After Washington voters passed Initiative 502 in November and legalized small amounts of marijuana, many people in the state were concerned about how the federal government would react. Some feared that the feds would continue to crack down on pout smokers because the drug is still illegal according to federal statutes.
Well, there was a small sigh of relief last week when President Obama stated that his administration would not target marijuana users in the state of Washington (or Colorado, which passed similar legislation). In an interview with ABC's Barbara Walters, the president noted that "We've got bigger fish to fry" than to go "after recreational users in states that have determined that it's legal."
Obama did admit that sometime soon there would have to be a conversation about marijuana laws at the state and federal levels.Though pot advocates are cautiously optimistic after hearing Obama's statement, they are still worried about the actions of the federal government with regard to marijuana. For instance, the Obama administration has aggressively pursued medical marijuana dispensaries in California in the past, and some Washington residents wonder if growers and medical marijuana stores would be targeted in their state.
There is a long history of differences between what the president has said and what he has actually done. (For instance, although Obama said he was in favor of gay marriage, he provided no assistance to the activists at the state level who got a gay-marriage measure passed on the Washington ballot.) In addition, Attorney General Eric Holder said last week that he would issue a policy on state marijuana laws soon. That statement might actually be more relevant to Washington pot smokers than a response to a Barbara Walters interview question.