In his first public comments since recreational marijuana use was legalized by voters in Washington and Colorado, President Barack Obama revealed that he doesn’t anticipate continued prosecution of weed smokers to be a “top priority” for his administration.
“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama told Barbara Walters during an exclusive interview set to air on ABC’s 20/20 tonight.
When asked by Walters if he thinks marijuana should be legalized, the President responds that he “wouldn’t go that far” but that his administration must acknowledge that we’ve “seen the voters speak on this issue” in Washington and Colorado.
“The federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions. It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that under state law, that’s legal.”
Walters then asks the President what he tells his daughters about his admitted marijuana use in his younger days. Obama says he tells the girls, “Don’t make the mistakes that I made.”
Of course, Attorney General Eric H. Holder, Jr. will have a large part in making the call about whether to prosecute recreational marijuana possession in states that have legalized it. In 2010, after California legalized medicinal weed, Holder had announced that authorities would still aggressively prosecute marijuana laws, a statement that has proved true only intermittently.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview; Obama responds to the question on marijuana starting at 33 seconds: