“We’ve got bigger fish to fry,” Mr Obama said in a nationally televised interview. “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.”
His remarks appeared to open the way to full legalisation in Colorado and Washington, where anyone over the age of 21 could purchase up to an ounce of legally grown and taxed marijuana for their personal use.
Marijuana remains illegal in America under federal laws.
The governors of Colorado and Washington states have been on legal tenterhooks following the legalisation vote on Nov 6, waiting to see if the White House would move to enforce federal laws against the popular will.
Mr Obama’s remarks were the first signal that the federal government would take a hands-off approach.