President Barack Obama says that the federal government should not make going after marijuana users in states that have legalized the drug a “top priority.”
During an interview with ABC’s Barbara Walters that will air on Friday, the president indicated that federal law enforcement officials would take the same approach to Washington and Colorado after they legalized weed for recreational use that had been taken in other states which had laws allowing medicinal marijuana.
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama explained. “It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal.”
But the president also said that he did not support marijuana legalization “at this point.”
“This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” he said. “I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. And so what we’re going to need to have is a conversation about, How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it’s legal?”
Obama said that he advised his daughters not to “make the same mistakes I made” with his heavy marijuana use growing up in Hawaii.
Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday said that the Justice Department was still considering the appropriate response to legalization in Washington and Colorado.
“We are looking at those two initiatives those two statutes and trying to determine exactly how we will respond and expect we will be doing so relatively quickly,” he insisted. “There are a number of issues that have to be considered among them the impact that drug usage has on young people, we have treaty obligations with nations outside the United States, there are a whole variety of things that have to go into the determination that we are in the process of making.”
Watch this video from ABC’s Good Morning America, broadcast Dec. 14, 2012.