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(CNN) - Earlier this week, the ongoing debate about marijuana legalization in the United States reached a new high: President Barack Obama's White House.
"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," Obama told New Yorker Editor David Remnick. "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol."
The President is not alone in his past indulgences. According to an August Gallup poll, 38% of Americans have toked tried marijuana, 5% more than in 1985.
Obama thinks that what he called experiments in Washington State and Colorado - legalization of marijuana for recreational use, not medicinal use - should go forward.
But the President's stance is contradicted by the director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.
"The administration steadfastly opposes legalization of marijuana and other drugs because legalization would increase the availability and use of illicit drugs and pose significant health and safety risks to all Americans, particularly young people," the White House website says.
"I think like many people his age baby boomers and post baby boomers the president hasn't kept up with what's going on here," said John Walters, former director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy for the second Bush administration.
"Science over the last 15 years has shown us this is more dangerous, not less dangerous," said Walters.
"For those of us who lived through this, we had a lot of friends who got stuck, had their lives derailed, maybe they got stuck longer. Now we have research that says sustained use from adolescent onward may cause you to lose IQ points permanently, can cause other health problems," said Walters.
"The president is kind of living in a recollection that people his age have, which has not kept up with the facts, and kind of romanticizes youth," said the former drug czar.
For more of our interview with John Walters, check out the video above.
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The Lead with Jake Tapper draws not only on Tapper’s deep knowledge of politics and national issues, but also seeks to examine and advance stories across a wide range of topics that demonstrate his own curiosities and interests. Compelling headlines come from around the country and the globe, from politics to money, sports to popular culture, based on news drivers of the day.
The Lead with Jake Tapper airs weekdays at 4 p.m. ET.
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