Those in favor of legalizing marijuana hope President Obama's opinion will sway legislators. But others are questioning how young people will interpret his comments.
"A lot of people talking about it now." Buster Jones, an activist for the National Organization to Reform Marijuana Laws, is praising President Obama for his recent statements on marijuana use. "Well, pot's not as dangerous as alcohol and I appreciate the president's statement on that."
While Obama doesn't argue for legalizing pot, in a recent interview with "the New Yorker" he said - "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol." He also said that pot is less dangerous than alcohol, quote, "in terms of its impact on the individual consumer."
Jones is hoping that Obama's statements will impact legislators. "We're going to have at least 15 states that will be discussing it in 2014 and a lot of those will be on the ballot for either medical marijuana or flat out decriminalization of marijuana."
He hopes Georgia lawmakers will have a serious debate on medical marijuana this year. "I hope it gets a lot more democrats and republicans on this bill in Georgia."
But others like master addiction counselor Lynda Hammonds hope the President's statements don't impact children. "When we look at it in such a callous way then we sometimes do send the wrong message so that kids who are watching TV or hearing that, then they'll say, 'well the President said that it was ok, or that it wasn't as bad as alcohol.'"
Hammonds says no one under 21 should be drinking alcohol, or smoking marijuana. "It takes about 23, 24, 25 years old before our brains are fully developed. So anything that interferes with the growth and the natural process of the brain that would deter that, kids should stay away from."
She says the biggest drawback in smoking marijuana is that it's illegal in Georgia and can have a lasting effect on your life. "Young people sometimes think, well this is no problem and then they're found with marijuana in their car, and they decide they want to do something in the health profession, even counseling, whatever it is, then it will have an impact on their future goals."
The president acknowledged using pot when he was young, but calls that "a bad idea."
Medical marijuana is currently legal in 20 states. Lawmakers in South Georgia say they don't think the medical marijuana debate will go very far this year at the state level.