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Recreational pot smokers won't be 'top priority' for feds, according to Obama
According to President Obama, recreational marijuana users in Washington State will not be a "top priority" for federal drug enforcement officials.
"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," Obama said in an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters.
Although voters in Washington State and Colorado chose to approve recreational use of pot in November, marijuana remains illegal on the federal level, where it is listed as a Schedule I narcotic – along with drugs such as heroin and LSD – according to the Controlled Substances Act.
"This is a tough problem because Congress has not yet changed the law," Obama told Walters. "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?"
Obama said he doesn't support widespread legalization of marijuana at the federal level, but he has asked Attorney General Eric Holder to look into legal questions arising from the legalization of the drug at the state level.
Washington State and Colorado are the first states to legalize marijuana for recreational use. Eighteen states have legalized the drug use for medicinal purposes.
The Washington State Liquor Control Board – which will oversee the regulation of marijuana in the state – is drafting rules regarding the production, distribution and sale of pot. It has until December 2013 to draft regulations governing marijuana in the state.
Obama's comments to Walters represent the first time the federal government has weighed in on legalization in Washington State and Colorado.