Obama won’t pursue marijuana arrests in CO & WA

After Colorado and Washington legalized marijuana in November, many wondered how the Obama administration would react.

Those working on legalization said that they believed the Obama administration would probably leave those states alone. In an interview with Barbara Waters, it sounds like that will be the case. In light of the free ride for HSBC with laundering money for drug cartels, leaving people alone is the least the administration could do.

This is a big step for legalization efforts around the US.

In a Barbara Walters interview airing Friday on ABC, Obama was asked whether he supports making pot legal.

“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.”

But the president said he won’t pursue the issue in the two states where voters legalized the use of marijuana in the November elections. Marijuana remains illegal under federal law.

“… 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.”

On a related note, Senator Leahy is seeking clarification on how to deal with states that choose to legalize marijuana. As a country, we have too many important issues to be bother with something that voters find perfectly acceptable and legal.

Marijuana

Marijuana via Shutterstock

Leahy pressed the drug control office, which is part of the White House, on how it intends “to prioritize federal resources” in light of the new state laws and whether the administration can guarantee that it will not prosecute state officials who are involved in the licensing process.

“What assurance can and will the administration give to state officials involved in the licensing of marijuana retailers that they will not face federal criminal penalties for carrying out duties assigned to them under state law?” Leahy wrote.

Leahy also said Thursday that he will call a Judiciary Committee hearing early next year on those questions and others involving marijuana policy.


An American in Paris, France. BA in History & Political Science from Ohio State. Provided consulting services to US software startups, launching new business overseas that have both IPO’d and sold to well-known global software companies. Currently launching a new cloud-based startup. Full bio here.

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15 Responses to “Obama won’t pursue marijuana arrests in CO & WA”

  1. ezpz says:

    Excellent! Thank you.

  2. ronbo says:

    Words are wothless in this administration. I watch what they actually do. His words are fantastic; but, his actions are far to the right of Richard M. Nixon.

    Obama Administration: US Forces Can Assassinate Americans
    http://www.democracynow.org/2010/2/9/obama_administrati

    NYT: Obama Administration Pressuring NY AG To Accept Bank Settlement Instead Of Prosecuting
    http://crooksandliars.com/susie-madrak/nyt-obama-admini

    Feds threaten crackdown if medical-pot makeover becomes law
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2014777

    White House visitor logs riddled with holes
    http://www.iwatchnews.org/2011/04/13/4115/white-house-v

    Obama’s John Yoo Moment– Cherry Picking Lawyers
    http://www.opednews.com/articles/Obama-s-John-Yoo-Momen

    Activists cry foul over FBI probe – The Washington Post
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/activists-cry-fo

    Emails Show White House Promotes Genetically Engineered Crops in Wildlife Refuges |
    http://www.truth-out.org/emails-show-white-house-promot

    Dems: Obama Broke Pledge to Force Banks to Help Homeowners
    http://www.propublica.org/article/dems-obama-broke-pled

    Among Obama’s tough budget cuts: money to help needy pay for heat
    http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/Politics/2011/0210/Among-O

    Labor unions uneasy as OSHA withdraws proposed rules
    http://thehill.com/business-a-lobbying/141121-labor-une

    Justice Department seeks to have all web surfing tracked
    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/01/25/justice-departmen… /

    Treasury Blocks Legal Aid for Homeowners Facing Foreclosure | The Nation
    http://www.thenation.com/blog/156973/treasury-blocks-le

    US to lift ban on new cases for Guantanamo detainees
    http://articles.boston.com/2011-01-20/news/29343360_1_c

    Obama administration keeps new policy on Miranda secret
    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2011/01/19/

    Drug Makers Win Administration Support in Price Dispute
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/10/us/politics/10drug.ht

    Counterinsurgency Outsourcing: America’s New Mercenaries in Afghanistan, Middle East, Africa
    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2010/12/15/counte

    Obama administration readies indefinite detention order for Guantanamo detainees
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20

    War Room: Contrary to public statements, Obama admin fueled conflict in Yemen
    http://www.salon.com/news/politics/war_room/2010/12/09/

    A Reversal on End-of-Life Planning Under Medicare
    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/01/05/health/policy/05healt

    Obama and GOPers Worked Together to Kill Bush Torture Probe
    http://motherjones.com/politics/2010/12/wikileaks-cable

    U.S. drops demand for Israeli settlement freeze
    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40554057/ns/world_news-mide… /

    Big Polluters Freed from Environmental Oversight by Stimulus
    http://www.iwatchnews.org/2010/11/29/2289/big-polluters

    Obama waiver allows U.S. aid to 4 countries using child soldiers
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20

    The Deal with the Hospital Industry to Kill the Public Option
    http://news.firedoglake.com/2010/10/05/the-deal-with-th… /

    Blackwater Wins Piece of $10 Billion Mercenary Deal
    http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2010/10/exclusive-black… /

    Obama invokes ‘state secrets’ claim to dismiss suit against targeting of U.S. citizen al-Aulaqi
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20

    Despite Fresh Rhetoric About Saving U.S. Manufacturing, Obama Is Quietly Pushing Failed Bush Trade Policies
    http://www.alternet.org/economy/147957/despite_fresh_rh

    Administration backs utilities in climate case
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20

    DOJ gags scientists studying BP disaster.
    http://thinkprogress.org/politics/2010/08/10/112945/sci… /

