AS THE marijuana legalisation debate rages in the US, President Barack Obama has said he thinks cannabis use is "not very different from cigarettes" and no more dangerous than alcohol.
Speaking in an interview with the New Yorker editor David Remnick, Mr Obama said that while "it's not something I encourage", those who are caught using marijuana should not be given prison sentences.
While the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the US still classes marijuana as a "Schedule One" substance on a par with heroin or ecstasy, it has now been legalised for recreational use in two states, Colorado and Washington.
Mr Obama told the weekly magazine: "As has been well documented, I smoked pot as a kid, and I view it 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. I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol."
When pressed on whether he felt marijuana was less harmful than alcohol, the President said he agreed it was less damaging "in terms of its impact on the individual customer".