Where does the White House stand on legal pot?

8:07 PM, Nov 29, 2012   |    comments
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In Wednesday's press briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney offered few answers, deferring to the Justice Department.

With some prodding about how the White House would like to see the Justice Department's resources prioritized, Carney took a moment to underscore that the president does view Colorado's new law differently than he views medical pot.

"What the president has said is that we're not going to prioritize prosecutions of people with cancer or other serious illnesses," Carney said. "The president never made a commitment to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and sellers of marijuana. And while the president has asked the Department of Justice to use prosecutorial discretion to best prioritize law enforcement resources, he cannot nullify congressional law."

Amendment 64 supporters say they don't want President Obama to "nullify" the Controlled Substances act, but they do want him to call off the dogs.

"Frankly in other areas the president has ignored federal law," Josh Kappel, with Sensible Colorado, said. "He doesn't nullify it, but he just ignores it."

Kappel points to the president's decision not to import some illegal immigrants who came to the United States as children, and his decision to stop enforcing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) which was aimed at keeping same-sex marriages from being recognized.

If the Justice Department doesn't take a hands-off approach, the marijuana industry worries the administration could sue to block Colorado's law.

It's not entirely clear what that might look like, but marijuana supporters say even if federal law were to win in court, it wouldn't compel Colorado to enforce federal law.

"The truth is the federal government can't force the state of Colorado to criminalize anyone," Kappel said.

Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo) is still awaiting a response from US Attorney General Eric Holder, but is putting together a task force to look at the issues raised by the passage of Amendment 64.

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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