The Obama administration is not pursuing the national legalization of marijuana, Vice President Joe Biden said, according to excerpts of an interview released Thursday.
Biden weighed in on the hot-button issue aboard an Amtrak train on the way to an infrastructure event in Philadelphia.
“I think the idea of focusing significant resources on interdicting or convicting people for smoking marijuana is a waste of our resources,” Biden told TIME magazine. “That’s different than [legalization.] Our policy for our administration is still not legalization, and that is [and] continues to be our policy.”
The vice president's remarks come in the wake of President Obama's suggestion that marijuana is not that different from cigarettes and no more dangerous than alcohol.
Obama's comments emboldened supporters of marijuana legalization, but the White House has since moved to squash speculation about changes in federal enforcement.
Still, the president has voiced support for state laws in Washington and Colorado legalizing the drug.
For his part, Biden defended his own role in creating the mandatory minimum policies the Obama administration is now actively trying to undo.
“I am not only the guy who did the crime bill and the drug czar,” Biden said, "but I’m also the guy who spent years when I was chairman of the Judiciary Committee and chairman of [the Senate Foreign Relations Committee], trying to change drug policy relative to cocaine, for example, crack and powder.”