WASHINGTON — Pot smokers and law enforcement agents in Washington state saw the first reaction Thursday from President Obama on the legalization of marijuana
Obama told ABC News’ Barabara Walters that recreational users of marijuana in Washington and Colorado were not a “top priority” for federal law enforcement officials, saying the government had “bigger fish to fry.”
“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,” Obama said.
In November, both Washington state and Colorado passed laws legalizing the recreational use of marijuana. However, the drug still remains a Federally Controlled Substance and a Schedule I drug. Schedule I drugs have no accepted medical value in the United States and are deemed to have a high potential for abuse. It is illegal to manufacture, distribute, dispense or hold the drug.
Obama said limited government resources restrict the federal government’s ability to go after marijuana users in states which have made pot legal. However, he said the situation was a gray area, since the drug is still banned by Congress.
“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… 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 told ABC News he does not support the widespread legalization of marijuana. It is widely known that Obama smoked pot in teenage years, but told ABC News he regretted ever doing that.
“There are a bunch of things I did that I regret when I was a kid,” he said.