Obama will place less priority on enforcing against marijuana use in Colorado and Washington state.

16 Dec Obama will place less priority on enforcing against marijuana use in Colorado and Washington state.

By Jon Katz, a criminal defense lawyer, drug defense lawyer, marijuana defense lawyer, and DWI/ DUI/ Drunk Driving lawyer advocating in Fairfax County, Virginia, Montgomery County, Maryland, and beyond for the best possible results for his clients.


On December 11, I blogged on Gallup’s finding that 64% do not want federal marijuana prosecutions where pot is legal. Said poll follows the legalization of marijuna for personal use in Colorado and Washington state by referendum last month.

Where does the Obama Adminsitration stand on prosecuting the personal use of marijuana in Colorado and Washington state? On the one hand, the federal government ordinarily does not prosecute mere personal possession — rather than possession with intent to distribute or distribution — of marijuana unless the offense takes place on federal property or cannot be prosecuted in state court for whatever reason. On the other hand, one or both of Colorado and Washington state also have provisions for licensing marijuana cultivators and dispensaries for personal use, which are areas for the Obama Administration to decide whether to enforce against or not.

In any event, Reuters on December 14 reported that President Obama said he is disinclined to federally prosecute recreational drug use in Washington state and Colorado. On the same date, the White House Press Secretary issued a transcript of the day’s press briefing that includes the following from the President’s press secretary:

"What the President was saying I think is, much as he said about the use of medical marijuana, that in prioritizing our law enforcement objectives, that pursuing recreational users of marijuana in states where it has been, through a ballot initiative, declared legal, is not a top priority — would not be a top priority given, as the President said, there are bigger fish to fry, more important law enforcement priorities."

Don’t rest until marijuana is legalized throughout the land.

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