Top US drug cop can't tell the difference between marijuana and heroin

Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart, a Bush appointee, was questioned by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) in a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing. Polis asks Leonhart about the relative harms arising from prescription painkillers, marijuana, heroin, and crystal meth. She is incapable of distinguishing between them, and stonewalls on questions regarding whether some substances are more addictive than others. It's a rather astonishing performance, and an amazing example of politicized science -- one of America's top drug cops can't bring herself to say what practically every adult knows: marijuana's harms, whatever they are, are not in the same league as heroin or crystal meth.

“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. You should know this, 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.”

Top DEA agent won’t admit heroin more harmful than marijuana (via MeFi)

Update: In the comments, Rep Polis sez, "So hi! I've been a dedicated Boing Boing reader for many many years, more than I care to say. And I was so excited that *I* am on Boing Boing! So I photographed myself in my Boing Boing shirt, which I wear every day of course, and posted it here. I wanted to get the mention of me in the background but it kinda came up overexposed no matter what I did. Oh well. I'm psyched to be on Boing Boing!"


      1. I realize that fretting about the terrifying Obamunist groupthink is popular; but recognizing that Obama is ‘liberal’ in the sense that he is willing to accept the demographically inevitable RE: Gays and doesn’t have a visceral loathing of poor people, and not in all that many other senses, is actually a perfectly safe position…

        The facts that he hasn’t budged a jot on the terrors of Drugs: Assassin of Youth(tm), and has a veritable enthusiasm for executive power aren’t exactly some giant secret.

        1. According to Wikipedia, if I am reading it correctly, she was originally a Bush nominee whose confirmation was held up until the  Obama administration. She was unanimously approved by the Senate in December 2010. She has been a strong opponent of even researching the possible medical benefits of marijuana, and has a track record of undermining state law regarding medical marijuana.

          What does all this tell us? Well, how many unanimous decisions by the Senate in recent years can you name? With all the Republican blather about state’s right, neither they nor the Democrats give a shit about what the people who elected them think. Fucking representative government in action again.

          1. These kinds of appointees, who were blanched in oil before being confirmed, who sit there truculently parroting inanities, should be removed from office.  They are politics at its worst.

        2.  Obama is actually worse than Bush on medical marijuana – and in direct contradiction to his 2008 campaign promises.

          Since then, the administration has unleashed an interagency cannabis crackdown that goes beyond anything seen under the Bush administration, with more than 100 raids, primarily on California pot dispensaries, many of them operating in full compliance with state laws. Since October 2009, the Justice Department has conducted more than 170 aggressive SWAT-style raids in 9 medical marijuana states, resulting in at least 61 federal indictments, according to data compiled by Americans for Safe Access, an advocacy group.

          1.  Obama is far far worse than Bush. When it comes to the Shrub everyone knew what he was, no surprises there, when it comes to Barack the betrayer Obama, he was the ass hat that turned hope and change into trapped in despair, so actually far worse.

          2. The fact you define the quality of the administration by your emotional response is one of the reasons that we have such crappy governments. It’s not about your feelings.

        1. Why, what a simple and elegant solution, heretofore unconsidered by us single-celled psychonauts!

      2. Read the article. Bush appointee, even if her confirmation was held up until Obama took office. Bush. appointee.

        1. Her appointment could have been pulled by Obama, if that was even true.

          Bush appointed her, but her nomination died in the Senate because Dems put a hold on her nomination because they did not like her policy positions. After he was elected, Obama re-nominated Leonhart, and Holder assured Dems that she would be better on policy. The Dems pulled their hold. She was confirmed. Leonhart belongs to Obama.

          Also: she could be fired at will if Obama really didn’t like her. Holder could refuse to prosecute her arrestees, etc.

      3.  Wrong. She’s a Bush holdover. She was deputy director, then appointed interim director, then, since Obama didn’t want another appointee held up by Congress, he let the appointment become permanent.

        1. missin the point she supposed to be an expert , top of the heap
          she is a puppet and an ex cop , cops dea etc. make money buy busting people for profits , see prisons for profits , asset forfeiture , etc
          LA city just laid off 100 + workers , rape kits havnt been processed , too busy chasing legitimate MMJ stores 
          just sayin

      4. Bush ….Obama….does it really matter? Both parties seldom care about real issues, and keep fighting like kids in a parking lot. There is way to much money involved in the war on drugs to let it go. But we should not be kidding ourselves by saying that its for the good of the people. 

  1. Is heroin more addictive than marijuana?
    All illegal drugs …
    How many fingers am I holding up?
    All illegal drugs …
    Are you an ELIZA program?
    All illegal drugs …

        1.  Yes, it’s real, and it’s like that because he thought he was being filmed for one soundbite, so he rephrased it in different ways so they could pick one to use.

          1.  According to the interviewer, all the details of the interview were demanded by Miliband’s people, and it was an interview to be shared with a pool of news agencies.  His people even tried to get the reporter to give them all the questions he would ask ahead of time.  So it’s not like he mistakenly thought they were just there to get a quick soundbite.

      1.  Yes, but are the strikes wrong or not?  Should both sides come to the negotiating table?

  2. Possibly the perfect example of government hiding behind feigned stupidity and being allowed to get away with it. This is why we have wars, homelessness, trillion dollar bailouts for the most profitable businesses, et al: because we let them get away with it.

    1. Note that she also heads the San Diego DEA office where that kid was recently left for dead in a cell for 5 days.

      1.  Is that where all the LEGAL dispensaries of medical cannibis went? Someone please tell this lady to stop going against what THE PEOPLE VOTED FOR.
        /facepalm on this country.

    1. Well, all illegal numbers are equally addictive, so clearly 6 = 4.  

      I know this because I’m a former police officer.

      1. “two plus two equals five”
        I know this because I’m with the Ministry of Information.

        –Orwell / “1984”

  3. You asked someone a question that the correct answer to could result in them losing money/power.   Comedy ensues.

    It is a failing in most humans, but it is epic when the person who is supposed to be in charge can’t make a case beyond well its illegal, no its illegal, illegal is bad mmmkay.

    1.  One of Douglas Adams’s essays in The Salmon of Doubt tells a story of getting pulled over and stuck in the middle of a dangerous curve on a busy street with his pregnant wife in the car, and trying to explain to the officer that this was far more dangerous than the illegal pass he had been pulled over for in the first place.  The officer repeatedly explained that what Adams had done was dangerous because it was illegal, whereas sitting in the middle of a blind curve was safe because it was legal.

