The federal government's annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows the rate of illicit drug use rose from 8% in 2008 to 8.7% in 2009. And the government has decided that the cause of all this snorting and huffing and popping and shooting is marijuana. National Drug Control Policy Director Gil Kerlikowske tells CBS Radio News that young people are being exposed to "mixed messages" about pot because of growing consensus that it has medicinal properties. In other words, they learned it from watching you cancer sufferers.

The government's portrayal of marijuana as a gateway drug is nothing new, but this is: in the interview, Kerlikowske announced that the feds are surrendering in the war on drugs! Or rather, the slogan "war on drugs" is being retired from the battlefield. Kerlikowske straight-up "rejects" the term, and says, "If we approach it with the same level of complexity that we approach things like cancer, I think we're better off than telling the American public, here's a bumper sticker to solve your problem. We have had a focus of a criminal justice lens on drug abuse for quite a while... It should be a blend [that includes prevention and education.]"

So does Obama's drug czar want to give hugs and backrubs to drug lords? No way, José. Kerlikowske says it's a "false argument" to suggest marijuana legalization would reduce cartel violence in Mexico: "Taking one small part of the (cartel) enterprise, marijuana away from them isn't going to change them." Also in his cross-hairs: prescription drugs. The survey found that non-medical use of prescription drugs rose last year to nearly three percent of the population. Overall tobacco use, on the other hand, sank to a new low level of 23.3 percent.

The government's conclusion, that marijuana is a gateway drug, comes on the heels of a report released earlier this month by the University of New Hampshire, which found that while teens who smoked marijuana were more likely to use harder illicit drugs while they're young, the gateway effect was lessened by 21. But the chief of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration says the new report proves "Our strategies of the past appear to have stalled out with generation ‘next.’ Parents and caregivers, teachers, coaches, faith and community leaders, must find credible new ways to communicate with our youth about the dangers of substance abuse." Obviously, we need to bring back anti-drug PSAs like these: