Obama Declares Pot Enforcement Will Not Be Priority In Legalization States While Justice Department States There Will Be No Change In Federal Enforcement

marijuana_leafPresObamaAs we discussed earlier, the Justice Department issued a statement after the passage of state laws legalizing marijuana that they would not affected federal enforcement. Obama officials also stated after the election (after being silent during the campaign) that marijuana policy would not change. Now, President Obama has given an interview that the federal government will not make enforcement a “priority” against recreational users. This is being billed as a major scope on “Obama’s pot problem.” However, there may be less than meets the eye here. He does not address the organizations and distributors of legal marijuana, which his Administration has cracked down on for the last four years. It also raises an interesting contradiction with other fields where Obama had insisted that matters are left to the Justice Department on questions of enforcement.

Obama told ABC “We’ve got bigger fish to fry . . . 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.” His use of “recreational users” is telling. The state police generally goes after recreational users. The controversy for the last four years has been the Administration’s crackdown on distributors and growers who supply legal marijuana for medical use etc.

The statement also contradicts the statements of officials in the Administration. The U.S. Attorney’s office in Seattle (the highest Justice official in the state) issued a public warning after the election that “[r]egardless of any changes in state law, including the change that will go into effect on Dec. 6 in Washington state, growing, selling or possessing any amount of marijuana remains illegal under federal law. … Neither states nor the executive branch can nullify a statute passed by Congress.”

As I noted earlier that the Justice Department statement is a curious statement since the Obama Administration recently did precisely that in the immigration area — it declared that it would no longer enforce the express law with regard to certain illegal aliens. It also refused to defend such laws as the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Moreover, the Justice Department routinely makes decisions on the allocation of resources and priorities. Likewise, soon after taking office, Obama notoriously went to the CIA and assured CIA employees that they would not be prosecuted for torture, even though he admitted that water boarding used is torture. The President’s statement would reflect that he is going that route, but only for recreational users.

He remains uncertain, however, on how he can refuse to enforce this federal law despite his promise not to prosecute torture at the CIA or refusal to enforce immigration rules: “This is a tough problem, because Congress has not yet changed the law,” Obama said. “I head up the executive branch; we’re supposed to be carrying out laws. 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?”

He can clearly make marijuana enforcement a non-priority and I agree with that move. Yet, such statements on “users” avoids the primary question. Will he continue his controversial policy of cracking down on distributors and growers in these states?

Source: ABC

152 thoughts on “Obama Declares Pot Enforcement Will Not Be Priority In Legalization States While Justice Department States There Will Be No Change In Federal Enforcement”

  1. Gene,

    “I’m not insulting your intelligence, but rather your willingness to ignore reality and logic on this issue in favor of emotionalism because children were killed.”

    Now you’re just being silly.

    Guns serve one purpose and one purpose only … killing. The Second Amendment enables mass killing and contributes mightily to the cultural acceptability of such behavior. The only people who get “emotional” about it are those who are afraid someone is going to take their guns away thus limiting their ability to kill. How will they arm their snowmen then?!

    Unless you are willing to tackle the real problem here, which is the Second Amendment and the interpretations that have strengthened its lethal impact on society … I am not interested.

    Now, I am headed out for a day of frivolity with friends and family so will not be checking back in till late tomorrow. You take care of your cold!

  2. Cherry pick much?

    “Historically, Australia has had relatively low levels of violent crime. Overall levels of homicide and suicide have remained relatively static for several decades, while the proportion of these crimes that involved firearms has consistently declined since the early 1980s. Between 1991 and 2001, the number of firearm-related deaths in Australia declined 47%.[25]

    In the year 2002–2003, over 85% of firearms used to commit murder were unregistered.[26] In 1997–1999, more than 80% of the handguns confiscated were never legally purchased or registered in Australia.[27] Knives are used up to three times as often as firearms in robberies.[28] The majority of firearm-related deaths are suicides, of which many involved the use of hunting rifles.[25]

    According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics [3], from 1985–2000, 78% of firearm deaths in Australia were suicides, and firearm suicides have fallen from about 22% of all suicides in 1992[29] to 7% of all suicides in 2005.[30] Immediately following the Buyback there was a fall in firearm suicides which was more than offset by a 10% increase in total suicides in 1997 and 1998. There were concerted efforts in suicide prevention from this time and in subsequent years the total suicide rate resumed its decline.

