Obama: Marijuana users won’t be a “top priority” in second term

posted at 9:21 am on December 14, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Libertarians rejoice — at least for a moment.  The federal government has “bigger fish to fry” than pursuing marijuana violators, Barack Obama told Barbara Walters in an interview that will air later tonight, but which ABC teased this morning.  But note carefully the construct used by Obama in answering the question about what will happen to states that legalized marijuana use last month:

President Obama says recreational users of marijuana in states that have legalized the substance should not be a “top priority” of federal law enforcement officials prosecuting the war on drugs.

“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama said of pot users in Colorado and Washington during an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Barbara Walters.

“It would not make sense for us to see a top priority as going after recreational users in states that have determined that it’s legal,” he said, invoking the same approach taken toward users of medicinal marijuana in 18 states where it’s legal.

That may be good news in those two states — if the Obama administration had been targeting “recreational users” before the election.  They weren’t; the DEA and FBI had targeted medicinal-marijuana distributors, even in Colorado and California, where such sales were legalized by voters in prior elections.  The enforcement of laws barring recreational use has always been a state and local issue.  This sounds less like a policy shift and more like political Kabuki.

Obama then blamed Congress for continued enforcement of existing federal laws against distribution of marijuana:

“This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama said. “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?”

The president said he has asked Attorney General Eric Holder and the Justice Department to examine the legal questions surrounding conflicting state and federal laws on drugs.

Ahem.  This administration, and specifically Holder, didn’t seem to have a problem conducting an end-around the 4th Amendment in March without involving Congress, nor in bypassing Congress on several aspects of immigration enforcement over the summer.  The Obama administration has more leeway in determining how best to spend its War On Drugs funding, which means they could have chosen to ignore openly-operating medicinal marijuana operations in states that had legalized them had they wanted to do so.

This statement will generate some hope among legalization advocates that the Obama administration will lighten up on marijuana enforcement, but they shouldn’t get their hopes too, er, high on that score.


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Bigger fish like the Tea Party.

DeathtotheSwiss on December 14, 2012 at 9:22 AM

Betty Crocker stock just went through the roof.

Bishop on December 14, 2012 at 9:23 AM

True. He does have bigger issues to deal with like the deficit, the economy, reforming entitlements, preventing Iran from getting a nuke….sorry, I can’t type anymore with a straight face.

Doughboy on December 14, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Amazing… America deserves whomever they (re)elect…

Khun Joe on December 14, 2012 at 9:27 AM

“Bigger Fish To Fry”
aka people who work for a living.

SAMinVA on December 14, 2012 at 9:27 AM

I would hope the government has more important things to do than to continue a failed drug war.

mythicknight on December 14, 2012 at 9:31 AM

“This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama said. “I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws

Such as laws that make it illegal to run guns to other countries?

rbj on December 14, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Selective enforcement of the laws-

-now is a great time for a dope-smoking, illegal immigrant Democrat uninterestested in producing a Federal budget to run for the Senate from the state of Wasington-

M240H on December 14, 2012 at 9:32 AM

but they shouldn’t get their hopes too, er, high on that score.

Oh God, must there always be a lame pun in a MJ post?

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Now Colo. and Wash. will be all messed up. Just earlier in the week they specifically said they were waiting on some guidance from the feds regarding regulation and distribution. They did not want to formally integrate pot into society, read that as spend money, until they were sure they would not be in conflict with fed law. Not a wrong consideration on their part.
Now, if they stick to that, pot use will be a free-for-all.
High Times indeed.

Jabberwock on December 14, 2012 at 9:34 AM

Yes he has to let the cartels product
come to America – they are too well
armed to fight now.

redguy on December 14, 2012 at 9:34 AM

Choomer in Chief.

changer1701 on December 14, 2012 at 9:35 AM

Obama said the same thing four years ago. He’s a pathological Bullsh!!ter

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 9:35 AM

I would hope the government has more important things to do than to continue a failed drug war.

mythicknight on December 14, 2012 at 9:31 AM

Agreed. Running guns to Mexican drug gangs in an effort to subvert the 2nd Amendment absorbs quite a bit of resources, Bark should concentrate on that.

Bishop on December 14, 2012 at 9:37 AM

Oh God, must there always be a lame pun in a MJ post?

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Yeah, I understand why you’d get all disjointed.

TMOverbeck on December 14, 2012 at 9:38 AM

Oh God, must there always be a lame pun in a MJ post?

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Yes. And don’t harsh my mellow, man.

Ed Morrissey on December 14, 2012 at 9:39 AM

Translation: The more stoners we have, the better – Stoners are easily led to slaughter.

