President Obama told ABC News’s Barbara Walters in a new interview to be released tonight that “it would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational [marijuana] users in states that have determined that it’s legal.”
Here’s a statement in reaction from Marijuana Majority Chairman Tom Angell:
“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 also tries to unjustifiably pass the buck to Congress, claiming that there’s not much he can do to change federal policy on marijuana because ‘Congress has not yet changed the law.’ The fact is, the executive branch was granted the power to unilaterally reschedule marijuana when Congress passed the Controlled Substances Act in 1970. The president should lead on this issue instead of deferring to Congress, a branch of government that he probably knows better than most isn’t exactly prone to getting a whole lot done these days.
“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 what direction the public was moving in.”
Excerpts from the interview, which will be released in full tonight, are online at http://abcnews.go.com/Politics/OTUS/president-obama-marijuana-users-high-priority-drug-war/story?id=17946783