  4. Those are perfectly mendacious answers to perfectly bad (at best) or deliberately misleading (at worst) questions. Effects are quantifiable and measurable; dosage is something we can speak of: but the pharmacopia knows not of this “harmful” word, which is going to be inherently subjective, and dependent on a host of other factors–lifestyle, class, usage patterns, etc.–that can’t be simply denoted (or assumed) by naming the drug alone. Obviously, one could be a lifetime heroin user under optimal conditions and do just fine, as so many did before prohibition; obviously, one could drink a few beers now and then and have this really negatively affect one’s life (drunk driving, for example). Deducing harmfulness from mere potency or chemical makeup alone, without the other factors, is bad science, bad policy, and, sadly, bad political theater. 

    1. “All illegal drugs are addictive.” – Drug Enforcement Administrator Michele Leonhart

      Now that right there is some bad science, bad policy, and bad political theatre. At that point she is not even defending any sort of reasonable position of authority or even defending your job. She is just blatantly lying.

      Here are a couple illegal drugs that have been conclusively proven to not be addictive: N,N-DMT, 5-MeO-DMT, LSD, Psilocybin, O-Acetylpsilocin, etc, etc. Could list all day.

      And the idea that the only impact a chemical has on you in any verifiable way relies completely on the subjective points you claim – lifestyle, class, usage patterns, etc – is just completely absurd and has no real basis in fact. There are many substances in the known pharmacopoeia that affect you in a positive or negative way nearly completely removed from those subjective points.

      In fact, most of our modern medicine relies on this idea. That you can manufacture a medicine that will affect you in a negative or positive way without having complete knowledge of your lifestyle choices. Hooray for chemistry and biology!

      It seems pretty clear that the Rep. Polis was referring to the known chemical effects of these drugs on the general public in well-documented scientific trials. Obviously there is a greater depth to the problems underlying substance use and abuse connected to the subjective points you bring up, which need to be addressed in a healthy way, but this exchange bewteen Polis and Leonhart is not really the best forum for those complex issues. Especially when Mrs. Leonhart is so woefully uneducated in the matter.

      1. Indeed, that would be an absurd claim, but I don’t think I made that. Obviously, there are definite chemical properties that interact with more variable factors: my emphasis of the latter is not an invalidation of the former.

        I would say that your “modern medicine” paragraph is hotly debated in so many social-science fields, which would deny outright any possible complete independence between a chemical substance and the lives of its users from the macro to micro levels. Complete knowledge is not so much the issue as a scientific positivism (aided by lots of $$$) that views medication as a certain good: witness something like the controversy over the possibility of misdiagnosis and wrongful medication in the case of things like ADHD in the US. No substance, no matter how potent, subtle, whatever, affects anyone independent of these factors, especially when so many crucial variables–such as one’s decision to take said substance in the first place, and the infinitely detailed and unique life story behind that decision–are so dependent on these selfsame factors.

        I do see where I could be downplaying those objective factors, of course. Crack is crack, and crack, famously, is wack.

        1. You’re confusing diagnosis with addiction.

          That said, I don’t think Leonhart is “woefully uneducated” on the matter, it’s just that her job depends on defending the status quo via the DEA’s charter.

          1. exactly . addiction is a disease with a cure , no government laws will ever stop addiction or behavior modification . US jails have become a detox of sorts , some addicts use less in prison, so they feel safer in jail.
            If  Amerika had health care some addictions could be treated before they become felonys
            how much of your tax dollars should be spent trying to eradicate substances , rather than substance abuse?

        2.  There are 0 deaths linked to Cannabis, Cannabis is not an addictive substance. (unless you’re also counting ice cream as an addictive substance):) and THC and the other 44-48 Cannabinoids found in Marijuana have a variety of positive effects on virtually all parts of the human body, and seem to mesh perfectly with the Endo-Cannabinoid system found in the human central and peripheral nervous system.

          1. Except for of course, long term memory loss :p But marijuana is (in a a sense) mentally addictive. This kind of addiction is much easier to overcome however.

      2. well said , and we all know oxycontin is a “legal” drug so is tylenol
        both will kill you, cannabis does not kill anyone 

        1. Except Bruce Lee, perhaps. But since that hypothesis is also founded on him having something disturbingly near 0% body fat, I doubt it poses much of a threat in the US.

    2. No. One can easily  “deduce the harmfulness” of an overdose of opiates because they’re deadly to anyone who takes too much.
      But it seems like you want to focus on the psychological/sociological effects, or to throw a shroud over the long term psychological effects by asserting that the complexity of an individual life makes it impossible to make general statements about the psychological effects of “drugs.” Bullshit.
      People more readily form dependencies on drugs that produce euphoria.
      Hallucinogens are more likely to cause a life changing/spiritual experience.
      Frequent use of any drug that limits a person’s emotional or intellectual capacities will interfere with the resolution of conflicts in their life.
      That stuff is just common sense. If it were easier to do research into the long term effects of certain drugs, there might be something more interesting to say. But we don’t accomplish anything useful for national policy by saying “well weed CAN be really harmful in the right context.” So can Dr. Seuss, so can anything, what’s new?

      1.  I’ve seen what happens when kids get the idea into their heads to experiment with green eggs and ham! Let me tell you it isn’t pretty, and I’ve never seen one yet that didn’t get the idea directly from the malignant narcissist that calls himself Dr. Seuss!!

    3. “but the pharmacopia knows not of this “harmful” word, which is going to be inherently subjective, and dependent on a host of other factors-”

      And yet alcohol is clearly harmful to families and society , and tobacco is also harmful, yet both are legal. So it seems legality has nothing to do with harmfulness.

      I’d really like to know how in the world alcohol is legal, given the current standards for illegal substances.

      1. Because the attempts to outlaw it made it painfully obvious that it’s impossible to extricate from a culture where it’s been allowed since prehistory. On the other hand, you can’t drink it on public ground, they keep raising the drinking age, and there are a ton of restrictions on where you can even advertise alcohol — to say nothing of tobacco. And it’s illegal to smoke inside commercial or public buildings in my state.

        Hell, they even outlawed those little Asian jello candies with a piece of fruit in the middle. Because babies choke on them. I used to love those. Jello candies, I mean. I’ve always hated babies. [obvsjoke]

        But of course, being “foreign” makes any substance 100x more dangerous, as it originally did with marijuana. I’d be less surprised if they go back to prohibition of alcohol than if MJ ever gets legalized.

  5. Waiting now for the petition calling for her resignation. Time to fire a bad government employee. I’ll sign it, and donate to whoever puts it up first.