Pork-Chop on December 14, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Yeah….bigger fish…like anyone that has a salary…

PatriotRider on December 14, 2012 at 9:42 AM

Yeah, I understand why you’d get all disjointed.

TMOverbeck on December 14, 2012 at 9:38 AM

hey Man, don’t bogart the puns.

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 9:42 AM

I would hope the government has more important things to do than to continue a failed drug war.

mythicknight on December 14, 2012 at 9:31 AM

As long as you just legalize everything. Just don’t try to assert legalizing pot will stop it and be a hypocrite about picking what’s safe or not.

hawkdriver on December 14, 2012 at 9:43 AM

make sure your hopes don’t get lifted *tee hee*

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 9:44 AM

Oh wow man and no more twinkies.

docflash on December 14, 2012 at 9:48 AM

“We’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

Yeah.. with tarter sauce.

upinak on December 14, 2012 at 9:52 AM

Jay “Pathological” Carney quickly clarified Oblamer “has stronger things to snort.”

viking01 on December 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM

As long as you just legalize everything. Just don’t try to assert legalizing pot will stop it and be a hypocrite about picking what’s safe or not.

hawkdriver on December 14, 2012 at 9:43 AM

Exactly hawk. Let’s all be honest for a minute and quit pretending that it wouldn’t soon be extended to everything else – maybe except performance-enhancing steroids.

Our country is going to have to learn the hard way WHY we have a war on drugs. The Dutch learned the hard way why listening to sheep bleating for pot was a bad idea, and they paid dearly for it. I don’t like to think what the bill will be for our folly.

MelonCollie on December 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Obama has no reason to go pro-legalization since the Republican nominee didn’t support it, and there won’t be another one for a few years, when, if the Republican nominee can come out in support of ending the war on drugs or even simple legalization of marijuana, the Democrats can suddenly “evolve” on that issue as well.

If Romney had supported legalization, you can bet Obama would have evolved on the issue as well, just to cut Romney off at the pass. He’s not interested in policy, just votes.

mintycrys on December 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Thanks Obama, Holder, and the race-baiting state run media for bringing racism back to level of the 100 years following the civil war.

Isn’t it ironic that blacks like Obama, Holder, Jackson, Sharpton and the Democrat Party have brought this nation back into slavery – economic, political, regulatory, and political correctness slavery.

iamsaved on December 14, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Gun rights. Free speech. Christianity. Real voting. Small business. Small banks. Back yard barbecuing. All cars that are not Chevy volts.
Our nuclear deterrent… just off the top of my head.

So I’m wondering…. how many nukes have we dismantled so far? What are we down to now? Anybody know? I suppose we’ll just wake up one day and he’ll announce we are nuke free. A few days after that a Chinese warship will just stroll up along one of our beaches and do an unannounced surprised “friendship visit.”

We laugh now. But give this a few years.

JellyToast on December 14, 2012 at 9:55 AM

Don’t enforce immigration laws, or pot laws, but will take our guns and health care away. hmmm, that’s some big fish there, buddy. The feds went through our state last year arresting proprietors and closing medical pot shops because it was against the fed law. We had to vote on a new law almost the same as the old law in Nov. Now we are told the law be damned by the prezzy. Not in favor of it myself and will have to watch traffic more closely if in CO. Won’t go to Calif again ever.

Kissmygrits on December 14, 2012 at 9:57 AM

Obama’s basically telling people in those states it’s okay to grow a bit in their own homes.

EricW on December 14, 2012 at 10:01 AM

Now that Obama’s satiated the Libertarians, he’s off to things he considers to be “important.”

Good little Libertarian stoners, good little Libbies, pat-pat on yer ‘eds.

Lourdes on December 14, 2012 at 10:02 AM

…Now we are told the law be damned by the prezzy…

Kissmygrits on December 14, 2012 at 9:57 AM

That’s Obama’s legacy statement: “the law be damned.”

Lourdes on December 14, 2012 at 10:03 AM

Go for a Natural High

News2Use on December 14, 2012 at 10:04 AM

Good little Libertarian stoners, good little Libbies, pat-pat on yer ‘eds.

Lourdes on December 14, 2012 at 10:02 AM

you’re an idiot. I’ve never seen you not generalize or stereotype

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 10:10 AM

MelonCollie on December 14, 2012 at 9:54 AM

Panama legalized everything. It seems to be going well.

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 10:11 AM

he can fry all the fish he wants. he’s just one person and has no real power over 350+ mil people. obama is media hype.

long_cat on December 14, 2012 at 10:11 AM

oops

portugal I mean

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 10:15 AM

you’re an idiot. I’ve never seen you not generalize or stereotype

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 10:10 AM

Their an idiot? *sighs* How about drug free work environments that have to use vehicles, machines, etc.?