    The number of guns stolen has fallen dramatically from an average 4,195 per year from 1994 to 2000 to 1,526 in 2006–2007. This is co-incident with a campaign by police and shooting bodies, such as the Sporting Shooters’ Association of Australia’s ‘Secure Your Gun, Secure Your Sport’ drive, to encourage secure storage of rifles and shotguns (handguns were already subject to strict storage requirements). Long guns are more often stolen opportunistically in home burglaries, but few homes have handguns and a substantial proportion of stolen handguns are taken from security firms and other businesses. Only a tiny proportion, 0.06% of licensed firearms, are stolen in a given year. Only a small proportion of those firearms are recovered. Approximately 3% of these stolen weapons are later connected to an actual crime or found in the possession of a person charged with a serious offence.[31]
    Contention over effects of the laws

    In 1997, the prime minister appointed the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) to monitor the effects of the gun buyback. The AIC have published a number of papers reporting trends and statistics around gun ownership and gun crime, which they have found to be mostly related to illegally-held firearms.[27][32]

    [. . .]

    In 2002 the AIC staged a media event claiming that they had proof of many lives saved, but their research, which was only published months later and is not available on the AIC website, demonstrated only continuing downtrends in gun deaths since many years before the buyback.[34]

    CLASS (The Coalition of Law Abiding Sporting Shooters) in 2003 reported that no benefit-cost analysis of the buyback had been carried out and that scientific debate was politicised and ignored benefits of shooting and costs forced on legitimate owners.[35] The Attorney General’s Department rejected a 2011 Freedom of Information request for benefit-cost analysis or analysis of externalised costs because ‘no such documents exist’.”


  3. In 1996, Australia banned semi-automatics. In the 18 years before, there were 13 mass shootings. Since then, none.

  4. Blouise,

    I’m not insulting your intelligence, but rather your willingness to ignore reality and logic on this issue in favor of emotionalism because children were killed. It’s an aberration in the way you usually think (which is generally quite above average in quality of reasoning). However, the “cultural heritage of mass murder”? Will not be eliminated by eliminating guns. That is rooted in a tradition of violence as a problem solving methodology. Guns are only one of myriad ways to commit violence.

    If you think you can muster support to repeal the 2nd Amendment? Go for it. But what you would get even if you succeeded (which is doubtful – a short list of arguments for the 2nd used by the Founders include deterring tyrannical government, repelling invasion, suppressing insurrection, facilitating the natural right of self-defense, participating in law enforcement, and enabling the people to organize a militia system) are a bunch of negative unintended consequences that result from the simple existence of the amendment itself (like secondary markets turning in to black markets and general insurrection if you tried to seize people’s weaponry).

    If you simply wish to bemoan the gun culture in our society and the violence culture in our society? You’ll have to get in line. How many times have you seen me lambaste trolls who think threatening to kick my ass is a cogent argument? Like mespo said, gripin’ is a lot easier than fixin’. Do I wish that we weren’t such a violent culture? Yep. Sure do. The solution to that though is a much stickier wicket; a complex problem with a complex solution if there is one at all. To think eliminating guns would eliminate our cultural addiction to violence is wishful thinking. And there is one thing about wishful thinking. It is almost universally non-productive.

  5. Gene,


    I used the example of the snowman with the gun to illustrate how deeply embedded in our culture the love of guns and killing is. It is so acceptable that many folk think it’s an appropriate Christmas display to put in their front yard. The love of killing is so deeply embedded in our culture that a manufacturer knew money could be made by offering such a Christmas display for sale.

    I used the example of hunting with bow and arrow to illustrate that guns weren’t necessary to indulge in that activity. Guns simply make it easier to kill an animal and make it possible to kill more animals than one could reasonably expect to kill with a bow and arrow on any given day.

    Guns are about one thing and one thing only … killing. So the Second Amendment makes it acceptable … okay, I get that … it’s a pretty good excuse for killing and certainly goes a long way in ensuring that mass murder continues to be one of our basic cultural heritages.

    Stop insulting my intelligence … I’ve heard it all before and, quite frankly, I’m not the least bit interested.

  6. Elaine M.
    1, December 15, 2012 at 8:00 am

    Maybe Blouise is done listening because she has heard all the arguments that gun advocates always make after a mass murder.


    Yep … exactly.

  7. The argument that we are in danger of abrogating the 2nd amendment by an emotional overreaction to yesterday’s massacre of schoolchildren is not convincing to me. I just don’t think it’s anywhere near realistic given the extreme power of the gun lobby; given that our president has vowed fealty to legitimate gun rights, certainly to protect the rights of hunters to possess weapons. He has not come out strongly on the assault rifle issue, though this might be a good time to address that one.

