President Obama says "we've got bigger fish to fry" when it comes to weighing whether or not to prosecute pot users in states where marijuana has essentially been legalized.
In a Barbara Walters interview to air on ABC's 20/20 tonight, the president addresses the full legalization of weed in Washington and Colorado. But his words might also apply to places like Los Angeles, the medical marijuana capital of America.
Pot decriminalization advocates were not entirely impressed.
In a statement sent to the Weekly and other outlets, Marijuana Majority chairman Tom Angell says that it's one thing to talk about it but another to be about it.
Federal authorities, for example, have been cracking down on dispensaries in downtown and Eagle Rock even though they could be legal under state law.
Obama says he doesn't have the power to not enforce congressional law, though marijuana advocates have argued that he does have executive authority to prevent this.
The president's statement about not targeting individual marijuana users doesn't mark a shift in policy. The federal government rarely goes after individual users. The real question is whether the Obama administration will try to prevent voter-approved marijuana sales systems from being enacted or if they will force individual users to buy marijuana from the black market, where much of the profits go to cartels and gangs that kill people.
The president told Walters this:
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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.
Angell came away with a little bit of hope:
One positive thing to take away from this interview is that the president couched his opposition to marijuana legalization by saying he doesn't support it 'at this point.' That could indicate his position on this issue may 'evolve' to catch up with the majority of voters who now support letting states set their own marijuana laws, not unlike how his position on marriage equality 'evolved' as it became clear the what direction the public was moving in.