In a recent interview with ABC's Barbara Walters, President Obama had this to say about casual users who are now smoking legally under the protection of Colorado and Washington: "We've got bigger fish to fry."
He continued, "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."
What he actually meant, though, is making pro-legalization and pro-access advocates each give their own conflicting opinions on the subject, according to the Eureka, Calif.'s Times-Standard.
Mark Lovelace, a district supervisor in Humoldt County, expressed his reservations about the quote. "A statement to Barbara Walters is far from substantive policy," he said.
"I would welcome any movement from the feds that would allow state and local government to regulate marijuana,” he added. "Even better would be to see not just a hands-off approach, but...a cooperative approach."
But others took his statement at face value. Joe Elford, general counsel for Americans for Safe Access, said, "It's a tremendous step forward. It suggests the feds are taking seriously enough the idea that there should be a carve-out for states with marijuana laws."
However, with federal raids on dispensaries commonplace despite then-presidential candidate Obama's promises to be hands-off when it came to medical marijuana, others aren't so optimistic about the future.
Alison Sterling-Nichols, former Humboldt Growers Association and Emerald Growers Association executive director voiced her doubts about the President and government agencies having "bigger fish to fry."
"Honestly, he said that in '08 when he was running for president about medical marijuana," she said.