White House Drug Control Policy Director R. Gil Kerlikowske shot down a question Monday about softening views on marijuana policy, saying the administration believes that neither "legalization" nor "decriminalization" are viable solutions to deal with the nation's "problem."

Kerlikowske was giving a speech on declining foreign drug production and domestic consumption rates during a forum at the Center for Strategic & International Studies. After announcing that Colombia had tumbled down the ranks of cocaine-producing nations -- now behind Peru and Bolivia -- Kerlikowske faced a question from an audience member who criticized the administration's continued prioritization of marijuana enforcement despite evidence that it is far less harmful than legal substances such as alcohol and tobacco.

Kerlikowske responded with an aggressive rebuttal against the legalization and decriminalization arguments. He said such an approach would likely lead to increased marijuana use and levels of addiction, which he claimed would put further strain on domestic infrastructure designed to deal with drug dependency. Kerlikowske went on to claim that the administration didn't think "locking everyone up for marijuana" was a solution, but he maintained that "legalization isn't going to solve our drug problem."

While the scientific studies on cannabis dependence have suggested some level of addictiveness, the cost of enforcing a prohibition on marijuana continues to be a common argument against the current policy.

Nearly 758,600 Americans were arrested in 2010 for simple possession. That was about 88 percent of all marijuana arrests that year. In fact, more than half of all drug arrests in 2010 stemmed from marijuana-related offenses. All of this takes a serious economic toll on law enforcement, corrections facilities and the legal system.

Other economic studies have found that legalizing marijuana could produce federal savings of nearly $14 billion. While there have been suggestions that President Barack Obama would scale back the drug war if elected to a second term, actions such as the mounting federal crackdowns on medical marijuana dispensaries have led drug policy reformers to remain skeptical.

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  • Alaska

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/alanasise/6847095796/" target="_hplink">Flickr: alana sise</a>

  • Arizona

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/billward/110338154/" target="_hplink">Flickr: Bill Ward's Brickpile</a>

  • California

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/gerbache/2260207829/" target="_hplink">Flickr: gerbache</a>

  • Colorado

    Also legalized possession by non-medical users. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dok1/520845832/" target="_hplink">Flickr: dok1</a>

  • Connecticut

    Legalized for medical use.

  • District Of Columbia

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bigberto/2770838680/" target="_hplink">Flickr: ~MVI~ (off to coron)</a>

  • Delaware

    Legalized for medical use. Flickr: <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/7749689644/">Doug Kerr</a>

  • Hawaii

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/ricardo_mangual/6006230817/" target="_hplink">Flickr: Ricymar Fine Art Photography</a>

  • Illinois

    Legalized for medical use.

  • Maine

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="www.flickr.com/photos/indywriter/2683524563/" target="_hplink">Flickr: indywriter</a>

  • Maryland

    Legalized for medical use.

  • Massachusetts

    Passed ballot initiative for legalized medical marijuana in 2012.

  • Michigan

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kayoticblue/213316452/" target="_hplink">Flickr: ckay</a>

  • Montana

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/csbarnhill/2633187564/" target="_hplink">Flickr: csbarnhill</a>

  • Nevada

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/http2007/4699361533/" target="_hplink">Flickr: http2007</a>

  • New Hampshire

    Legalized for medical use.

  • New Jersey

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/paulflannery/4021996652/" target="_hplink">Flickr: psflannery</a>

  • New Mexico

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/everyskyline/3134662783/" target="_hplink">Flickr: michaelwhitney</a>

  • Oregon

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/d-powell/2099638403/" target="_hplink">Flickr: digging90650</a>

  • Rhode Island

    Legalized for medical use. Also decriminalized possession of less than one ounce.

  • Vermont

    Legalized for medical use. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/bryanalexander/6129117/" target="_hplink">Flickr: BryanAlexander</a>

  • Washington

    Legalized for medical use. Also legalized possession by non-medical users. <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/rose_braverman/6924724331/sizes/l/in/photostream/" target="_hplink">Flickr: Rose Braverman</a>