March 27, 2009
Posted: 01:12 AM ET
Writing by Matt Spetalnick/Reuters
Legalizing marijuana is not the kind of change President Barack Obama can believe in - - at least not as a remedy for the ailing U.S. economy.
On Thursday, Obama tackled the issue head-on, only half-jokingly, at an online townhall meeting where he noted that the idea was a favorite among the 3.6 million people who voted on more than 100,000 questions submitted on the White House website.
"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 and job creation," he said to laughter at the White House event.
"And I don't know what this says about the online audience," Obama said, tongue-in-cheek. "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 to grow our economy," he said before moving back to a more sober discussion of unemployment and healthcare reform.
"Thank you for clearing that up," said Jared Bernstein, Vice President Joe Biden's chief economist, who was acting as moderator.
Many of the questioners suggested that regulating the marijuana industry could yield large tax revenues.
From around the web