Marijuana: White House finally discusses pot -- but not Colorado weed laws
Members of the Colorado marijuana scene have been waiting since election day for the federal government to definitively state its position on Amendment 64. Instead, the White House has been largely silent on the topic of pot for the better part of a year -- until yesterday, when deputy press secretary Josh Earnest, seen here, was finally prodding into addressing the subject. Unfortunately, as you'll see in one of the videos on view below, he said nothing of substance and didn't specifically mention Colorado -- something that frustrates at least one national weed advocate.
Photos and videos below.
In a post-election conference call with Attorney General Eric Holder, Governor John Hickenlooper and Colorado Attorney General John Suthers stressed urgency regarding the feds' plans to deal with A64 -- but urgency isn't what they got. In March, Holder said a decision on a federal response would be coming soon, but more than five months later, nothing has been announced.
As for President Barack Obama, the only time he's spoken at length about marijuana in a public forum since A64's passage was a December interview with Barbara Walters. Here's a breakdown of what he said, from our original post about his comments:
Photo by Pete Souza President Barack Obama speaking to Barbara Walters this past December.
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."Here's a clip featuring some of Obama's remarks.
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.
Cut to Tuesday, when the following exchange took place at a White House press briefing overseen by Earnest:
Q Before going to Martha's Vineyard, Sanjay Gupta had an interesting column in CNN about marijuana -- changed his mind. He had been at one point considered by the President to be the surgeon general pick a number of years ago. I'm wondering if the White House has any reaction to that column and also if the President has been personally looking at that issue, given that the country -- the polls on marijuana have changed quite a bit since he took office in favor of legalization. Is there any change in his sort of outlook on it?Gupta's column, "Why I changed my mind on weed," and a subsequent documentary concisely entitled WEED, have a significant Colorado connection.
MR. EARNEST: Steve, when I called on you I don't think I could ever have predicted that this was the question you were going to ask me. (Laughter.) So I really was into the potpourri category of questions for this one. I have to confess I did not see the Sanjay Gupta column that you're referring to, so it's hard for me to comment on it at this point. So I'll have to take the question.
Continue for more about the White House's discussion of marijuana, including more photos and two videos.