During a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart repeatedly refused to admit that anything was more addictive or harmful than marijuana.
Democratic Rep. Jared Polis of Colorado pressed Leonhart on whether illegal drugs like methamphetamine and crack, as well as legal prescription drugs, caused greater harm to public health compared to marijuana. But within a three minute time-span, Leonhart dodged his questions eleven times.
“Is crack worse for a person than marijuana?” Polis, who has called for an end to marijuana prohibition, asked.
“I believe all illegal drugs are bad,” Leonhart responded.
“Is methamphetamine worse for somebody’s health than marijuana?” Polis continued. “Is heroin worse for somebody’s health than marijuana?”
“Again, all drugs,” Leonhart began to say, only to be cut off by Polis.
“Yes, no, or I don’t know?” Polis said. “If you don’t know this, you can look this up. As the chief administrator for the Drug Enforcement Agency, I’m asking a very straightforward question.”
Leonhart said that heroin was highly addictive, but accused Polis of asking a “subjective” question. After being pressed further, she conceded that heroin was more addictive than marijuana, but added “some people become addicted marijuana and some people become addicted to methamphetamine.”
Leonhart was nominated to be the Deputy Administrator of the DEA by then-President Bush in 2003 and confirmed by the Senate in 2004. She became the acting Administrator of the DEA after the former Administrator, Karen P. Tandy, resigned in 2007. Obama officially nominated Leonhart to the position in 2010.
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