Just because you can smoke pot now, doesn’t mean anyone will hire you… that is due to insurance. And personally, I would rather not hire someone who does drugs, period. I don’t need my insurance to go up because you want a amendment to let you smoke pot.

upinak on December 14, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Obama has “bigger fish to fry” like golf, vacations, parties, campaigning…

The Rogue Tomato on December 14, 2012 at 10:27 AM

OK, all the Ron Paul fans can now go back to the Democrat plantation now.

Hummer53 on December 14, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Now that Obama’s satiated the Libertarians, he’s off to things he considers to be “important.”

Good little Libertarian stoners, good little Libbies, pat-pat on yer ‘eds.

Lourdes on December 14, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Look at you defending a centralized authoritarian State instead of the sovereignty of the individual nations that comprise our confederation.

Dante on December 14, 2012 at 10:30 AM

Their an idiot? *sighs* How about drug free work environments that have to use vehicles, machines, etc.?

Just because you can smoke pot now, doesn’t mean anyone will hire you… that is due to insurance. And personally, I would rather not hire someone who does drugs, period. I don’t need my insurance to go up because you want a amendment to let you smoke pot.

upinak on December 14, 2012 at 10:26 AM

that would be “they’re” (sorry)

Work environments are private enterprises. They can drug test if they want. I’m sure they don’t let drunks operate heavy machinery, even though it’s legal to drink.

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 10:31 AM

I vape weed. That should not in and of itself make me a criminal. Quit trying to regulate mother nature. It’s a futile effort that causes more harm than good. Conservatives shouldn’t have a problem with this.

mazer9 on December 14, 2012 at 10:31 AM

Isn’t it ironic that blacks like Obama, Holder, Jackson, Sharpton and the Democrat Party have brought this nation back into slavery – economic, political, regulatory, and political correctness slavery.

iamsaved on December 14, 2012 at 9:55 AM

A friend of mine and I had a discussion on my comparison of the Benghazi attack and the civil rights bombing of the “16th Street Baptist Church” and how the corrupt media, political influences on leaders, poor law enforcement attempts and a few other things play roughly the same. The media never covered bombings leading up to the murder of four little girls in the church with dynamite.

The most important ingredient was pandering to a voting bloc. In the south, it was racist whites, today it is minorities and the programming of the US population that Republicans are racist. Of course, this follows thirty years of brainwashing about racism being the biggest problem in world history.

The echo of southern killers can be heard in how McCain and the Republicans are being treated when asking about the murders. The “to the imaginary out of town killers were added out of town troublemakers asking questions…

A comparison of former Governor Geroge Wallace and our POTUS was so incendiary that I am not posting it.

Populism, corrupt media, deaths, no criminal prosecution or punishment…who needs civil rights today? Rice?

IlikedAUH2O on December 14, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Conservatives shouldn’t have a problem with this.

mazer9 on December 14, 2012 at 10:31 AM

conservatives don’t. Statists that claim conservatism do.

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 10:35 AM

Just because you can smoke pot now, doesn’t mean anyone will hire you…

upinak on December 14, 2012 at 10:26 AM

Can’t say I’ve ever had an employer in CA test me for drugs. And if they asked, I’d tell them I use cannabis…

JohnGalt23 on December 14, 2012 at 10:36 AM

Choomer in Chief.

changer1701 on December 14, 2012 at 9:35 AM

A dope talking about dope.

UltimateBob on December 14, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Work environments are private enterprises. They can drug test if they want. I’m sure they don’t let drunks operate heavy machinery, even though it’s legal to drink.

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 10:31 AM

And this would be the reason why businesses have the “Right to Work”. I don’t have to keep you on if I (as a private enterprise) see that you are not worth the time, alcohol/pot/other. :)

Unlike Unions.

upinak on December 14, 2012 at 10:41 AM

why are Pubs small government until weed comes up and then it’s Santorum time?

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 10:42 AM

“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama said

.
President Cliche….. knows how to to connect with the little people.

Lets fry us up some Republicans azz…..shall we?

FlaMurph on December 14, 2012 at 10:44 AM

Unlike Unions.

upinak on December 14, 2012 at 10:41 AM

lol. That’s for sure. I bought a GM car and some stoner had stuck the rear view mirror on the bumper. I believe he got a promotion.

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 10:47 AM

why are Pubs small government until weed comes up and then it’s Santorum time?

