While delivering his remarks at the 2012 White House Correspondents' Dinner, comedian Jimmy Kimmel addressed the issue of marijuana legalization.
"What is with the marijuana crackdown? Seriously, what is the concern? We will deplete the nation's Funyun supply?" Kimmel said. "Pot smokers vote too. Sometimes a week after the election, but they vote."
"I would like everyone in this room to raise your hand if you've never smoked pot," Kimmel said.
Few hands went up.
Noting the crowd's reaction, Kimmel addressed President Barack Obama directly.
"Marijuana is something that real people care about," Kimmel said.
Obama, who recently said he doesn't "mind a debate" about drug legalization, has increased the crackdown on medical marijuana producers across the nation, including a recent high-profile raid on a California training school. He addressed the crackdown and attempted to clarify his 2008 comments that he was "not going to be using Justice Department resources to try to circumvent state laws [on medical marijuana]" in a recent interview with Rolling Stone:
Speaking with Rolling Stone, the president tried to explain his original comments, claiming that the recent pressure on dispensaries and providers was in line with his intent.
"What I specifically said was that we were not going to prioritize prosecutions of persons who are using medical marijuana," Obama said. "I never made a commitment that somehow we were going to give carte blanche to large-scale producers and operators of marijuana -- and the reason is, because it's against federal law."
The president continued: "I can't nullify congressional law. 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."
Attorney General Eric Holder was a guest of The Huffington Post at the correspondents' dinner. Before it began, a HuffPost reporter noted to Holder that Obama's reference to "congressional law" was misleading because the executive branch could simply remove marijuana from its "schedule one" designation, thereby recognizing its medical use.
"That's right," Holder said.
After Kimmel's speech, a Holder deputy told HuffPost that there was no coordinated war on medical marijuana, but that some individual clinics were breaking both state and federal laws.
This story has been updated with remarks from Attorney General Eric Holder and a Holder deputy.
Ryan Grim contributed to this report.
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