Surprise! Obama Not Intent on Fighting I-502 or Chasing Pot Smokers
"We've got bigger fish to fry."
That was President Obama's recent comment during a television interview with Barbara Walters when asked about Washington and Colorado's recent legalization of marijuana. Obama told Walters:
"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,"
However this does not really come as a surprise because if there's one area where Obama has been consistent is drugs. For years, and since becoming president, his views on drugs-including marijuana-have remain consistent. Obama says he is not condoning drug use, but believes pursuing marijuana cases detracts from the larger problems created by cocaine, heroin, meth and other more "dangerous" drugs. Many had wondered what federal reaction would be after I-502 was passed in Washington and a similar measure in Colorado. The U.S. Attorneys General released several statements repeating the drug is still illegal federally, but until this week, no comment from the President.
Marijuana remains illegal by federal law, and some observers say under Obama the feds have actually been more aggressive in pursuing pot related cases than was his predecessor George Bush. Obama also claims limited government resources do not allow, however, an increase in federal marijuana investigations and convictions.
This does come as a surprise because while under Obama the federal government has become far more intrusive, and while federal pot cases have increased, he appears to be conceding to the states on this one. We will continue to listen, and watch.