Obama Addresses CO and WA Marijuana Laws

In an interview airing today with Barbara Walters, President Obama says his administration will not interfere with the recently passed marijuana laws in Colorado or Washington legalizing recreational marijuana use. Walters asks him if he supports marijuana legalization. His response:

"I wouldn't go that far," Obama replied. "But what I think is that, at this point, Washington and Colorado, you've seen the voters speak on this issue."

"... as it is, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions," Obama said. "It does not make sense, from a prioritization point of view, for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law, that's legal."

This may be the most-watched Barbara Walters interview ever. It airs tonight on 20/20. You can watch Obama's answer here.

Does this mean DOJ will not challenge the laws' provisions on licensing and sales?

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    Everything important is omitted (5.00 / 3) (#1)
    by Peter G on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 12:49:39 PM EST
    from that weaselly answer. I want to hear from Holder on this.

    Holder said the other day (none / 0) (#2)
    by Jeralyn on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 12:52:35 PM EST
    DOJ is preparing a response.

    100% right. (none / 0) (#4)
    by Abdul Abulbul Amir on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 12:58:59 PM EST

    It means nothing to "not interfere with the state laws."  It means nothing that enforcing federal law in those states is not his "highest priority."



    This says nothing about whether the (5.00 / 2) (#3)
    by caseyOR on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 12:57:05 PM EST
    feds will go after growers of dealers. Or if the feds will try to stop the states from licensing sellers and collecting taxes on marijuana sales.

    No need to go after recreational users if you are jailing the sellers and growers.

    Sounds familiar (5.00 / 1) (#5)
    by MO Blue on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 01:00:53 PM EST
    WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration will not seek to arrest medical marijuana users and suppliers as long as they conform to state laws, under new policy guidelines to be sent to federal prosecutors Monday.

    Two Justice Department officials described the new policy to The Associated Press, saying prosecutors will be told it is not a good use of their time to arrest people who use or provide medical marijuana in strict compliance with state laws. 10/19/2009

    Sacramento, CA: United States Deputy Attorney General James Cole, along with the four US Attorneys from California, publicly announced their intention Friday to escalate federal efforts targeting the state's medical cannabis dispensaries and providers.

    These efforts include the increased use of civil forfeiture proceedings against dispensary owners and their landlords, officials stated.

    The DOJ announcement came just days after the Internal Revenue Service determined that marijuana dispensaries can no longer claim standard business expenses such as payroll, security or rent on their federally filed tax returns.

    The administration's recent actions conflict with the President's pledge to cease utilizing "Justice Department resources to try and circumvent state laws on this issue." October, 2011

    Good One Barry (5.00 / 1) (#6)
    by ScottW714 on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 01:07:39 PM EST
    Unless he has changed policy very recently, that is complete BS, it was legal before November in many states, and yet the DEA raided/raids dispensaries.

    Sep. 25 2012

    Federal authorities today moved to shut down all marijuana dispensaries in the downtown area and Eagle Rock as well as one in the city of Huntington Park.

    The move is part of an ongoing effort by the feds to put an end to Southern California's retail pot business, which the U.S. government does not recognize as legit despite the Golden State's medical marijuana laws.

    Federal authorities sent warning letters -- which tell operators to shut down -- to 68 stores.

    Jun. 6 2012

    Marijuana Crackdown on 36 L.A. County Pot Shops by Feds

    MARCH 22, 2008

    "What I'm not going to be doing is using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws on this issue simply because I want folks to be investigating violent crimes and potential terrorism. We've got a lot of things for our law enforcement officers to deal with."
    -- Mail Tribune of Oregon

    Obama's War on Pot
    - Rolling Stone Magazine

    If Obama is specifically addressing recreational users, more BS, the Fed has never went after recessional users, at least in my life time.  I can't imagine the infrastructure that supplies these recreational users will get a pass if Medical Marijuana dispensaries haven't.

    Meanwhile, back in reality... (5.00 / 2) (#7)
    by Mr Natural on Fri Dec 14, 2012 at 04:03:42 PM EST
    ... Obama's DOJ gives one of the largest criminal enterprises in the world, HSBC, a pass for laundering billions of dollars in drug money, completely foregoing criminal charges in favor of a $1.9 Billion dollar settlement.

    As usual, well connected criminals get a free pass.  Not free, you protest.  Get real.  It's only money.