'BRIEN: Super Bowl teams could put marijuana laws in the spotlight

Posted: Jan. 20, 2014 2:47 pm Updated: Apr. 15, 2014 9:14 am

We will be blitzed with information about the upcoming Super Bowl for the next two weeks. It doesn't matter if you're a football fan, the Super Bowl is one of those events that crosses over the sports boundary into our everyday lives. Back in my days as a sports guy, we would routinely get calls from people -- most often they were women -- in the middle of summer wanting to know the date of the next Super Bowl. One can only assume that they were making early plans for their Super Bowl party.

This year's Super Bowl has an interesting side plot. When the Denver Broncos and Seattle Seahawks square off in Super Bowl XLVIII -- or Super Bowl 48 for you non-Romans -- it will pit teams from the only two states in the union where it's legal to buy marijuana.

That doesn't mean MetLife Stadium in New York will be the first real-life "Bud Bowl" and a haze of smoke when those Seahawks and Broncos fans hit town. After all, smoking weed in New York is still illegal.

The question is how long until buying, selling and smoking marijuana becomes legal throughout America. President Barack Obama had some interesting things to say about the drug in an interview with "The New Yorker" magazine, which was published over the weekend.

Obama told the magazine that he doesn't believe marijuana is any more dangerous than alcohol, "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer."

Unlike President Bill Clinton, who famously said he smoked marijuana but "did not inhale," Obama has never shied away from his use of the drug when he was younger. Obama was also a heavy cigarette smoker at one point.

"I view (marijuana use) as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life," Obama told the magazine. "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol."

That doesn't mean Obama is going to encourage his daughters -- or anyone else -- to fire up a joint. He said he thinks smoking marijuana "is a bad idea."

Obama doesn't like the fact that minorities are targeted by law enforcement officers and that they often receive lengthy periods of incarceration because of marijuana.

"We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing," Obama said.

While Colorado and Washington are the first two states to legalize recreational use of the drug, more surely will follow. For states desperate to find new revenue streams, legalizing marijuana and taxing the stuffing out of it may be one avenue. You'd have to think legalizing it and collecting that money would be more than fees collected on the local level, mention nothing of the savings the state will realize from not having to lodge minor offenders in county jails and state penitentiaries.

It's doubtful that marijuana will be legalized in my lifetime, but it could be one day. Just don't be counting on smoking a bowl at the Super Bowl anytime soon.


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