The Obama administration said Tuesday that it "firmly opposes" the legalization of any illicit drugs as California voters head to the polls to consider legalizing marijuana this fall.
The president and his drug czar re-emphasized their opposition to legalizing drugs in the first release of its National Drug Control Strategy this morning.
"Keeping drugs illegal reduces their availability and lessens willingness to use them," the document, prepared by Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske, says. "That is why this Administration firmly opposes the legalization of marijuana or any other illicit drug."
President Barack Obama has repeatedly expressed opposition to legalizing illicit drugs, though California voters could buck the federal government when it comes to legalize pot.
Voters in the state are set to take up a ballot initiative this fall that would legalize the drug under state law for recreational use. The measure has being sold as a way to close the state's massive budget gap, since the drug would be taxed and regulated for Californians over the age of 21.
A SurveyUSA poll released late last month showed that 56 percent of Californians favor legalization, while 42 percent are opposed, and three percent are unsure. (The poll, confuted April 20th, has a 4.4 percent margin of error.) A Field Poll released April 30th showed similar margins of support.
Kerlikowske has refused to speculate on how the administration would respond if marijuana were legalized in the state, putting it in conflict with federal prohibitions on the drug.
Other parts of the administration's drug control policy include emphasizing prevention and treating substance abuse as more of a healthcare issue than a criminal matter. The plan also calls for more activities to disrupt the production and trafficking of illicit drugs.
The plan also sets some key, five-year goals, among them: reducing the rate of youth drug use by 15 percent, and reducing the rate of drug use among young adults by 10 percent.
"By boosting community-based prevention, expanding treatment, strengthening law enforcement, and working collaboratively with our global partners, we will reduce drug use and the great damage it causes in our communities," Obama said in a statement announcing the release of the strategy. "I am confident that when we take the steps outlined in this Strategy, we will make our country stronger and our people healthier and safer.”