      1. So? In the face of a shitty reality, change is the only hope. Same goes for the (US) Presidential election. Leonhart sure ain’t gonna be helping things by staying where she is.

        1.  I thought that “In the face of a shitty reality,” drugs are what people turn to…..

          Since the US as a nation can’t seem to improve their reality, I say let them take drugs to dull the pain and forget the mistakes.  Since positive change is prohibited, fuckit, let’s all get high.

          1. lucky for you CVS is waiting for you and the liquor store is open till midnight , but the cannabis shops all have DEA watching so skip that one , go for the oxycontin FDA says its safe

        2.  Assuming that electing a different person from the modern, two-cum-one-party corporatist system equates to real change is the first and biggest mistake. They’re just deck chairs on the Titanic.

          Until a legitimate third party gains enough traction with our jaded voting public to make them consider their candidate a possible winner, there will be no change.

          This was the biggest failure of the Occupy movement. They had within their power a chance to align people across parties on the things we’re all mad as hell about, and to channel that into a political party. But the “leaders” of Occupy were too inexperienced and too partisan, too aimless and satisfied just to have a hippie movement experience. There was a short period where an Occupy Party could have galvanized the people. But that moment passed, and now as a country we are again lost.

      2. “Remember, you cannot be both young and wise. Young people who pretend to be wise to the ways of the world are mostly just cynics. Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. Because cynics don’t learn anything. Because cynicism is a self-imposed blindness, a rejection of the world because we are afraid it will hurt us or disappoint us. Cynics always say no. But saying “yes” begins things. Saying “yes” is how things grow. Saying “yes” leads to knowledge. “Yes” is for young people. So for as long as you have the strength to, say “yes’.” 
        ― Stephen Colbert

        1. Be snarky if you want, but there is damn little shown by the Obama administration to indicate that a better choice would be picked. IMHO, it’s best to have someone who appears incompetent over someone who is competent.

  6. It freaks me out a little that Rep. Polis appears to be without the coating of slime found on most species of politician.

    1.  yeah, too bad you can see the rest of the pack turning on him in the background.

      they can’t let honesty infiltrate their ranks or it would be the end of them all.

  7. How do so many people fail so horribly at putting something on youtube with a decent volume level?

    Seriously. It’s the only thing you should get right and most people fail it.

  8. I am of two minds on this.  I agree with those who point out the obvious absurdity of her lack of answers, but I also understand that her position prevents her from answering. She’s not an idiot, of course she knows that the congressman is correct, but she can never admit this in her position.

    That Rep. Polis certainly knows this also makes it seem like a cheap point he’s making.  What’s she supposed to say?  She can’t give him his point and keep her job.

      1. The truth is a threat to her job. There’s a quote out there, something something “…when their livelihood depends on not knowing it.”

        1.  “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”

          Upton Sinclair,

          I, Candidate for Governor: And How I Got Licked

    1. Thank you for posting this.  She is in a position where to answer honestly would mean she would be immediately fired.  She doesn’t have the power to change which drugs are legal or illegal, so she has to pretend as if all illegal drugs are equally bad.  The only question for me then, is why doesn’t she quit?  I’d like to think that if I faced a choice between my integrity and my employment I wouldn’t hesitate … but it’s easy for me to say that from this comfy armchair.

      1. However, by the same token she *can* affect discourse in a huge and history-changing way, but she’d have to risk sacrificing herself. By her performance here I think we can be confident that she doesn’t have the constitution for something like that.

        1. Which in my opinion should be a characteristic of anyone with any government assigned power. They should all be rebels, whistle blowers and instigators.

      2. I think perhaps this is an internal bargain that anyone in law enforcement has to make with themselves.  It’s made obvious in this case, but even a patrol officer has to come to terms with it I guess.

        My main issue is that people percieve ignorance here where there is none.  She knows the difference, and she knows we know she can’t say it.  And Cory’s disingenuity with the headline is unbecoming.

        1. I can’t agree.  As long as she can’t bring herself to say it, the headline is literally true.  She may know the difference.  But she can’t tell it.  And we can’t tell if she knows. 

          A drug czar here in the UK was fired – precisely for speaking basic facts about drugs, against politician’s orders.  A few more like that, and the idiotic policies would be forced to change.  And while she doesn’t have the nerve to speak, she’s part of the problem, and deserves the flack.  After all, she chose her job.  If she couldn’t face doing the right thing, she could have chosen not to be in the position of needing to.

          Ultimately, we are our actions.

          1. You over estimate the power of truth.  If the US or UK went through a hundred people in a position like this that all spoke the truth I doubt it would change anything.

            Politicians don’t care about the truth nearly as much as they care about being re-elected and where/whom they can keep getting pay outs from.  When the “war on drugs” stops being profitable for people in government is when you’ll see policy change.

            ie. If you want governmental change, make the case that taxing the shit out of it earns them more profit and a new industry to over see.

          2. (sorry for out-of-order; we’ve hit the reply limit.)

            I didn’t say the truth could cause change (you’re right; politicians don’t care.)  The *embarrassment* can, however.  Firing one drug czar is forgettable, but firing ten hurts party ‘image’ and election chances.  If they had more trouble finding one who *wouldn’t* shut up and do as they’re told, it would be *much* harder to get away with it.

            Ultimately they depend on fanning ignorance and fear, to sustain the prosecute-all-the-druggies voting base.  Authority figures that refuse to do so can greatly undercut that.

          3. bcsizemo: A hundred resignation/firings sure would change things, since it would illustrate that the administration doing the hiring and firing couldn’t find a good candidate and would thereby reflect badly on the superiors.

        2. And Cory’s disingenuity with the headline is unbecoming.

          You really think that Cory’s headline is a bigger problem than this blathering piece of shit lying in order to prop up the murderous war on drugs? You have some seriously deranged priorities.

          1.  It seems like the general BoingBoing position is often, “Take this seriously, but don’t take us seriously.” Sort of the blog version of the Jon Stewart show. But I think sometimes y’all cross the line from tongue-in-cheek to sensationalism, and that Jon Stewart vibe starts sounding more like the New York Post. It’s times like those that I feel you might need an editor-in-chief to protect the general tone of BB.

          2.  No, I don’t think that at all.  I wasn’t making any sort of comparison.  But I do believe that Cory was saying something he knows is not true.

        3. Not a fucking excuse.  Her self-interested lying to promote a thoroughly evil agenda just so she can keep her job is unbecoming.