    I don’t understand the fear of losing the right to possess weapons — reasonably geared to the legitimate societal ‘uses’ of guns. It’s seems like another one of those issues where virtually all other western democracies exhibit a sensible approach to firearms, but the US hews and exceptionalist interpretation of firearm ownership. The absence of reasonable regulation has left open the door to availability and possession of unreasonable weapons, though some no doubt consider that and oxymoron. I’m not so concerned about the linguistic cliches as in the effect. No doubt any weapon can kill, but the failure to address reasonable control seems like a cover for getting to the whole nexus of issues, including appropriate mental health screening and registration, addressed. The whole debate is poisoned and quickly escalate to fearmongering about the second amendment, leaving the debate in the hand of the crazies. (note: I a NOT attacking anyone here with an intention of flaming — I’m tired of the debate and am just stating a pov)

    The ‘occasional’ frequency of massacres is not an argument for banning assault weapons. But the disconnect between such mass killings and any particular weapon or method of killing is not an argument for avoiding reasonable gun control either. IMO

  8. There is in constitutional right to be individually armed with any type of gun! Read the Second Amendment. Too bad our leaders won’t do just that and Stanton up to the gun lobby.

    To. Darren. No one ever said gun control would do away with all violence. That is such a straw man.
    Guns make it possible for weak and cowardly people to do maximin damage that they would never be able to do otherwise .

    Gun control now!

  9. If you are worried about our health then outlaw tobacco smoking. Spray all those hypocrites who itchBay about pot smokers with a firehose. Start with the likes of Boner. Dont go to a doctor who smokes. Dont vote for a politician who smokes. Dont even think about dating a woman who smokes. The hypocrites, the Boners, the doctors, politicians and likely candidates for sex who smoke all stink and all will die coughing and gaging.

  10. Five Lies The Gun Lobby Tells You
    By Zack Beauchamp
    Dec 14, 2012

    America’s seems to be in for another debate over gun regulation after the slaughter at Sandy Hook Elementary School left 27 (mostly children) dead. So it’s worth reviewing five made against regulating gun ownership in the United States:

    MYTH #1: More guns don’t lead to more murders. A survey by researchers at the Harvard University School of Public Health found strong statistical support for the idea that, even if you control for poverty levels, more people die from gun homicides in areas with higher rates of gun ownership. And despite what gun advocates say, countries like Israel and Switzerland don’t disprove the point.

    MYTH #2: The Second Amendment prohibits strict gun control. While the Supreme Court ruled in D.C. v. Heller that bans on handgun ownership were unconstitutional, the ruling gives the state and federal governments a great deal of latitude to regulate that gun ownership as they choose. As the U.S. Second Court of Appeals put it in a recent ruling upholding a New York regulation, “The state’s ability to regulate firearms and, for that matter, conduct, is qualitatively different in public than in the home. Heller reinforces this view. In striking D.C.’s handgun ban, the Court stressed that banning usable handguns in the home is a ‘policy choice[]‘ that is ‘off the table,’ but that a variety of other regulatory options remain available, including categorical bans on firearm possession in certain public locations.”

    MYTH #3: State-level gun controls haven’t worked. Scholars Richard Florida and Charlotta Mellander recently studied state-to-state variation in gun homicide levels. They found that “[f]irearm deaths are significantly lower in states with stricter gun control legislation.” This is backed up by research on local gun control efforts and cross-border gun violence.
    MYTH #4: We only need better enforcement of the laws we have, not new laws. In fact, Congress has passed several laws that cripple the ability for current gun regulations to be enforced the way that they’re supposed to. According to researchers at the Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research, a series of federal laws referred to as the Tiahrt amendments “limit public access to crime gun trace data, prohibit the use of gun trace data in hearings, pertaining to licensure of gun dealers and litigation against gun dealers, and restrict ATF’s authority to require gun dealers to conduct a physical inventory of their firearms.” Other federal laws “limited the ATF compliance inspections” and grant “broad protections from lawsuits against firearm manufacturers and retail sellers.”

    MYTH #5: Sensible gun regulation is prohibitively unpopular. Not necessarily. As the New Republic’s Amy Sullivan reported after the series of mass shootings this summer, a majority of Americans would prefer both to enforce existing law more strictly and pass new regulations on guns when given the option to choose both rather than either/or. Specific gun regulations are also often more popular than the abstract idea.

  11. Gun Sales In 2012 Set Record, FBI Data Indicates
    Posted: 12/14/2012

    The gun business in the United States is thriving and the tragic events on Friday in Newtown, Conn. may likely do little to quell Americans’ spending on munitions.

    The Federal Bureau of Investigation recorded more than 16.8 million background checks for gun purchases in 2012, the highest number since the FBI began publishing the data in 1998. A record number of requests for background checks for gun buyers went through on Black Friday in November, the FBI reported at the time, in part because of fears that President Barack Obama and other lawmakers would tighten gun control laws.

    The FBI does not track actual firearms purchases, and the number of weapons sold could be even higher than the number of background-check calls because customers can purchase multiple guns, USA Today reports.

    If the past is any indication, Friday’s mass shooting will do little to slow the pace of sales. It’s not uncommon for gun sales to see a boost following a mass shooting, as buyers head to stores mostly motivated by self-defense, according to the Christian Science Monitor. In the first four days following the July mass shooting in Aurora, Colo., gun sales increased 41 percent, the CSM reported.

