In President Obama's first public statement on marijuana legalization, he says the administration has "bigger fish to fry."
In an interview with Barbra Walter for ABC News that is set to air Friday (Dec. 14), the President discusses the recent legalization of marijuana in the states of Washington and Colorado on the November election ballot. In an effort to legally sell and tax the drug, both states are building tension between opposing federal drug control laws. While the Department of Justice does not reserve the power to prosecute small narcotics cases, it is planning to file a lawsuit against the two states in an effort to define parameters. But the President does not put this issue atop his list of priorities.
"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.
While the issue is not immediate for Obama, he did state his recognition and what needs to be done.
"I head up the executive branch; we're supposed to be carrying out laws," Obama said. "And so what we're going to need to have is a conversation about, 'How do you reconcile a federal law that still says marijuana is a federal offense and state laws that say that it's legal?'"
The President also briefly discussed his past drug use, which he chronicles in his autobiography Dreams From My Father.
"There are a bunch of things I did that I regret when I was a kid," he said to Walters. "My attitude is, substance abuse generally is not good for our kids, not good for our society."