          1.  -Hmmm… this makes me wonder how to get Noted! myself.  Perhaps if I suggest that Noted! seems a bit wankery?  
             -Oh no, better not say that, it might get Noted!  
             -Ooo, but wouldn’t it be cool to get Noted!  It’d be all rebellious and all… 
             -But no, people would laugh… 
             -But yes, say what you think!  
             -No, don’t say anything against beautiful BoingBoing; if you don’t like it, just don’t come back.  
             -But I do like it.  
             -Stop this, you fool, now you’re just being incoherent.  
             -Well, what d’you expect? I’m both scared of and entranced by the thought of being Noted! – it’s confusing. 
             -Shut up and go to bed…

        4.       That’s your main issue? From my perspective, you may have a few more that warrant greater analysis.
               Regarding the intended behaviour of the authority in question, I’ll paraphrase H. S. Thompson. ‘Fucking Nazi.’
          Oh yeah, I’m fairly certain that, in this instance, Thompson would also tell Godwin to shove it.

          1. I think it might, yes. I disagree with the implication that she doesn’t know the difference. Of course she does, we know she does, and she knows we know she does.

      3.  actually she was called before them to relay the facts honestly, she should be fired for failing to do that and being intentionally decetful.

        how she enforces the policies that are law is not the same as presenting factual evidence before congress when asked to do so.  she would not be fired for that.

        who would someone in her position be fired by?

        1. “who would someone in her position be fired by?”

          I assume this is a real question, not a rhetorical one.  If I’m mistaken, I apologize.  

          Obviously if she answered honestly in this hearing it would be big news.  “Obama Nominee Contradicts Administration Policy During Hearings”  Reporters and hard-core drug warrior politicians would call upon the President to either repudiate her or clarify his policy.  In an election year, Obama won’t pick a fight on this issue.  Leonhart would be out in an instant, nomination withdrawn.  And maybe that’s good, I don’t know.  Maybe whoever is next in line would be better (though I doubt it).  But that’s the choice she faces – toe the line or quit.  She’s toeing the line.

          1. Yes it was a real question.

            I knew the position is appointed by the current president, but i didn’t know if the position was terminated by the president as well.

            Thanks for the info.

          2.  She wasn’t appointed by the current president, but can he fire her ass? 

            I doubt he can. 

        2.  Exactly, I remember seeing a lot of US Generals called before various committees and asked about the wars in Iraq and Afganistan, some of them gave very blunt and unpopular reports of what was happening, and some of them were subsequently replaced, which hurt their careers. However them speaking out against the status qou advanced the public’s cause of knowing what the fuck their government was doing while saying “trust us.”

        3. With all the noise about fast and furious right now, and the AG’s complicity, and partisan whinging that he and BO perjured themselves when responding to the congressional subpoena;  you’d think they’d be on the look out for any insincere or false testimony in the hope that they could make another fucking circus in this election cycle.

        4.  While Executive Branch agency heads require Senate confirmation prior to appointment, the agency heads can be fired at will by the President.

          To the mod: I realize a similar reply was deleted, but this is a direct response to a question posted, and in my opinion imparts information not in my other replies.

          1. Yeah, three of your comments consisted primarily of the exact same paragraph.

      4. I’m sorry, she has nearly sole authority to change what drugs are illegal or legal. She can move them up and down the enforcement schedule. In this area she is as powerful as the whole of congress surrounding her. Both the executive branch and legislative branch have delegated a great deal of their authority into her office. Congress can add drugs to the schedule but she can move them including dropping them. This is the person who determines how dangerous a drug is and she is unable or unwilling to do that.

        She does this in consultation with the FDA but something has long been broken about the system. Marijuana is listed as schedule I (completely illegal with no medical use) while Cocaine is Schedule II with accepted medical use. To be clear cocaine is in the right place with a few medical uses, I’m not taking it away from a doctor who needs it, Mj should be moved below it.

        I would have grilled her harder. Ask how much she spends on marijuana enforcement, prosecution, and jailing people. How much does the whole government spend? How many people in her organization are kileld on this? How many total law enforcement officers? How many total civilians? how many criminals? How many lives did that save? How many addictions did that prevent? What health outcomes were achieved? I would have asked her under oath and I would have got her office to put it in writing.

        1. “I’m sorry, she has nearly sole authority to change what drugs are illegal or legal.”

          The cossacks work for the czar, my friend.  What do you think would happen if Leonhart did any of the things you suggest without presidential authorization?  She would be fired.  Without question.  No change will come until elected (not appointed) officials decide to risk some political capital and change the policy.  Realistically, that means MAYBE after the election.

          With regards to your line of questions, I absolutely endorse that.  The best thing that advocates of reform can do right now is raise questions and highlight the contradictions.  Hopefully that will move the window of “respectable discourse” and get people talking and thinking.  Like we’re doing right now!

      5. “She is in a position where to answer honestly would mean she would be immediately fired.”

        That is the most important lesson to be learned from the exchange.

        And it is not limited to Congress or government.

        When people cannot engage in honest exchanges how are any problems going to solved?

      6. when they waste enough money on non-issues she will be laid off like the teachers and the rest of the budget cuts

    2. She has her talking points and she’s sticking to them. Safe, butt-covering talking points. Of course they are crap, but then political talking points often are.

    3. That’s not even remotely an excuse.   Nuremberg anyone?  (And before you call Godwin on me, think about all the people rotting in prison because people like this evil sack of shit don’t care about anything except keeping their jobs.)

    4.  And meanwhile hundreds of thousands of people rot away in cages because no one admits what they all know.

    5.  “What’s she supposed to say?  She can’t give him his point and keep her job.”

      She is supposed to tell the truth. Fuck her job. It’s not like they’re going to take her out back and execute her afterwards.

      1. She is supposed to tell the truth.

        If everyone who takes this job gets fired for telling the truth, the job will be so humiliating that nobody will take it. Which is fine because Mouth Of Sauron is not a legitimate and valuable role in government.

    6. How many millions of lives are going to be ruined and destroyed by the drug war?  Of course she can tell the fucking truth.  You damn well can judge someone who lies to save their job at the expense of millions of lives.  She is scum and shit.  I sure as shit hope that if given the choice between inflicting destruction upon millions of people world wide and my fucking salary, I would have the guts and integrity to tell the truth and if it gets me fired, just find another fucking job.

    7. she should answer ” ask a DR or a scientist ” she is a public servant  period
      cannabis is not a “dangerous narcotic” alchohol and tabacco are any idiot knows this , I hope

    8. Of course she can admit it. She may be encouraged not to by her superiors, but her choice to parrot nonsensical gibberish is her choice and her choice alone.

      I know I’m being completely unrealistic, but it’s the way it should be.

  9. Wow, the head of the DEA isn’t an expert on technical differences between various types of drugs.  Darn.  If only her job had NOTHING TO DO WITH THAT AND EVERYTHING TO DO WITH ENFORCEMENT.

    1. Meth is more addictive than pot, this means maybe I should allocate more enforcement towards catching meth makers right now and stop the cycle.
      All drugs are bad wildly run around and grab anything that looks like drugs fast!

      You don’t have to be an expert, but you should be aware which ones are worse and therefore need quicker enforcement actions happening.

    2. Are you saying that she has no power how the war on drugs is enforced?  I can’t believe anyone could make such an argument given the authority maintained by the executive branch since 9/11. 

      Not only could she direct all resources away from marijuana interdiction administratively, under the Controlled Substances Act, the DEA (and HHS) control where drugs are placed “scheduled.” If she just moved to re-schedule pot from schedule I to a schedule II or lower where it could be legally prescribed.  Now, she can’t do that alone, but, legally, YES, she has a hell of a lot of say in the matter…more than the President, although he could fire her I suppose.

      Just to give an example of discretion, Eric Holder, another cabinet sec. issued a memo telling DA’s to de-priorize prosecution of pot. That has been ignored–apparently…no one is quite sure why–but the point is Polis has a great deal of power and to pretend her hands are tied is either a cop-out or a fundamental misunderstanding of her position.

    3. I can only imagine that you’ve never worked at any job that involves more responsibility or expertise than a convenience store clerk, or you would see how utterly ridiculous that statement is.  If that were true, why not just have a 25k/year clerk from a temp agency do her job?

    4. DEA is responsible for scheduling drugs in this country. It probably would be a good idea if it were led by a doctor, not a cop. (What am I saying, it should be scrapped.)

  10. It’s funnier if you imagine her saying “I believe all sex is dirty” over and over.

  11.  She wasn’t hired for her knowledge of drugs, and she doesn’t need any. She can tell the difference between poor brown people and good upstanding citizens, and that’s all that matters.

    1. I hate to be the guy that ruins a juicy snarky comment (it’s a good one), but you’re actually right.

      Jails are full of young black pot smokers, while an equal number of middle class white pot smokers light up by their pools. It’s not even really a war on drugs.

  12. Marijuana isn’t “addictive”. Addiction is a physiological dependency on a drug, and marijuana — unlike opiates and nicotine — does not produce that sort of dependency. Now, a person might develop a strong psychological craving for pot, but that’s more akin to my cravings for fresh alfonso mangoes or grilled uncheese sandwiches — it’s not an “addiction” in a clinical sense.
    You’d kind of hope someone in her position would know that.

    1.  I don’t disagree, but addiction is besides the point.  Pot is illegal because it allows people to feel good without contributing to society.  See Tim Leary’s “The Politics of Ecstasy.”

      Actually, that’s probably way too simplistic, drugs and sex always seem to be controlled by governments and religions since time immemorial.  It seems like the policies, regulations and taboos are there to justify the need for a hierarchy, and have little to do with particular prohibitions.

      The central problem with drug policy is that no one but yourself should control what you put in your own body, and for some reason people have trouble with this idea.

      1. The standard is harm.  As someone who watched a sibling struggle with drug use at an early age, I can testify that there is very real social harm associated with drug use.  So no, it is not as simple as “nobody should be able to control what I put in my body.”  There are a lot of social concerns here that are vastly more complex than that.  Framing the argument that way is far worse than this lady’s blind resistance.

        1.  So, like alcohol, regulate and control it, and jail the people who abuse it. Many would argue that sharing a joint with friends, just like sharing a pint with friends, isn’t  an overly dangerous activity, if you can trust where you’re buying your mind-altering substance from. You can make anything dangerous, including grilled cheese sandwhiches, if you over-indulge.

          And perhaps if marijuana use was seen as a health issue and not a police one, underage users (who arguably may cause more damage to themselves than those over 25 [when the pre-frontal cortex stops developing]) could get medical/psychological help, rather than risk being thrown in jail if anyone tells the authorities what they’re doing.

        2. If the standard is harm, than cigarettes and alcohol should be illegal, not marijuana.

          And that is the point being made here: some drugs are more dangerous to individuals and society than other drugs.  Where we put our priorities should be based on that fact, if we’re going to have a “drug war”.

          1.  When are wars ever based on facts? 

            If they started using facts they might as well try and use reason to solve problems. 
            Then where would we be? 

      2.  “Pot is illegal because it allows people to feel good without contributing to society”

        Fine, but therefore please explain why alcohol ( both harmful and addictive) IS legal.

        1. maybe it’s exactly because sustained alcohol use isn’t sustainable. can’t have a drug without consequences after all; pot is close, so it has to be criminalized.

          1. In fact, it happens unintentionally quite a bit, although you might not want to drink it.

        1. Daiya will soon be labeled Class A Delicious, with mandatory minimum sentencing applicable.

    2.   She does. And as odd as it sounds, to me at least, I have known people so dependent on pot that they pretty much lost everything. It completely perplexes me, since pot is not usually something you’d associate with that sort of thing… and I’m not disagreeing with you.. I’m just saying that psychological dependence can be just as bad as physical dependence for some people…  (but that’s no excuse for making it illegal considering how rare it is, etc) 

      1.  Could you direct me to some of these people so “dependent” on “pot” that they’ve “lost everything” please? A week from tomorrow I’ll celebrate 35 years of enjoying cannabis. In those 3 and 1/2 decades I’ve met a lot of other people who also choose to enjoy cannabis but I’ve never met one who had “lost everything”.

        But you are correct, the definition of the word “addiction” has been changed so that it now includes cannabis. The prohibitionist parasites got annoyed with always having it pointed out that cannabis wasn’t addictive so the solution was to dilute the word. The same thing’s been done with the word victim, because they got tired of always hearing about victimless crimes.

        1. If ‘losing everything’ is a legitimate reason for prohibtion, why are credit cards still available?

      2. I know people who have “lost everything” to MMORPGs. I know people who have “lost everything” for love. Humans have managed to “lose everything” to every single conceivable activity and item. If the burden of proof that something needs to be made illegal is that one asshole with an addictive personality “lost everything” to it, we need to ban, sex, food, romance, MMORPGs, credit cards, loans, TVs, stamp collections, coin collections, model trains, dolls, action figures, comics, cars, trucks, motorcycles, wikipedia, porn, and the god damn mother fucking internet.