    US Still Holds Detainee Pentagon Wanted Freed in 2004
    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/08/18-2

    Banks to benefit most from White House program to help fight foreclosures
    http://thehill.com/blogs/on-the-money/banking-financial

    White House proposal would ease FBI access to records of Internet activity
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20

    White House Mulling Business Group’s Regulatory Hit List
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/07/15/white-house-mu

    Obama Hires Fmr. Wellpoint Exec to Implement Health Care Law
    http://www.openleft.com/diary/19449/obama-hires-fmr-wel

    Obama – Scientists expected Obama administration to be friendlier – Los Angeles Times
    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jul/10/nation/la-na-sc

    Across From White House, Coffee With Lobbyists
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/25/us/politics/25caribou

    Administration Hardens Stance Against Leaks to Press – NYTimes.com
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/12/us/politics/12leak.ht

    U.S. Is Said to Expand Secret Actions in Mideast
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/25/world/25military.html

    Obama administration backs private twist to public housing
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20

    Lawsuit to Challenge Salazar’s Wholesale Disregard of Marine Mammal Protection Laws in Gulf of Mexic
    http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2010/05/14-1

    NOAA Warned Interior It Was Underestimating Threat Of Serious Spill
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/05/03/noaa-warned-in

    Feds on GMO Labeling: Don’t Tell, Don’t Ask – Barry Estabrook
    http://www.theatlantic.com/life/archive/2010/04/feds-on… /

    New rules on terror custody being drafted
    http://articles.latimes.com/2010/apr/15/nation/la-na-ob

    Afghans ‘abused at secret prison’ at Bagram airbase
    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/8621973.stm

    Obama administration backs telecom immunity
    http://articles.sfgate.com/2009-02-27/bay-area/17190307

    Obama Packs Debt Commission with Social Security Looters
    http://www.alternet.org/story/146183/obama_packs_debt_c

    Pesticide Lobbyist Gets Posted as Chief Agricultural Negotiator |
    http://www.commondreams.org/view/2010/03/30-9

    Environmentalists Blast Obama Mining Reversal
    http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2010/04/02/national/main

    More Obama DOJ attacks on whistle-blowers
    http://www.salon.com/news/opinion/glenn_greenwald/2010/

  3. We are not quite ready to legalize marijuana. A few thousand peasants need to be chased off their land near the international border and another 50-60 thousand Mexicans need to be murdered. After we redistribute the land to our campaign contributors then we can seriously think about legalizing marijuana.

  4. It is only necessary to make war with five things;
    with the maladies of the body, the ignorances of the mind, with the
    passions of the body, with the seditions of the city and the discords of
    families.

  5. masaccio says:

    My brother was a world-class scientist who did a mountain of work on the pain-killing properties of marijuana, identifying both the active analgesic cannabinoids and the sites where they act. It’s too bad Congress doesn’t have expertise in this area, I’m sure my brother’s colleagues would be happy tho help out.

  6. FunMe says:

    Semi OT … every time I see you little dog, I want to hug you tight. What a cutie pie!

  7. ezpz says:

    If you dig a little deeper, he also said this:

    “This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama 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?”

    However, Jon Walker writes:

    “With 99 percent of federal laws this would be the case, but the Controlled Substance Act is fairly unique. The law explicitly gives the executive branch the right to change the legal status of any drug without Congressional involvement. If the administration, after examining the latest scientific research, determines that cannabis shouldn’t be Schedule I it has the power to move it to a lower schedule, which would make medical marijuana legal under federal law, or even unschedule it all together, which would effectively legalize it.”

    http://justsaynow.firedoglake.com/2012/12/14/obama-doesnt-need-congress-to-change-federal-law-regarding-marijuana/

  8. karmanot says:

    “Obama’s statement is pretty-much meaningless.” As always!

  9. karmanot says:

    “if someone has enough.” Bingo! Confiscation laws are very lucrative.

  10. karmanot says:

    Isn’t that special. Obonger is out of the weeds.

  11. A reader in Colorado says:

    Yep.

  12. BeccaM says:

    The Feds haven’t gone after medical marijuana users either.

    What they have done is gone after the licensed growers and dispensaries, making it difficult or impossible for patients to receive the medicine prescribed to them. In truth, they haven’t really cared much about simple possession, either. What they do prosecute is if someone has enough so they can assert there was intent to sell it.

    Need a federal license or permit that requires drug testing and you use MJ (medically or recreationally)? You won’t get it. Those licensed state dispensaries and distributors? They’ll have to run a 100% cash-only operation because the feds won’t let them accept credit cards and will seize any bank accounts the dispensary opens. They’ll also likely seize any property and vehicles belonging to the owners. The IRS will probably audit and hassle them endlessly, too.

    This statement, as Count Ulster says, from Obama is meaningless and in no way represents a change in gov’t policy.

  13. Naja pallida says:

    Did anyone bother to pass the message down to the DEA and FBI offices in those states? When the head doesn’t know what the hands and feet are doing, it doesn’t really help anything. The President can say he and the “Justice” Department won’t do anything, but that doesn’t stop other federal agencies from continuing on as if nothing changed.

  14. Count Ulster says:

    My guess is, the administration will crack down hard on growers and distributors in those two states. The feds don’t arrest people for possession, so Obama’s statement is pretty-much meaningless.

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