U.S. President Obama says it does not make sense for federal authorities to seek prosecution of recreational marijuana users in states where such use is legal.
He spoke in a television interview with ABC's Barbara Walters airing Friday.
When asked if he supported legalizing marijuana, the president said he was not endorsing that.
"I wouldn't go that far, but what I think is that, at this point, Washington and Colorado, you've seen the voters speak on this issue," he said.
"As it is, you know, the federal government has a lot to do when it comes to criminal prosecutions," Obama added. "It does not make sense from a prioritization point of view for us to focus on recreational drug users in a state that has already said that, under state law, that's legal."
Marijuana remains illegal under federal law. The western states of Colorado and Washington legalized the recreational use of marijuana in ballot measures last month. Other U.S. states have approved the medicinal use of marijuana.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton has voiced support for finding alternative ways to solve the drug problem.
“We could have fighting and killing over cigarettes if we made it a felony to sell a cigarette to smoke," said Clinton in a new documentary, Breaking the Taboo
. "So we legalized them. If all you try to do is find a police or military solution to the problem, a lot of people die and it doesn’t solve the problem.”
The former presidents of Brazil and Switzerland, Fernando Cardoso and Ruth Dreifuss, along with Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos, want to find different ways to solve the global drug problem, such as regulating the trade.
“I think a new approach, at least to try to open up, to break the taboo, is what the world should do," said President Santos in the documentary. He added, "There are many alternatives, including the possibility of legalizing drugs.”