Obama's New Drug Strategy Opposes Legalizing Pot

The Obama administration's newly-released drug control strategy may set up a confrontation between the federal government and the state of California, if residents of the state pass a ballot initiative this year to legalize marijuana.

President Obama today released his administration's first National Drug Control Strategy, which sets up five-year goals for reducing drug use and the problems associated with it.

The strategy states that "this Administration firmly opposes the legalization of marijuana or any other illicit drug."

But this November, Californians will get to vote on a ballot initiative that, if passed, would legalize marijuana in the state, making it the first state in the nation to do so. The measure would permit those age 21 and over to possess small amounts of marijuana, and the sale of it would be regulated and taxed by local governments.

Polls suggest the initiative has a shot at passing. In a Survey USA poll released last month, 56 percent of adults living in California said the state should legalize the use of marijuana, while only 42 percent opposed the idea. The results of that poll mirrored a CBS News poll conducted last month showing that 55 percent of adults in Western states supported legalization, while 41 percent opposed it.

Mr. Obama has in the past expressed his opposition to legalizing marijuana.

The document released today argues that the administration is opposed to the idea because keeping drugs illegal reduces their availability and lessens people's willingness to use them.

"Diagnostic, laboratory, clinical, and epidemiological studies clearly indicate that marijuana use is associated with dependence, respiratory and mental illness, poor motor performance, and cognitive impairment, among other negative effects, and legalization would only exacerbate these problems," the document states.

The Obama Justice Department last year said it would not seek to arrest users or providers or medical marijuana, so long as they are in compliance with state laws.

However, Gil Kerlikowske, director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, last month declined to speculate on what actions the Obama administration would take if the ballot initiative passed in California, the Hill reported.

The strategy released today adopts a multi-faceted approach to combating drug use, focusing on prevention, treatment, enforcement and international cooperation. Some of its five-year goals include reducing the rate of youth drug use by 15 percent, decreasing drug use among young adults by 10 percent and reducing the incidence of drug-induced deaths by 15 percent.

CBSNews.com Special Report: Marijuana Nation
Medical Marijuana Bill Goes to D.C. Mayor
Poll: Just Over Half Still Oppose Legalizing Pot