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Obama talks football, health and marijuana in New Yorker interview

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In an article published online in advance Monday in The New Yorker Magazine, President Obama gives his take on everything from politics to health issues, including marijuana and the risks of football injuries like concussions and brain damage.

In regard to professional football players taking such risks, Obama said that they “know what they’re buying into” in that they know the potential health injuries they face.

“At this point, there’s a little bit of caveat emptor,” Obama said. “These guys, they know what they’re doing. They know what they’re buying into. It is no longer a secret. It’s sort of the feeling I have about smokers, you know?”

When the President was asked if he felt any ambivalence about following football, he responded that he did not, but he also added, “I would not let my son play pro football.”

As for his efforts to make health insurance under Obamacare available to all Americans, as well as his push to expand Medicaid, he defended himself against conservatives who think his efforts to leave the expansion of Medicaid up to the states’ somehow means he’s just “this power-hungry guy in Washington” who’s out to demolish states’ rights.

As Obama pointed out, however, leaving the expansion of Medicaid up to the states has more to do with the nation, as a whole, also taking care of its poor because, as the President said, “we are one country and I think it is going to be important for the entire country to make sure that poor folks in Mississippi and not just Massachusetts are healthy.”

When the topic turned to legalizing marijuana, Obama said that it raises “some difficult line-drawing issues” and that he’s concerned that the rates for pot arrests are higher for the poor and certain ethnic groups.

“Middle-class kids don’t get locked up for smoking pot, and poor kids do,” he said. “And African-American kids and Latino kids are more likely to be poor and less likely to have the resources and the support to avoid unduly harsh penalties."

With respect to the legalization of marijuana, Obama finds it to be an issue that seemingly leaves him on the fence:

“If marijuana is fully legalized and at some point folks say, ‘Well, we can come up with a negotiated dose of cocaine that we can show is not any more harmful than vodka,’ are we open to that? If somebody says, ‘We’ve got a finely calibrated dose of meth, it isn’t going to kill you or rot your teeth,’ are we O.K. with that?”

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