Sheriff speaks out on comment President Obama made comparing marijuana and alcohol

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - A comment President Obama made recently about marijuana isn’t sitting well with the Kern County Sheriff.

Sheriff Donny Youngblood recently returned home from a trip to Washington, D.C. where he was with sheriffs from across the country as part of a meeting for the Major Counties Sheriff’s Association.

Sheriff Youngblood told 23ABC they heard from DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart who disagreed with the president's views on marijuana.

During an interview with the New Yorker that was published last week, the president said, “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.”

“I think every police officer across the country was offended by those comments," said Sheriff Youngblood. "We don’t need another intoxicant. It doesn’t matter which one is worse, we just don’t need it and we just felt he gave approval to a generation of young kids that marijuana is okay and it’s not okay.” 

Residents at the Mission of Kern County also know just how hard it is to break a drug addiction.

"I had a lot of pain, I had a lot of worry and I used alcohol and marijuana just to keep myself as numb as possible,” said Brian Rosenblatt.

Rosenblatt is a college graduate and battled a drug and alcohol addiction for years, but has been sober at the Mission for about a year now.

But for others marijuana can also be a gateway drug.

“It's a very inexpensive drug to obtain and easy drug to obtain, and a lot of our folks started out that way,” said Carlos Baldovinos, Executive Director of the Mission of Kern County.

“Not everyone on marijuana is going to turn into a heroin addict, but I promise you every heroin addict started with marijuana,” said Sheriff Youngblood.

That’s another reason Sheriff Youngblood wasn’t happy about the president’s remarks. Sheriff Youngblood told 23ABC he respects the president, but disagreed with his statement.

“We kill so many people with alcohol and other drugs and I just don’t think we need another one.”

Youngblood also told 23ABC that the marijuana people are smoking now is very different from the marijuana people were smoking in the 1960s.

Sheriff Youngblood is the new president of the Major Counties Sheriff’s Association and will be making regular trips to Washington D.C. to meet with the nation’s leaders.

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