Video: Barack Obama says targeting recreational marijuana users not a priority, but....

barack obama barbara walters.jpg
Video below.
In teasing her interview tonight with President Barack Obama on 20/20 (see a preview below), Barbara Walters naturally starts with...pot. But while the headline statement involves Obama's assurance that the federal government has larger priorities than to go after recreational marijuana users in Colorado and Washington state, he doesn't give many other hints about federal action -- other than to say he's not ready to advocate for widespread legalization.

Regarding legalization, Obama says he's against it "at this point." But neither does it make sense to him to make expend lots of resources going after a Coloradan with an ounce of weed, saying, "We've got bigger fish to fry."

barack obama and barbara walters large.jpg
Pete Souza
A White House photo of Obama's sit-down with Walters.
Obama adds that finding a balance between the new measures in Colorado and Washington and current federal policy is "a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law. 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?"

None of these observations is new, and Obama reportedly gives no hints about which way Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department are leaning when it comes to what's characterized as an ongoing review.

"There are a number of issues that have to be considered, among them the impact that drug usage has on young people, [and] we have treaty obligations with nations outside the United States," he says.

When asked about his own marijuana usage during his youth, he says, "There are a bunch of things I did that I regret when I was a kid. My attitude is, substance abuse generally is not good for our kids, not good for our society.... I want to discourage drug use," including by his own daughters.

That may not sound like much of an endorsement, but Amendment 64 proponent and Marijuana Policy Project Mason Tvert (featured earlier today in a post about a petition aimed at Vice President Joe Biden) sees some positives in the quotes released thus far. Look below to see a preview of the interview, followed by Tvert's release.

Mason Tvert release:

Obama Says Going After Marijuana Users Will Not Be a Priority in States That Vote to Make It Legal Amendment 64 proponents welcome the president's call for a "conversation" about reconciling state and federal marijuana laws

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- In an interview released today, President Obama said that going after marijuana consumers will not be a priority of the federal government in states such as Colorado and Washington, where voters approved ballot measures this November making marijuana legal for adults. He also highlighted the need for a conversation about how to reconcile state and federal marijuana laws.

Marijuana officially became legal in Colorado on Monday after Gov. John Hickenlooper signed the voter-approved initiative into law. The measure adopted by voters in Washington went into effect last week. The initiatives also direct the legislatures of both states to create regulations in order to establish a legal market for businesses to cultivate and sell marijuana to adults.

Statement from Mason Tvert, an official proponent of Amendment 64 who served as co-director of the campaign in support of the measure:

"President Obama acknowledged that arresting marijuana users should not be a priority of the federal government. The question that remains is whether these consumers should purchase marijuana in state-regulated, taxpaying businesses, or from cartels and gangs in the underground market.

"Colorado voters made it quite clear that they prefer marijuana be sold in a regulated market. Our state and federal government must now determine how to work together to advance such a state-based system without undermining legitimate federal interests. We are glad to hear President Obama is ready for that conversation and we look forward to having it."

More from our Marijuana archive: "Marijuana petition asks Joe Biden not to push for crackdown on Colorado, Washington."

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69 comments
Lyria Lotjonen
Lyria Lotjonen

I think he means what he says about not going after the people who, under Colorado's Amendment 64, partake of marijuana responsibly and legally. Taking marijuana across state lines or international borders and drug enforcement agreements with other nations, namely Canada and Mexico, are different matters entirely and under the jurisdiction of the federal government. Plus, Barack Obama is trusted with trying to do the will of the American people and some are opposed to legalization. Though I'm for legalization, I understand that our President can't completely ignore the voices of Americans who are opposed. I do believe there will be a point when marijuana prohibition will end, however, and believe that Colorado and Washington may serve as testing grounds.

Wayne Lee DeNucci
Wayne Lee DeNucci

It seams to me everytime he gets the question he back pedals i dont think he really knows whats going to happen

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

The Feds have never targeted individual users -- medical or recreational.

Fed Policy remains the same about targeting COMMERCIAL Sales, Production and Distribution.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

Maybe ABC will tell us when we can watch the coverage they promised, since the Columbined their coverage last night.

Juan_Leg
Juan_Leg

I hope to someday 'burn one' w/ the Pres .

He'd need to come here of course. We have 

the BEST !

Peyton & KILLER BUD !

GREAT TIME TO BE IN DENVER !!!

tutonehcc
tutonehcc topcommenter

This is excellent that Obama has given the big green thumbs up and Gov Hickenlooper signed it all into law.  Contemporary thought and previous experience would only allow one to think that large grows, distribution hubs, and smoke lounges are just around the corner.  Quality will be unpredictable, but fine grown mountains organic cannabis will always hold it's price.  All of the tax money is going to be awesome for the children.  Time to get high and contemplate new business models in our Great State of Pot!

Pete
Pete

As far as I can tell, the home grower is the only clear winner on A64.  Grow your own and enjoy it.  Nobody is going to bother you over 3 plants.  Not making money off the plant is a good thing.  Not paying going rates for great weed is even better.  Watching it grow...priceless.  

trichometrist
trichometrist

Oh here we go ! secret messages , child phsycoligy 101Whatever POTUS says the Rep. vote against , so Obama saysNo to legalization , rep. say yesnicely spun!Back to cannabis : Hey POTUS , had you been arrested as a youth for maryj do you think you would have made it to law school?Grow a pair , tell the Fat White repubs to back up , youre running shit now!Blacks were promised 40 acres and mule all they got were prisons!At least the indians got land and Gambling rights as Income.

Matt_Brown
Matt_Brown

It seems to me the President is shifting the onus onto Congress. "Until Congress acts..." Perhaps this is subtle messaging intended to shift the expectation towards a Congressional fix that the Executive Branch can live with and quietly enforce.

I don't think Obama wants to be known as "The President who legalized marijuana", but perhaps he has chosen to live with the title "The President who let Congress shift marijuana policy to the states."

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

Notice that he conflated "drug use" and "drug abuse" in his statement. Undoubtedly, it's an effect of the way people think about something that's illegal. If he were talking about another drug...say...vicodin, which is much more of a threat to normalcy, would he say it the same way?

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

He wasn't interested in arresting cannabis patients either, but he didn't seem to have any problem with breaking into dispensaries and taking everything. I'd say he's keeping his "options open."

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

You obviously don't understand what he means by users. Youy smoke in your house they don't care. You open any kind of retail and make profits and they will be here to shut it down Just wait you will see I am right.

tutonehcc
tutonehcc topcommenter

@Pete You can also be an 'assistant grower', much like the old 'medical marijuana caregiver', but unlike a caregiver, you can assistant grow for an unlimited number of people.  The best part and a huge step forward from the caregiver model is that you can assistant grow for an unlimited number of people from anywhere on earth.  My recommendation and an example would be ask your Facebook friends to assist grow for them.  This way you could grow say 95 plants and reap all the rewards.  It wouldn't be a stretch of the imagination to sell all the excess too, for profit.  Just pay your taxes, and you should have no problems at all.  Keep it under 100 plants if you worry about the feds, other than that, good to go!  Welcome to a legal cannabis business and the rest is history.  Se la vie!

BackOffImStarving
BackOffImStarving topcommenter

@Pete But you can only have up to once ounce OR six plants, if I'm not mistaken... Six plants yields well over one ounce.  How does that work?

tutonehcc
tutonehcc topcommenter

@Cognitive_Dissident How is Vicodin a threat to normalcy?  When I broke my ankle I took Vicodin for a few days and I was thankful to have it for the pain.  Why would the President interfere with prescribed pain relief?  I didn't get addicted or crave more, it kinda made me real sleepy and did exactly what it was supposed to for the pain.  There was no way THC did the trick except for the normal, get me high.  Just because you're a pot head doesn't mean Vicodin is a bad thing.

tutonehcc
tutonehcc topcommenter

@Cognitive_Dissident Just read between the lines and think inside the box, it's all good yo, weed is legal and the Pres just said he don't give a fuck yo!

tutonehcc
tutonehcc topcommenter

@chrisestus I have evidence to prove this wrong.  Medical has been raging for years in Colorado, hundreds of retail outlets, and nothing has happened.  This is evidence that nothing will happen in the future.  Seems to be the trend is enough proof that nothing's going to happen.  We're good to go bro, welcome to the party!

