DEA Chief Stonewalls on Marijuana

Jun 27, 2012

You know fed­eral drug pol­icy is bank­rupt when the chief of the Drug Enforce­ment Admin­is­tra­tion is reluc­tant to acknowl­edge even a sim­ple fact that any eighth-grader could con­firm. “Opi­ates are far more addic­tive than mar­i­juana,” Con­gress­man Jared Polis said last week. “That is a fact.” Yet this par­tic­u­lar fact is one that the Demo­c­rat was able to extract from DEA admin­is­tra­tor Michele Leon­hart only after a stun­ning inter­ro­ga­tion in which she acted as if he were demand­ing she choose between Hitler and Stalin on a scale of evil. The rel­e­vant exchange began at a con­gres­sional hear­ing on the DEA’s pri­or­i­ties when Polis asked Leon­hart if crack cocaine (not an opi­ate, obvi­ously) were more dan­ger­ous for a user than mar­i­juana. Leon­hart: “I believe all ille­gal drugs are bad.” Polis: “Is metham­phet­a­mine worse for somebody’s health than mar­i­juana?” Leon­hart: “I don’t think any ille­gal drug …” Polis: “Is heroin worse for someone’s health than mar­i­juana?” Leon­hart: “Again, all the … .” Polis: “Yes, no, or I don’t know. I mean, if you don’t know, you can look this up. … I am ask­ing you a very straight­for­ward ques­tion.” Leon­hart: “All ille­gal drugs are bad.” Polis: “Does that mean you don’t know?” Leon­hart: “Heroin causes an addic­tion. … It causes many prob­lems. It’s very hard to kick.” Polis: “So does that mean that the health impact of heroin is worse than mar­i­juana … ?” Leon­hart: “I think you’re ask­ing a sub­jec­tive ques­tion … .” Polis: “I’m just ask­ing you as an expert in the sub­ject area … .” Leon­hart: “And I’m answer­ing as a police offi­cer and as a DEA agent that these drugs are ille­gal because they are dan­ger­ous, because they are addic­tive, because they do hurt a person’s health.” Polis: “So is heroin more addic­tive than mar­i­juana?” Leon­hart: “Gen­er­ally, the prop­er­ties of heroin, yes, are more addic­tive.” At last. “We have an agency that can’t even acknowl­edge basic sci­en­tific facts,” Polis told me later. Indeed, its offi­cials seem to believe that draw­ing dis­tinc­tions between mar­i­juana and other out­lawed drugs is tan­ta­mount to encour­ag­ing pot’s use — as if intel­lec­tual hon­esty would thrust the agency into the drug legal­iza­tion camp. Yet you can, of course, make a per­fectly good argu­ment against legal­iz­ing mar­i­juana and at the same time admit that you’d be far more alarmed if you found your 17-year-old exper­i­ment­ing with heroin, cocaine or meth than with pot — how­ever much you deplore all teenage drug use. Accord­ing to the National Insti­tute of Drug Abuse, “Heroin is par­tic­u­larly addic­tive because it enters the brain so rapidly. … Car­diac func­tion slows. Breath­ing is also severely slowed, some­times to the point of death.” Surely our blun­der­buss DEA should be able to admit that what­ever the down­sides of mar­i­juana, over­dose deaths are not among them. True, pot’s pro­po­nents have a pro­nounced ten­dency to dis­miss its per­ils, par­tic­u­larly for the young. But the DEA eas­ily out­does them for un-nuanced answers, such as Leonhart’s empty mantra that “all ille­gal drugs are bad.” Maybe this explains why the last two DEA agents in charge of the Den­ver office have taken such clumsy pub­lic stances against Colorado’s med­ical mar­i­juana law, with the cur­rent chief agent say­ing she’d refuse to live in a city with dis­pen­saries. Does that mean she’ll have to leave the state if vot­ers approve a mea­sure on this fall’s bal­lot decrim­i­nal­iz­ing the drug? The DEA is an impor­tant fed­eral agency. It would be help­ful if it weren’t staffed by pro­pa­gan­dists. Source: Den­ver Post (CO) Pub­lished: June 24, 2012 Copy­right: 2012 The Den­ver Post Web­site: http://​www​.den​ver​post​.com/ Con­tact: openforum@​denverpost.​com

c7d6c73ffbdea2.jpg 150x112 DEA Chief Stonewalls on Marijuana

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DEA Chief Stonewalls on Marijuana

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