It’s called “hypocrisy”. I’m a black, atheist, conservative. I don’t have all the “moral” hangups and contradictions that many of them do.

mazer9 on December 14, 2012 at 10:48 AM

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?”

.
Thats an easy one, you narrow minded Marxist bred Occupier of the WH !

Get rid of the 10th Amendment….. you know you want to.

Dreams of my Marxism

FlaMurph on December 14, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Obama: Marijuana users won’t be a “top priority” in second term

Did my Stash arrive yet? Michelle’s ragging me….

ToddPA on December 14, 2012 at 10:59 AM

why are Pubs small government until weed comes up and then it’s Santorum time?

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 10:42 AM

NOT enforcing a law does not equal “small government”. Every Republican and every conservative should be concerned when a president randomly chooses to not enforce a law. If the goal is “small government”, then actually shrinking the size of government and reducing the number of laws must take place. As he has done many times before, obama is functioning as a dictator with unlimited power to pick and choose which laws he will uphold – this has nothing to do with “small government” and everything to do with obama overstepping his authority – it’s just another obama BIG POWER GRAB.

Pork-Chop on December 14, 2012 at 11:02 AM

Unlike Unions.

upinak on December 14, 2012 at 10:41 AM

lol. That’s for sure. I bought a GM car and some stoner had stuck the rear view mirror on the bumper. I believe he got a promotion.

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 10:47 AM

I have a number of friends who worked on the assembly line at the Chrysler plant here in Newark, Delaware (now closed down). They told me many stories about what went on in that plant. Guys used to drive the forklifts around the plant smoking joints. The area was so large and open that you could barely smell it. Unless you got up close, you couldn’t tell if they were smoking a cigarette or a doobie. But nobody cared anyway.

If you ever wanted any kind of drugs (you name it, pot, heroin, coke, etc), you could get it any time, through someone who worked there.

Another story was about a guy who worked in “quality control.” His job was to inspect each vehicle as it rolled off the assembly line, but all he really did was sit there with his legs propped up, reading the paper all day. Every once in a while he would get up out of his chair, take a nail, and put a scratch in the paint on a fender of a car and reject it. It was his way of appearing as though he was actually doing his job. “Job security” if you will.

And they wonder why Chrysler went bankrupt…..

UltimateBob on December 14, 2012 at 11:06 AM

NOT enforcing a law does not equal “small government”. Every Republican and every conservative should be concerned when a president randomly chooses to not enforce a law. If the goal is “small government”, then actually shrinking the size of government and reducing the number of laws must take place. As he has done many times before, obama is functioning as a dictator with unlimited power to pick and choose which laws he will uphold – this has nothing to do with “small government” and everything to do with obama overstepping his authority – it’s just another obama BIG POWER GRAB.

Would you feel this way if he chose not to enforce “Obamacare”?

Probably not.

mazer9 on December 14, 2012 at 11:07 AM

this has nothing to do with “small government” and everything to do with obama overstepping his authority – it’s just another obama BIG POWER GRAB.

Pork-Chop on December 14, 2012 at 11:02 AM

He said this four years ago, then proceeded to raid every dispensary in sight. So no need to worry about him NOT enforcing the law.

This has everything to do with small government. Federalism is one of those checks and balances thingies.

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 11:08 AM

I also heard that Obamuh advises young people not to do what he did when he was younger. Uh huh, cuz he already got himself re-elected using the “cool” factor from his choomin’ misbehavior. Yeah, don’t do what he did cuz he’s the only lyin’ cheatin’ drug-addled corrupt despicable moron who could use it as a successful campaign device. And he wants to remain the one and only.

stukinIL4now on December 14, 2012 at 11:12 AM

Well, I guess the good news is that he won’t be actively supporting them. (His buddies in the Choom Gang must be awfully sad, though!)

Mr. Prodigy on December 14, 2012 at 11:15 AM

stukinIL4now on December 14, 2012 at 11:12 AM

the man raids dispensaries left and right, but that’s “okay” cause he cut a campaign ad with Harold and Kumar. What a joke.

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Would you feel this way if he chose not to enforce “Obamacare”?

Probably not.

mazer9 on December 14, 2012 at 11:07 AM

ALL laws should be enforced equally – or be removed from the books. Whether it be drug laws, immigration, obamacare or whatever – ignoring a law does not change or eliminate the law – it simply sends it into remission – from which it can be reactivated at any moment.

Pork-Chop on December 14, 2012 at 11:20 AM

the man raids dispensaries left and right, but that’s “okay” cause he cut a campaign ad with Harold and Kumar. What a joke.

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 11:15 AM

That’s typical of the way the left thinks.