Pete
Pete

Because the hours suck.  Otherwise better than any other system I can think of.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@tutonehcc Certainly. The idea that "profit" is evil is absurd. Profit, is basically what the entrepreneur is paid to do what he does. Everyone needs to get paid, which means they need to create wealth. That's what people do at their "jobs" and it's what they do as entrepreneurs.

Monkey
Monkey

@BackOffImStarving  You can keep what you grow, no limits. You just can't leave the location it was grown with more than an ounce and/or 6 plants. 

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

We can't help you fell for the lie.

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

It can't be done by executive order. The scheduling of drugs is a law created by congress. You can't change a law with an executive order. He wouldn't do it anyway. If you believed he would change antything you been had.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@tutonehcc You'll see where it says "voicemails," then "pages." This was during the time he switched over from a pager to a cellphone, in the early 90's. He basically got each, at different times. I was conflicted on which term to use and ended up using each term.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@tutonehcc I'm not a pothead. I touched it twice before I was 43 and diagnosed with my pain disorder. I am a pain patient, and I haven't had pot for two days because I haven't been in severe pain. I don't even smoke it.

I have a good friend who is a dentist. We used to spend a fair amount of time together after college, before I moved to Colorado. He would frequently get persistent voicemails from patients who had been provided Vicodin for dental pain. The pages were generally far beyond the "reasonable pain period." This is a normal occurrence for him. People get addicted to that stuff really easily.

Would you call that normalcy? Vicodin is a threat to normalcy. You are one person. Apparently, you are not a person who is addicted to it easily. Many are. As for me, it doesn't seem to work. Makes me sicker. People vary.

Now, before you launch yourself into oblivion in a tirade of "how dare you," I want to make myself crystal clear: I don't believe any drug should be controlled in any way by the government. I think government controls are a complete failure.

That doesn't change the truth: Vicodin is (opioides are) a threat to an individual's normalcy. Pot is at most "habit forming," like gambling or compulsive shopping.

Back to my point: The president wouldn't interfere with prescribed pain relief (never mind that the DEA and FDA do, every day.) That was my point. He wouldn't interfere with that, but he would interfere with the people who would dare grow and distribute pot in large quantities.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@tutonehcc He also didn't give a fuck about patients, before he let his goons close down dispensaries, yo!

JimTom
JimTom topcommenter

Because I will still have some after the current society collapes anyday under the weight of itself.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Monkey ... and what good is excess kept pot that is neither consumed nor sold?

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@Pete I asked someone at A64 various questions before the election, and they thought it might support 6/3 for each resident over 21, but admitted it was unclear. He also seemed to think if you're a patient you might get away with 6/3 x 2. I'll let someone else test that theory.

Pete
Pete

@Monkey @BackOffImStarving The limit is 6 plants with no more than 3 flowering plants.  Unclear to me if this is per household or per adult.  Can anyone clarify?  

trichometrist
trichometrist

@ProximoJHB Mr Donkey has a serious Cannabinoid deficiency . In order for Mr Donkey to be able to label these individuals you must posses those qualities within.

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@ProximoJHB  The only people who take "imense offense" at specified identifiers are those Stupid Stoners, Slackers and general losers who SELF-identify with those characteristics ... losers and slackers like you.

