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“I can’t nullify congressional law," Obama explained in a Rolling Stone interview this summer. "I can’t ask the Justice Department to say, ‘Ignore completely a federal law that’s on the books.’ What I can say is, ‘Use your prosecutorial discretion and properly prioritize your resources to go after things that are really doing folks damage.’ As a consequence, there haven’t been prosecutions of users of marijuana for medical purposes.”
Congress signaled an unwillingness to change its stance this summer, when the House voted 262 to 163 to defeat a budget amendment aimed at barring the use of taxpayer money to prosecute medical marijuana cases.
Yet both Republicans and Democrats have found political footing on the pot issue in states. Chicago Mayor Rahm Emmanuel (D) switched his views on pot this summer by backing a decriminalization bill that was ultimately approved by the city council. And Republican lawmakers in New Hampshire led an effort to allow marijuana use for medical purposes, though the state's Democratic governor, John Lynch, vetoed the bill.
Such efforts, however, suggest that some "politicians and their political parties are finally beginning to embrace the potential power of the pro-pot vote," writes Paul Armentano on the progressive AlterNet website.