Obama Says Feds Will Back Off Marijuana; Do You Believe Him?

Categories: Marijuana
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Who to trust?
Stop us if you've heard this one before: As the states press forward with reform on marijuana prohibition, the president of the United States -- which still outlaws marijuana and prosecutes providers -- says that marijuana enforcement is "not a priority."

Yet cannabis users and providers are still locked up, and the Justice Department pushes forward with forfeiture proceedings and criminal cases.

In an exclusive with Barbara Walters conducted this week, President Barack Obama said that busting marijuana is not a "top priority" and that the feds have "bigger fish to fry" than recreational users in Colorado and Washington. This is nearly identical to what feds said in 2009, when California seemed poised to legalize -- and we all know what happened next. 

So forgive marijuana advocates if they don't trust the president -- at all -- and kindly suggest he "grow a sack of nuts."

See also: Obama Explains Marijuana Crackdown -- Sort Of

"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.

Obama made eerily similar comments on the campaign trail and after taking office. His top man at the Justice Department, Eric Holder, also made similar statements about "priorities." To top it off, a Chief Holder deputy, David Ogden, issued a memo that seemed to give the statements from the president and attorney general a legal backing.

Then, of course, the opposite happened. Holder told California that he would enforce the Controlled Substances Act if Prop. 19 passed in 2010 (it failed, with help from Holder). Another deputy attorney general, this one James Cole, issued another memo that said the war on marijuana was still very much on. 

And United States Attorney for Northern California Melinda Haag has served as a reliable if sometimes erratic soldier: Her office has shut down nine dispensaries in San Francisco and is moving to shut down Oakland's Harborside Health Center --  the nation's biggest dispensary (though dozens more keep selling pot with temporary impunity, wondering when or if it will end).

So that's why Obama's statement can't be trusted. All the more so when you consider that the president said that it's Congress' job to change the laws that make marijuana illegal.

When the president says, "How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it's legal?", he "lacks serious courage, and is kind of full of shit," wrote the anonymous activist behind WeedActivist.com. The president would do well to "walk back into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and begin to grow that sack of nuts that you will need to stand up to decades of prohibition and the monsters that choose to keep these evil policies in place." 

So will he? Marijuana advocates have been fooled once, they likely won't be fooled again.

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He didn't really say anything.  It's not like the Feds were going to bother recreational or medical users for possession of less than an ounce unless you take it through airport security or into a Federal building anyway.  There aren't enough Federal cops to waste their time on small fry like that. 

But just as he promised to leave medical marijuana alone and then a month later let Eric Holder and the DEA go busting medical dispensaries in California, I'm sure he'll have fewer qualms about doing the same for recreational dispensaries in Washington or Colorado. 

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