        “I know a guy” isn’t a reason to perpetuate the vile, repulsive, and destructive “war on drugs”. For every loser who is so screwed up that they manage to “lose everything” to smoking too much pot, as opposed to “losing everything” to something else, there are a hundred people who truly “lost everything” when the state skull fucked them for possessing a drug that, in the grand scheme of things is harmless, especially when compared to a perfectly legal Big Mac and Bud Lite.

      3. Someone that gets themselves in that state with weed, and weed alone has bigger issues, and it would be those bigger issues that are causing the problems.

        I think you’ll find those are cases of incorrectly identifying the causation.

  13. She is not an idiot.  She is a hostile witness avoiding a question because the answer undermines the corrupt policy she is paid to defend.  Look right up the chain of command and you’ll find the same thing all the way to the top.

    The people who want to steer the government are the last people who should be given the helm.

    1. So you’re saying everyone demanding something be done to get out of this rut and corruption are unfit based on that fact alone?

      1. No, I’m saying that those whose drive is strong enough to propel them all the way to the White House, are generally those whose ego makes them unfit for the job.  Those who stop at lower levels are either reasonable, and therefore lack the ruthlessness necessary to make the top. Or they’re sufficiently ruthless, but not smooth enough to hide it long enough to gain the highest offices.

        Wars begin with power-hungry leaders, not from us peasants trying to eke out a living.  The Drug War is no different.

        1. Fair enough. Just wanted clarification since I know a fair number of people that want to get into the political game to try getting all this mess stopped.

          Nevermind my inner cynic thinks they’d never get anywhere due to honesty and upfrontness. It’s hard to not be cynical.

  14. Has she been sampling some of the drugs in question?! 

    Something seems to be impairing her cognition severely.

  15. Why is Bush’s DEA Sec. still in the cabinet?  Shouldn’t Obama have picked his own person by now?

    This is an example of how inscrutable Obama’s first term has been. I don’t know if this Polis is still there because Obama supports the war on drugs and was lying about a desire to de-prioritizing marijuana and reform the drug war, or if the Senate would block any appointment and he’s therefore being held  hostage by Congress.

    I don’t mean this as an anti-Obama screed, but I seriously don’t know if he’s the victim of a racist Congress, if he’s just impotent to really change things, or if all the big change talk was just so much campaign BS. 

    tl;dr  Why does Obama have a drug warrior running the DEA when he made such a big deal about the need for reform when he was campaigning?

    1. considering that the DEA and drug arrests disproportinatly and unfairly target young black males, i’d think as a black man himself that would be one of the first things he’d do when he became president.  not to mention that he admits to using when younger.

      it would have been one of the first things i would have done if i were him.

    2. Maybe you haven’t heard, but the Senate has been stonewalling even the least controversial, most technocratic executive branch appointments.  When Obama has tried to nominate someone even slightly progressive, like Elizabeth Warren or Dawn Johnsen, they’ve been blocked out of hand.

      It’s even worse for judicial appointments.  Basically, the Senate Republicans are trying to obstruct the function of government as much as possible, and they are succeeding.

  16. So hi! I’ve been a dedicated boingboing reader for many many years, more than I care to say. And I was so excited that *I* am on boingboing! So I photographed myself in my BoingBoing shirt, which I wear every day of course, and posted it here. I wanted to get the mention of me in the background but it kinda came up overexposed no matter what I did. Oh well. I’m psyched to be on boingboing!

    1. Unless Pelosi posts a reply in her BB shirt, I’m gonna be sooo jealous of the constituents of the 2nd district of Colorado.

      1. We could probably gets Hillary to do it. She was channeling Dame Edna during a swearing in the other day.

    2. Thank you so much for fighting the good fight and standing up for what is right. I wish more of your colleagues had the same convictions.

    3. You are right up there with all the other Super Heroes in my book (Superman,etc.). I am a big fan of truth, justice, and the American way. Please keep up the excellent work that you are doing. You have renewed my faith in humanity and the Congress.

  17. This lady is an idiot. Plain and simple. Makes sense since our drug policy is idiotic.  This is why I blow off a great portion of the laws in this country.

  18. “Brawndo’s got what  plants need.”

    …..”But why has Brawndo got electrolytes?”

    “Because that’s what plants crave!”

    1.  Idiocracy is so dead on it’s scary.  I really think we may end up with porn star, mma champion “running” things in the not too distant future.

  19. Well, the person has a clear duty then.  If all illegal drugs are harmful, then all drugs should be legalized.  Then all drugs will magically become not harmful, just as the legal alcohol and tobacco are completely harmless and non-addictive now.

  20. “I believe all illegal drugs are bad…”

    How informed. I suppose if coffee were to be made illegal then caffeine would also be bad. Law lady thinks that laws make things good or bad, completely ignoring critical thought, morals and science.

    I wonder if due to the way in which we hire (and promote) police pretty much everyone with any power in the force has far reached their level of incompetence.

    1.  If she were a character in Brazil, I’m pretty sure she would be filmed eating the fucking menu, while belching out the word ‘Delicious’ with every swallow.

    2.  Unfortunately this is the thinking of many Americans; it’s bad because it’s illegal. They seem to think that the laws are natural laws.

      1. If only it were just A,Eric’s that thought this way. I think I’d apply the label ‘uninformed masses’.

        That’s supposed to read Americans up there by the way, but I thought it read nicely the way autocorrect intended.

  21. I call bullshit. Rep. Polis is passing the buck, insisting the DEA do something that Congress hasn’t the guts to do. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug because Congress declared it so. If Rep. Polis is so keen to see that marijuana use be treated sanely, that is, as less dangerous than many other drugs the DEA is tasked with pursuing, then he should be pushing Congress to take marijuana off Schedule I.

    As it is, he’s merely abusing an official trying to do the job that Congress hired her to do.

    1. He’s not passing the buck, he’s trying to make a stir about it, any way he can, and that’s a lot more than you can say.    Also, I wouldn’t call trying to get a straight answer out of someone who’s lying “abusive.”   

      1. You mean any way he can where he doesn’t directly state that he wants marijuana reclassified.  It’s always better to make someone else look bad to promote your agenda then to draw negative attention to yourself about it.

        1. I think there are all kinds of rules of order in Congress that mean, among other things, that in that situation, he couldn’t really say he wants it declassified. He would have to introduce a motion, get it out of committee, etc, before he would have a chance to say that in front of Congress.  He was making a stir about it the way he could in that situation.   Also, he’s here on the thread, so maybe you could ask hime whether he wants it declassified.

