President Barack Obama said in an interview aired Thursday that the country was in the midst of a more “productive” and “smarter” conversation about the drug war.

In a sit-down with David Simon, the creator of HBO’s “The Wire,” Mr. Obama said efforts to change attitudes and laws regarding drug use and mass incarceration would be a long-term affair.

“If we can start down this path to a more productive way of thinking about drugs and its intersection with law enforcement, 20 years from now we can say to ourselves, maybe we got a little smarter. We didn’t get here overnight, we’re not going to get out of it overnight,” Mr. Obama said. The pre-taped conversation was first shown at the Bipartisan Criminal Justice Summit before being posted online.

Mr. Obama described himself as a “huge fan” of the critically acclaimed HBO show, which depicted the effects of drug prohibition on all segments of life in a fictionalized Baltimore.

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