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Obama Advocates Curbing Demand to Fight Drug Abuse

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In a show hosted on YouTube, President Barack Obama said he saw drug abuse as a public health problem and that it should be treated as one, though he does not favor legalization, Reuters reported Jan. 27

Obama told an online audience that it was “entirely legitimate” to question whether the United States' “war on drugs” was working. He said he was a “strong believer” in looking at drug abuse as a public health issue. 

“On drugs, I think a lot of times we've been so focused on arrests, incarceration, interdiction, that we don't spend as much time thinking about how do we shrink demand,” he said.

“In some cities, for example, it may take six months for you to get into a drug treatment program. Well, if you are trying to kick a habit and somebody says to you, come back in six months, that's pretty discouraging.”

Obama pointed to the “huge strides” the country has made on behaviors like cigarette smoking, drunk driving, and the use of seat belts in automobiles as examples of how changing attitudes can improve public health.

“I am not in favor of legalization,” Obama said on the topic of the 2010 voter initiative in California to legalize marijuana, which failed 54 percent to 46 percent.

According to Reuters, Obama said that “it was worth looking at the allocation of resources between law enforcement and health programs,” but that drug trafficking still needed to be addressed.

“We have to go after drug cartels that not only are selling drugs, but are creating havoc, for example, along the U.S.-Mexican border,” he said.

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