          While we’re at it, though, making that sack of shit and anyone associated with her agenda look bad is a great thing to be doing under any circumstances, as far as I’m concerned, so I really don’t see why you have a problem with it, unless you’re on her side and are just trying to come up with weaselly reasons to make him look bad.

    2. Congress did place it as schedule I, but the DEA and HHS can change it upon petition. Under the Controlled Substances Act the DEA accepts the petition and can request a change from the director of HHS. If they were to agree it would be re-scheduled.  They could even remove it from scheduling altogether.

      And, let’s not forget the more obvious control she has dedicating resources for interdiction. She could simply prioritize every other drug as more important.

      The guy was rude, but what’s a little rudeness when so many people’s lives are deeply affected by keeping this moronic status quo.

      1.  Rude?  I thought he showed incredible restraint.  I’d have been tempted to go Lewis Black on her.

    3. Her response came as quite a shock to me. This was a “hearing” meaning that we (the Judiciary Committee of the House of Reprentatives) were engaged in oversight of the DEA. I was expecting her to recognize that marijuana has a different risk profile than heroin, and then carry that over into a discussion of prioritization (eg, shouldn’t we go after drugs that harm health more with the limited resources we have); alas, we couldn’t get past what I thought the head of the DEA would acknowledge as basic scientific fact.

      1.  That’s a good case for somebody else to be in charge of schedule classifications besides the DEA. Conflict of interest prevents objective scientific scrutiny for rescheduling. There is no discernment. All drugs are the same – all are bad.

      2. Keep banging your head against that brick wall, someone’s got to and eventually we’ll get through.

        I’d love to get involved with politics, but I don’t think I’d last 5 minutes without causing an international incident.

      3.  Do you not swear in those y’all hear? 

        … the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, … 

    4.  Is she unable to have an opinion?  I don’t believe that for a second.  I believe she is corrupt.

  22. Why do they insist on keeping marijuana illegal? Is it so they can catch all the “undesirables”.  Is this really the elephant int he room?

    1. One perspective holds that weed is illegal because its use is a primary (though not general) indicator of critical analysis. Humans that employ critical analysis are suspect, because they are more difficult to control through semantic-time binding reality models (see: Robt. Anton Wilson, T. Leary). That the above claim cannot be scientifically generlized should be noted. To sum it up in a casual way, during an interview with the Wire (, Kim Gordon once recalled some basic sexism in the music industry, then summed it up by saying ‘just because you smoke weed doesn’t mean you’re a fucking hippy’. Truer words have been rarely spoken!

      1. and that “perspective” is almost as full of bullshit as the drug war itself. self-deluded hippies who cannot face the fact that their chemically-induced faux-insight has no bearing on reality, and thus ignore the real evils of the world just to prop up this emotion.

        1. That’s not as bad as blindly following Government/corporate propaganda and never questioning their version of truth. It often has no bearing on reality and thus gets relegated to the bottom of the priority list. Through blind agreement one ignores the real evil of the lies one is pretending to be part of.

    2.  And I suppose the beer, wine, and liquor lobbies pay legislators well for their support.

    1. Thanks for the info, it is interesting.  Nonetheless, it really is buck passing to bring up legalization when the DEA and HHS are the ones who schedule drugs.  Although I favor legalization, the discussion really centers on regulation and the allocation of resources.

      At any rate, the clip is useful to see just how impossible it’s become to defend marijuana prohibition.

      1. How are they gonna change it’s scheduling, when congress has forced them to maintain that it’s a dangerous and addictive drug?  And the FDA can’t even study it so there’s scientific proof of it’s suitability for medical use.  

        1.  See my post in reply Smoobly up above.

          And again, sorry to repeat myself, but it bears repeating:  she gets to decide how the whole DEA is run. She puts so many officers in the marijuana division, etc.

          Is she the biggest problem? No. Congress could change this if they wanted to.  Still, she’s certainly someone with power to do something about it, and she’d rather be made to look like an idiot than pursue logical reform.

        2.  Well, I don’t see the Government outlawing Morning Glory seeds because they have LSD (ergot) in them.

          They did outlaw the hemp plant tho. Not a drug.  A plant.

  23.  and when the Waronsomedrugs Industry finally is defeated on the marijuana front, will there be war crime trials?   Will war criminals like Leonhart be given fair trials for destroying the lives of millions for no other reason than profit?  Will the prisons be opened and those wrongly held released? Will there be indemnities? 

    1.  In my world, yes — yes there would be trials. Sentence? They would be kicked out of the party (e.g. sent to one of Canada’s arctic islands, or maybe just to Fort MacMurray).

  24. This, by the way, was contempt of congress: Refusal to answer a question to which the answer is known for purely political reasons.

    1. IANAL, but I don’t think this rises to that level.  She was being deliberately obtuse, but she was basically just restating the policy position and the law.  (A very stupid and destructive law, but the law.)  She wasn’t withholding information or obstructing a Congressional investigation.  She didn’t refuse to testify.  Her response to Polis was essentially “They are all equally bad”.  This may not be true as a matter of chemistry/biology, but it is an accurate description of the policy of her agency and the administration.

      1. More lame attempts to defend.  She wasn’t being asked about the LAW.  She was being asked about the nature of the substances themselves – INDEPENDENT from the law!

        Good grief!

        1. I’m not saying what she did was right, I’m saying it wasn’t contempt of Congress.  There’s a specific definition of what constitutes contempt of Congress, and what we saw in this exchange ain’t it.

  25. “marijuana’s harms, whatever they are, are not in the same league as heroin or crystal meth.”

    And neither are “heroin” or “crystal meth”. Bogeyman all.

    1. I’m not sure I agree. Ever seen those slideshows with pictures of people going downhill after getting into meth? Where all their teeth have fallen out and their faces are covers with sores? I’ve been a witness to the drug scene for a long time and I’ve never seen anything like it.

      That being said, they got this drug in Russia they call Crocodile that makes your limbs fall off, and they still take it. If you haven’t seen it, check it out on youtube (but not on a full stomach).

      1. It doesn’t specifically make your “limbs fall off”.. just that its simple synthesis from codeine, iodine and red phosphorus, combined with it being 8-10 stronger than a equivalent dose of morphine makes it an appealing low-cost street drug. Problem is that the simple synthesis leaves behind a *very* contaminated product.

