President Obama says recreational users of marijuana in states that have legalized the substance should not be a “top priority” of federal law enforcement officials prosecuting the war on drugs. “We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Obama said of pot users in Colorado and Washington during an 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.
Marijuana, or cannabis, remains classified under the Controlled Substances Act as a Schedule I narcotic whose cultivation, distribution, possession and use are criminal acts. It’s in the same category as heroin, LSD and “Ecstasy,” all deemed to have high potential for abuse. Obama told Walters he does not “at this point” support widespread legalization of marijuana. He cited shifting public opinion and limited government resources as reasons to find a middle ground on punishing use of the drug. “There are a number of issues that have to be considered, among them the impact that drug usage has on young people, [and] we have treaty obligations with nations outside the United States,” Holder said this week.