Marijuana: Barack Obama says no to legalizing drugs -- but what's that mean for Colorado?
It's been six months to the day since the passage of Amendment 64, which allows adults 21 and over in Colorado to use and possess small amounts of marijuana -- and just under five months since Governor John Hickenlooper signed it into law. But even as legislators rush to finish A64-related pot bills, the feds remain silent on the measure, leaving observers to guess at their response. The latest subject of speculation: President Barack Obama's statements in Mexico about drug legalization.
Obama spoke on Friday to an audience at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. During his remarks, reproduced below in their entirety, he touched on plenty of subjects, and dropped a little Spanish here and there to ingratiate himself to the crowd.
But in these parts, the passages that jumped out pertained to drug legalization.
"I've been asked, and I honestly do not believe that legalizing drugs is the answer," he said. "But I do believe that a comprehensive approach -- not just law enforcement, but education and prevention and treatment -- that's what we have to do. And we're going to stay at it, because the lives of our children and the future of our nations depend on it."
Pete Souza President Obama on May 3 at another of his tour stops -- Costa Rica.
Later, Obama conceded that "in the United States, we recognize our responsibilities. We understand that much of the root cause of violence that's been happening here in Mexico, for which many so Mexicans have suffered, is the demand for illegal drugs in the United States. And so we've got to continue to make progress on that front."
While neither marijuana nor Colorado were mentioned in the address, the Talk Radio News Service made the connection in its coverage.
"Polls show that more and more Americans favor ending the federal ban on pot," the TRNS piece notes. "A handful of states in the U.S. have lifted legal restrictions on the drug in recent years -- including Colorado and Washington -- putting Obama in an awkward place. A pot smoker in his younger days, he must decide whether to instruct his Department of Justice to challenge those state laws, or to simply let them be."
The TRNS item points out that these words echo the plan for dealing with illegal drugs recently floated by the Office of National Drug Control Policy. Here are some bullet points from the policy:
Still, nothing in the plan states explicitly how the federal government plans to respond to marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington. Theorizing in some quarters suggests the feds will wait until state governments pass, and perhaps enact, legislation on the subject before determining what action to take. But like all the other predictions over the past six months, this is only a hypothesis. Obama's statements about federal drug legalization sound pretty definitive, but how that applies to Colorado remains very much up in the air.
Continue to read President Barack Obama's complete speech at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City on May 3, 2013, including his comments opposing drug legalization.