They don’t care that 0bama hasn’t actually kept any of his campaign promises. As long as he just keeps promising them all the right things, they’ll keep voting for him and his ilk.

UltimateBob on December 14, 2012 at 11:28 AM

“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama said

Getting those people with too much money is way more important.

why are Pubs small government until weed comes up and then it’s Santorum time?

Slade73

Why do marijuana supporters equate small government with no government? There are laws against kidnapping too…does that mean conservatives who support those laws are for big government?

And for the record, I think marijuana should be legal. But silly arguments are silly arguments.

xblade on December 14, 2012 at 11:33 AM

Why do marijuana supporters equate small government with no government? There are laws against kidnapping too…does that mean conservatives who support those laws are for big government?

And for the record, I think marijuana should be legal. But silly arguments are silly arguments.

xblade on December 14, 2012 at 11:33 AM

you’re right. And that’s one silly friggin’ argument. This is about personal liberties. I don’t include kidnapping on that list.

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 11:37 AM

Obama: Marijuana users won’t be a “top priority” in second term

…in other words…they’ll be ignoring JugEars?

KOOLAID2 on December 14, 2012 at 11:49 AM

Okay Lets see… marijuana and alcohol in Colorado-legal. Buying unpasteurized milk in Colorado-illegal. Hmm, you know what, nevermind, I give up.

NeverLiberal on December 14, 2012 at 11:51 AM

ALL laws should be enforced equally – or be removed from the books. Whether it be drug laws, immigration, obamacare or whatever – ignoring a law does not change or eliminate the law – it simply sends it into remission – from which it can be reactivated at any moment.

I agree. Laws that are ignored shouldn’t be on the books, or they should be enforced. Perhaps this would be a good opportunity to change the laws regarding to pot. It’s a stupid law to begin with.

mazer9 on December 14, 2012 at 11:53 AM

Barry’s too busy printing cash.

Little Boomer on December 14, 2012 at 11:53 AM

“We’ve got bigger fish to fry.”

Translation: We’ve got more of America to fundamentally destroy. So suck it up stoners.

CorporatePiggy on December 14, 2012 at 11:54 AM

Those Amish raw milk producers thought, they are a menace!

telmah on December 14, 2012 at 12:05 PM

“This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama said. “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 that it is illegal to enter the country and work without a work visa.

Yeah, funny how that works, eh, sport?

AZfederalist on December 14, 2012 at 12:10 PM

NOT enforcing a law does not equal “small government”. Every Republican and every conservative should be concerned when a president randomly chooses to not enforce a law. If the goal is “small government”, then actually shrinking the size of government and reducing the number of laws must take place. As he has done many times before, obama is functioning as a dictator with unlimited power to pick and choose which laws he will uphold – this has nothing to do with “small government” and everything to do with obama overstepping his authority – it’s just another obama BIG POWER GRAB.

Pork-Chop on December 14, 2012 at 11:02 AM

I agree with this.

Also, as to the article, I would bet that if a prominent Republican was making waves and was caught with pot in Colorado or Washington, you can bet your sweet bippy that the full weight of the law would come down on his/her head.

cptacek on December 14, 2012 at 12:47 PM

NOT enforcing a law does not equal “small government”. Every Republican and every conservative should be concerned when a president randomly chooses to not enforce a law. If the goal is “small government”, then actually shrinking the size of government and reducing the number of laws must take place. As he has done many times before, obama is functioning as a dictator with unlimited power to pick and choose which laws he will uphold – this has nothing to do with “small government” and everything to do with obama overstepping his authority – it’s just another obama BIG POWER GRAB.

Pork-Chop on December 14, 2012 at 11:02 AM

You’re right that selective enforcement is a sign of small government. Actually, it’s a sign that government is too big and out of control. While I don’t like the drug war and believe it should be ended with some kind of tax scheme, coupled with employer testing as employers determine same to be needed, I have no doubt that this administration will not hesitate to enforce this drug law if the person committing the crime is someone they dislike. That’s scary big government.

I want a government of as few laws as possible.

EconomicNeocon on December 14, 2012 at 3:06 PM

What happened to the word “not” above? Sorry that we can’t edit posts.

My first sentence should have read, “You’re right that selective enforcement is not a sign of small government.

EconomicNeocon on December 14, 2012 at 3:08 PM

Panama legalized everything. It seems to be going well.

Slade73 on December 14, 2012 at 10:11 AM

Panama is, at best, a second-world nation with nowhere near the population (or the problems) of the USA. And if their grand experiment goes wrong it is nowhere near as likely to start an international conflagration.

MelonCollie on December 14, 2012 at 7:45 PM