ProximoJHB
ProximoJHB

You DonkeyHotay my dumba** friend really take the cake. I have come across many of your comments throughout these Westword articules and in most, you constantly berate MJ users; quantifying us as "Stupid Stoners", "Slackers","High school drop-out" etc etc.... How dare you, I take immense offence to this since I am an MJ user and have been for the last 10 years, I am not a highschool drop out and in fact have a 4 year degree in Electronc Engineering as well as being a member of 2 Mensa chapters (Though I highly doubt you know what that is).  You really do personify your tag name (Though it should be spelled Don Quixote (Again doubt full if you know you that is really)) since you constantly feel the need to attack giants that are not really there and end up making yourself appear the jackass you obviously are. I am not sure why you are still unable to hold a normal conversation with people on here but apparently that skill continues to allud you....

Pete
Pete

@Cognitive_Dissident @Pete   I have grown indoors for about $20 an ounce but $30 an ounce may a safer assumption for new grower getting 3 oz per plant.  Others no doubt grow it for less.  Way cheaper than going rates.  My out of pocket cost this year was actually more like $10 an ounce in greenhouse.  Last year it was $100 per ounce with greenhouse fully capitalized.  I did not start growing to have fun, it just turned out to be very good fun. 

If you don't want my criticism, then don't jump my shit for using the word "greedy."

DonkeyHotay
DonkeyHotay topcommenter

@Pete

Stupid stoners don't have many skill sets, so getting paid for growing dope is often the only possible method these high school drop-out slacker-losers have to earn any $$.

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@Pete Obviously outside. Most people won't be going "for fun" anyway. They'll be growing because of the other variables. For me, it was to not be on their list, as if I provide for myself, I don't need a red card. In a "real" market, most people won't bother to grow, just like they don't bother to grow grain.

You don't have to criticize every person who does something you wouldn't fucking do.

Pete
Pete

@Cognitive_Dissident When I talk about the dispensary gang that brought us HB 1284, I am talking about he dispensary gang that brought us HB 1284.  By definition those that opposed it are excluded.  

My method of growing costs me about $20 per ounce excluding any labor as I am a caregiver for a loved one growing hobbyist amounts.  It is actually fun to grow and I enjoy it so I do not seek money for my efforts. That is my point.  Grow your own for fun and save money.  You don't have to be paid for every stupid fucking thing you do in your life.  

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@Pete I'm not necessarily in agreement with objectivism, but she nailed it on money. When you say "the dispensary gang that brought us HB1284" you are collectivizing them. They are not a hive mind. I know some of them, who went into that because they felt they were going to be screwed as caregivers. 

Did you know that it costs money to grow, package and distribute? If people put a lot of time into that, don't you think they should be able to charge? Again, I know some of these people. Don't demonize them. It makes YOU look like an asshole. If you don't like a business, don't patronize it.

I'm not an objectivist. I won't speak for Rand. I would say that someone "making money and beyond their skill level because of artificially inflated prices created by illegality" [italics mine] has the government to blame, not the market, and not money. I don't support any aspect of it being illegal (though I understand why parents wouldn't want it sold to their children without their consent, so a "no distribution to minors" law wouldn't bug me that much.)

Pete
Pete

@Cognitive_Dissident I did not notice that it was a link. I'm generally in agreement with Rand and objectivism.  I'm also aware that the dispensary gang that brought us HB1284 and made it illegal for me to GIVE marijuana to a cancer patient as a caregiver (that was not going to assume additional responsibilities for their welfare) are a bunch of greedy assholes.

What would Rand say about people making money above and beyond their skill level because of artificially inflated prices created by illegality?  

Cognitive_Dissident
Cognitive_Dissident topcommenter

@Pete I think the idea is stupid, and I'm not greedy or a dealer (AKA retailer--nothing wrong with retailing either.) "Making money" is what happens when people create wealth. Money is a storage mechanism for that wealth. You do it. I do it. Everyone does it. It's a moral act.

If you want to tear a society off its hinges, debase its money. We are living in results of that.

I take it you didn't bother to follow the link.

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