Obama: "Bigger Fish To Fry" Than Pot Smokers

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
Dec. 14 2012 9:54 AM

Obama Says He's Got "Bigger Fish To Fry" Than Recreational Pot Smokers

158328086
President Obama walks back to the White House after attending a National Security Council holiday party at Blair House on December 13, 2012 in Washington, D.C.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

President Obama sat down with ABC News Barbara Walters for a holiday season interview that will air in full later today. The major newsy nugget (no pun intended): The president doesn't sound like a man who has any plans to aggressively target pot smokers in Colorado and Washington, the two states that recently voted to legalize recreational marijuana use.

Josh Voorhees Josh Voorhees

Josh Voorhees is a Slate senior writer. He lives in Iowa City. 

"We've got bigger fish to fry," Obama said, adding: "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."

Advertisement

Obama's comments come the same week that his attorney general, Eric Holder, said that he would announce a new policy on the state laws "relatively soon." If the administration opts to more or less leave recreational users alone in Washington and Colorado it would mark something of a change in posture toward legal marijuana, as the Washington Post explains:

Under Obama, the Drug Enforcement Administration has aggressively gone after medical marijuana dispensaries in California, where they are legal. In September, federal officials raided several Los Angeles shops and sent warnings to many more.

Here's how Holder explained where things stand with the Colorado and Washington laws on Wednesday:

"We are looking at those two initiatives those two statutes and trying to determine exactly how we will respond and expect we will be doing so relatively quickly," he insisted. "There are a number of issues that have to be considered among them the impact that drug usage has on young people, we have treaty obligations with nations outside the United States, there are a whole variety of things that have to go into the determination that we are in the process of making."

And here's a clip from Obama's ABC interview:

TODAY IN SLATE

Frame Game

Hard Knocks

I was hit by a teacher in an East Texas public school. It taught me nothing.

There Are New Abuse Allegations Against Adrian Peterson

After This Merger, One Company Could Control One-Third of the Planet's Beer Sales

John Oliver Pleads for Scotland to Stay With the U.K.

If You’re Outraged by the NFL, Follow This Satirical Blowhard on Twitter

Jurisprudence

Don’t Expect Adrian Peterson to Go to Prison

In much of America, beating your kids is perfectly legal. 

The Juice

Ford’s Big Gamble

It’s completely transforming America’s best-selling vehicle.

I Tried to Write an Honest Profile of One of Bollywood’s Biggest Stars. It Didn’t Go Well.

Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police

The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 1:51 PM Here’s Why College Women Don’t Take Rape Allegations to the Police
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 15 2014 8:56 PM The Benghazi Whistleblower Who Might Have Revealed a Massive Scandal on his Poetry Blog
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 15 2014 7:27 PM Could IUDs Be the Next Great Weapon in the Battle Against Poverty?
  Life
Outward
Sept. 15 2014 4:38 PM What Is Straight Ice Cream?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 15 2014 3:31 PM My Year As an Abortion Doula
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 15 2014 11:38 AM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 4  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Listen."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 15 2014 8:58 PM Lorde Does an Excellent Cover of Kanye West’s “Flashing Lights”
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 15 2014 4:49 PM Cheetah Robot Is Now Wireless and Gallivanting on MIT’s Campus
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 15 2014 11:00 AM The Comet and the Cosmic Beehive
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 15 2014 9:05 PM Giving Up on Goodell How the NFL lost the trust of its most loyal reporters.