    On Friday some pro-gun groups took to Twitter urging people to buy guns: Conservative pundit Ann Coulter tweeted “more guns, less mass shootings” in the wake of the event.

  12. Elaine,

    Why someone chooses to ignore the reality of a situation isn’t nearly as interesting as the choice itself. The truth, no matter how unpleasant, has the benefit of being the truth. To think you can 1) repeal the 2nd Amendment or 2) go around seizing people’s rightfully owned arms without creating a recipe for death and disaster simply by taking that action is wishful thinking. However, in the discussion of reasonable gun control? I would have no issue with banning “gun shows” and for the very reason your cite mentions. It would not end illegal sales, but it would go a long way to mitigating the problem. This is ultimately the choice: reasonable mitigation in the face of maintaining the right to bear arms. It’s a problem that will never go away though. Guns are just too easy to build when it comes right down to it. They can be built with commonly available materials using commonly available tools and it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do it either. Just someone competent with basic machining and fabrication principles.

  13. Gene,

    Maybe Blouise is done listening because she has heard all the arguments that gun advocates always make after a mass murder.

    Al Qaeda Spokesman Instructs Terrorists To Stock Up At Local Gun Shows
    June 3, 2011

    In a video released today Al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn encourages terrorists to use American gun shows to arm themselves for potential Mumbai-style attacks. Gadahn’s video laid out a new tactic for Al Qaeda to continue their murderous terrorist agenda:

    “America is absolutely awash with easily obtainable firearms. You can go down to a gun show at the local convention center and come away with a fully automatic assault rifle, without a background check, and most likely without having to show an identification card. So what are you waiting for?”

    At gun shows buyers can purchase guns from private sellers without passing a background check. An investigation by the City of New York showed that even buyers that identified themselves as people who “probably couldn’t pass a background check” were able to purchase guns at gun shows. The investigation also showed the wide variety of guns available at gun shows.

  14. Blouise,

    “I don’t want to hear or read a word about why or how legislation wouldn’t work or shouldn’t work or couldn’t work. I’m done talking.”

    More to the point, you’re done listening.

    You can’t uninvent handguns – period – and if we could uninvent things, there are several items that go on the front of that list way before guns, like chemical, bacteriological and nuclear war. And you can’t legislate the issue of (gun) violence away even if you could repeal the 2nd Amendment. In an perfect world, murder wouldn’t happen simply as a matter of conscience. What is more imperfect than our world? Chaos is built into the fabric of the universe. I wish I had a dragon, but I’m not waiting for UPS to deliver it.

  15. Hey: JT. The election is over and Willard the Gypsie lost. Quit picking on Obama for recognizing that The Times They Are A Changing. The 47 Percenters on one side of the aisle dont want no pot in their state and the 47 per cent on the other side of the road dont want no feds in their state busting people for doing weed. That leaves about six per cent. They are in the middle of the muddle. As a six percenter I beleive that the nation should outlaw tobacco.

    Cigarette smoking is dangerous… hazad to your health.
    –Peter Tosh.

  16. I’m not at all interested in the pro gun arguments. I learned to hunt with a bow and arrow … guns were considered non-sporting in my family’s culture.

    But I realize that guns are deeply embedded in the culture of many Americans. I even saw a blowup snowman wearing a hunting cap and carrying a rifle as a Christmas decoration in some bozo’s front yard last week. I seriously thought about getting my bow and deflating the sick f*ck’s display with an arrow but fear of going to jail kept me from doing so … well that and Tex refused to drive the get-a-way car.

    I will vote for anyone who wants to enact strict gun control … anyone.

    I don’t want to hear or read a word about why or how legislation wouldn’t work or shouldn’t work or couldn’t work. I’m done talking.

  17. Gun Advocacy Group Responds: ‘Gun Control Supporters Have The Blood Of Little Children On Their Hands’
    By Igor Volsky on Dec 14, 2012

    While citizens and advocates of gun control are responding to Friday’s horrific school shooting in Connecticut by calling on Congress to enact sensible gun regulations, some gun advocacy groups are blaming supporters of the tighter restrictions for the tragedy.

    Larry Pratt, executive director of Gun Owners of America, issued a statement this evening attributing the massacre to gun regulations, arguing that had weapons been permitted on school grounds, the murders could have been avoided:

    “Gun control supporters have the blood of little children on their hands. Federal and state laws combined to insure that no teacher, no administrator, no adult had a gun at the Newtown school where the children were murdered. This tragedy underscores the urgency of getting rid of gun bans in school zones. The only thing accomplished by gun free zones is to insure that mass murderers can slay more before they are finally confronted by someone with a gun.”

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