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Surprise At The Colorado Capitol As Obama Says Recreational Marijuana Prosecution Not Urgent

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ABC News
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Screencap from ABC News' interview with President Obama

President Barack Obama told ABC news that he won’t make it a top priority to go after Colorado and Washington state for legalizing marijuana.

In an interview with Barbara Walters, Mr. Obama said voters in Colorado and Washington have spoken and it doesn’t make sense to focus on prosecuting recreational marijuana users.

The news was a surprise to some state officials.

“I knew the discussion was going on with Eric Holder and I was under the impression that they hadn’t decided how they were going to deal with this but they were very concerned about it,” said Larimer County district Attorney Larry Abrahamson.

Abrahamson serves on Governor Hickenlooper’s marijuana task force, which is charged with crafting new marijuana regulation for Colorado

“I think there’s a lot of things that maybe still need to be resolved and at what level it will be enforced,” said Abrahamson.

Others note that the president’s statement was guarded and shouldn’t be seen as a pass for Colorado to do whatever it wants.

“He didn’t say much about commercial, what if you set up a big grow and set up retail? Is that something the federal government will tolerate?” said University of Denver law professor Sam Kamin. “The administration has been hostile to that in the past.”

Kamin is another member of the state marijuana task force, they’ll be reporting back to the state legislature by the end of February. The group will look at a host of issues concerning the implementation of Amendment 64. Those issues include sales, taxes, public health, zoning, and city planning.

Bente Birkeland has been reporting on state legislative issues for KUNC and Rocky Mountain Community Radio since 2006. Originally, from Minnesota, Bente likes to hike and ski in her spare time. She keeps track of state politics throughout the year but is especially busy during the annual legislative session from January through early May.
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