Report: Obama would tackle drug war in second term


(CBS News) Amid continued criticism from the left over the Obama administration's approach to drug enforcement policies, GQ's Marc Aminder reports that the president is planning to bring renewed focus to America's drug war if granted a second term.

The specific policies that might result from such an emphasis remain unclear at present, but the president has in the past expressed dissatisfaction with how America's "War on Drugs" has been carried out.

Mr. Obama has said repeatedly he is not in favor of legalizing marijuana. He has said, however, that the war on drugs has not been effective and that he thinks of drugs as "more of a public health problem."

In a YouTube question and answer session last year, Mr. Obama said the focus on arrests, incarceration and the interception of illegal drugs has not been entirely successful. He said the emphasis should be instead on decreasing the demand for drugs by treating them as other public health concerns like smoking or drunk driving.

The Obama administration has been criticized for cracking down on medicinal marijuana producers across the country - particularly in California - after pledging in 2008 not to interfere with state laws governing the issue.

Pro-legalization activists have complained that the federal government's lack of clarity and decision to raid some medical marijuana providers has resulted in confusion and legal clashes on a statewide level. The number of raids on medical marijuana clinics has increased significantly under the Obama administration, according to Matt Simon, a legislative analyst for the Marijuana Policy Project.

"Obama promised when he was running for office that he would not interfere with medical marijuana programs and that raids would not continue," Simon said. Simon said that raids have continued even as many lawmakers have express confusion how federal policies will be enforced in their states.

"It does seem like something the administration should address," he said. "We can't even tell where this is coming from - whether Obama himself is aware of all the raids."

Mr. Obama faces intense scrutiny on questions related to drugs and the legalization thereof: The president's online Q&A sessions are routinely dominated by questions related to marijuana, and a marijuana-related ballot measure in Colorado could have a significant impact on Mr. Obama's electoral prospects in the state in November's presidential election.