December 14, 2012

Obama Says Marijuana Users in CO & WA Not a Top Priority, But Still No Word on Cannabis Biz

President Obama

President Barack Obama has indicated that he won’t target marijuana users in states that have legalized the drug, stoking optimism in the cannabis community. But he stopped short of giving the all-clear to retail marijuana stores, commenting only on recreational users rather than businesses.

In an interview with Barbara Walters of ABC News, Obama said said that cracking down on individual users in Colorado and Washington is not a top priority for the government and that the country has “bigger fish to fry.” The president added that – although he does not support widespread marijuana legalization at this time – it is important for the government to find a middle ground with states that have approved cannabis use.

Talk about an early Christmas present. Short of the president fully jumping on board with legalization, the statements represent a best-case scenario at this time.

“This is wonderful news,” said Robert J. Corry, an attorney in Colorado who handles marijuana cases. “It’s certainly an appropriate response, and an overwhelmingly positive one. My take all along has been that Obama would do the right thing and back off. I never took this doom and gloom view that the feds would come after everyone. Having said that, though, obviously caution is always a good idea.”

The president’s comments – his first on the issue – ease fears that the government will challenge new marijuana laws in Colorado and Washington. They also suggest that Obama is committed to working with states that have legalized marijuana rather than fighting them at every turn.

But it’s still unclear how the federal government will treat the business aspects of the new laws. Colorado and Washington both approved retail marijuana stores and are now developing a regulatory framework for the business side of the industry. The federal government could have some heavy input in the process.

However, it seems less likely now that the government will file lawsuits to block legalization and try to  prevent retail stores from opening, although that’s still a possibility.

“I think this gives us the go-ahead to do business here in Colorado,” Corry said. “I think it opens the door because his comments were couched in terms of priorities and use of resources from the federal government. I think that applies across the board, including users, growers and sellers. That’s a reasonable interpretation and I’m going to rely on it.”

Others think that the government is likely waiting to see how some of this plays out before commenting on the business side of the equation .

“I think this is an encouraging and positive sign that the feds will not take an aggressively negative posture on this,” said David Kerr, a marijuana attorney at Advokat Law Group in Seattle. “But Washington is just now moving forward with the rule-making process, and so on the business side we need a better definition about how this will be implemented before the feds respond.”


9 Comments:

  1. If they turn a blind eye to users but clamp down on legal growers and sellers then we can expect to see an increase in demand without any increase in its legal supply.

    The result will be MORE illegal supply to meet the increase in demand, and MORE of the problems that illegal supply causes (including MORE drug dealers on the streets making our children LESS safe).

    Is this really the goal of the federal government?

  2. This sounds like a supportive statement, but keep in mind that it was made on primetime TV, so the conversation that took place when the microphones/cameras were turned off may be somewhat different due to “political correctness” and concern about pressure from those influential insiders who abhor any use of marijuana, medical or otherwise.
    Now it’s a matter of wait and see if he comes through on his commitment.

  3. The tenth amendment gives the power to the people to nullify the federal laws they deem unconstitutional. Just because the feds tell you they have that power, doesn’t make it so.

  4. i’m not so sure the feds will allow commercial cultivation at this time. i think this will be the ongoing issue with the feds but we shall see.

  5. It seem rational that States had to sign on to cannabis prohibition in the beginning of cannabis prohibition and that States have to sign out of cannabis prohibition.
    Personally I feel Business aspects are what hinder us the most in California and I am in favor of larger plant counts than 6 such as 99 plants per adult.
    I hope California can step up and allow private horticulturists the plant numbers needed to properly breed cannabis.

  6. Yes!!! David Kerr is the attorney teaching Washington Cannabis Institute seminars in Seattle.

  7. I like your interpretation, and agree that in politics what is NOT said is equally as important as what IS said. What is certain is that the Feds are moving very, very carefully.

  8. In 08 he said he would leave the medical users alone, he did, but he went after the dispensaries. Same thing is going to happen in CO and WA. The shops selling are going to get raided, the buildings will be confiscated, and those compliant with state laws will go to jail. He gave no mention to safe access suppliers.

  9. Think its absolutely great that Colorado and Washington r no longer participating in drug cartel rugged states. I mean, I feel like the state I live in is that way. Gotta realize that the people they bust? The damn cartels already got their money for that! Didn’t take a bite outta nothing!

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