  26. Opiates, cocaine, booze and meth are big problems for kids and adults; but medical marijuana isn’t a problem and could help wean people off these much worse drugs. I found a great medical marijuana book that has great recipes, uses less valuable marijuana, and has smaller candies to use for pain on a daily basis: MARIJUANA – Guide to Buying, Growing, Harvesting, and Making Medical Marijuana Oil and Delicious Candies to Treat Pain and Ailments by Mary Bendis, Second Edition. How about just $2.99 for great e-book on medical marijuana? This book has great recipes for easy marijuana oil, delicious Cannabis Chocolates, and tasty Dragon Teeth Mints.  

    1. Marijuana – period, isn’t a problem for responsible adults.  Medical marijuana is important, but compared to the persecution of millions of American marijuana consumers, it’s a small side-issue.

  27. Bush pretended to be gung-ho on his war on drugs but appointed this moron to head the Drug Enforcement Administrator. No wonder the war on drugs was a joke then and still is.

  28. You’re missing an important point here.  Her job title is “administrator,” not “legislator.”  She is charged with enforcing the law.  If she questions that law, on camera and under oath, she is pretty much fired.

    And the congressman knows he’s putting her in a no-win position.  He’s shooting fish in a barrel, instead of doing something (God knows what at this point) that might create change.

    So he gets to win the stoner vote, without taking any real risk.  Everybody wins!  Except 100,000 federal prisoners, and they can’t vote anyway.

    1. Boundegar is dead on. I’m reiterating what he or she said since this was what I was going to write but, Boundegar beat me to it; Being who she is, she could only speak in the capacity of the law and the law says that marijuana and heroin are both schedule I drugs so they are both equal according to federal law, and federal law enforcement. She would be questioning the law she is meant to enforce, and shooting herself in the foot if she officially disagrees with the law. She even points out that if she were to say one is worse than the other it would be subjective i.e. a personal view and not within the law that she is meant to enforce. 

      This was indeed political posturing that does nothing to change the real problem which is the law itself. I wish a large majority representatives of the pro marijuana side would do something more productive than massaging their own inflated egos. Since the horrible casualties we are seeing in Mexico are the result of the War on Drugs there are much more serious issues to be taken up.

      1. More expounding on a nonsensical defense.

        Thanks for mentioning the black-market violence in Mexico.  That’s a DIRECT result of the fraudulent marijuana prohibition.

        Have you seen Budweiser and Coors vendors shooting it out in the streets?

        Did you ever wonder why not?

        (Hint:  They DID back in the 1920s and ’30s.)

        1. My mentioning of Mexico was indeed intended to directly connect to marijuana prohibition, and I would draw an exact parallel to 20’s prohibition’s violence. I didn’t feel the need to spell it out but, subtlety is not a strong point of the righteous.

          My point was, that if the law is not attacked directly in this line of questioning then it isn’t going to do a damn thing but fuel self-righteous fervor (much like your own) rather than do anything productive as the bodies pile up in Mexico. I’m certainly not defending the DEA nor the law, I’m simply stating that this angle of attack is not effective. Questions regarding enforcement are more in order. Perhaps a line of inquiry regarding each and every action taken by the DEA, the FBI, and the CIA in the name of the War on Drugs (including marijuana) that have directly contributed to an escalation in the violence going on in Mexico might be a better angle when questioning someone whose involvement is that of enforcement.

          An even better point would be, when the DEA is enforcing federal law in States where medical marijuana is legal, why allow legislation by those states at all? This is a point where federal law is contradicting itself, in other words, aren’t the DEA raids on legal distribution of medical marijuana illegal? Now those are questions to direct to someone in charge of enforcement.

    2. By defending this woman, you’re giving a neat example of the principle of ‘getting the government that we deserve’.

      1. I don’t think Boundegar’s intent was to defend her but, to point out that there could have been a more effective line of questioning that would have been more productive. It’s not a question of ‘getting the government you deserve’ but, using their own rules against them to expose those rules as utterly useless in the first place.

        1. Effective how?  Seems to me that she was not going to deviate from the policy line, regardless of what questions were asked.

          1. Ask more policy questions. There are many angles to take though. Some I’ve mentioned earlier above. Here’s some more: Ask her why prescription drugs, which are schedule II substances are more of an enforcement priority at the moment than schedule I since policy dictates that schedule I’s are the more dangerous? Who’s decision was it to make prescription drugs a priority? Wouldn’t that indicate that they are being considered as serious as schedule I’s? Since enforcement creates it’s own priorities regardless of the schedule system does that make the schedule system irrelevant to the DEA and are they just making up policy as they go?

            Polis had many options but, his line of questioning was just as repetitive as her answers. The one thing it did indicate, over and over, is that the law does not have any real, detailed, criteria for what constitutes a dangerous drug. It seems to me that the schedule system is based on what drug makes money for the right people, and which drugs don’t yet.

    3. Nonsense.  She does nothing against the law or against her job duties to admit what she knows to be true about the relative harms of different “illegal” drugs.

      There simply is no excuse for blatant denial of basic truths most Americans know – especially since she is a supposed “expert.”

      The very existence of the DEA is an abomination to humanity.  The “war on drugs” is clearly the ‘war on marijuana consumers.”

      The signs are everywhere this huge, fraudulent persecution of millions of good Americans is now crumbling.  This is just one of those signs.

      1.  To say that it’s merely a ‘war on marijuana consumers’ is narrow minded, if not, most likely self-centered. Marijuana consumers are simply one of the many casualties of this so called war but, the real reason for the ‘War on Drugs’ is simply that portion of the 1% wanting to take control of profits that they feel is rightfully theirs. Fraudulent persecution is one method by which to further gain this control. None of these evil orchestrators of the War give a crap about whether you smoke marijuana or shoot heroin or whether you live or die, as long as it doesn’t interfere with their enterprise.

  29. Okay, I’ve been learning about the neurochemistry of this lately and the active ingredients in weed are THC and the canabinoids. THC is a dopamine agonist *just like adderal.* There are only so many ways something can affect our brain, any dopamine agonist (thing that causes the release of dopamine, vs. an antagonist which does the opposite) is basically he same, the only difference is the dosage. As someone with ADD I certainly appreciate the dopamagenic affect of weed and it’s even better than adderal because it wears off much more quickly and the cannabinoids, which impair the formation of short term memory (opposite of nicotine) helps temper the manic aspects of normal dopamine boosting drugs. It is so retarded that this stuff is so poorly understood that we are criminalizing it and creating an atmosphere that cultivates paranoia in youth and adults who might greatly benefit from the chemistry of this substances when they are in a state where it is more difficult to form short term memories and it’s easy to develop neurotic paranoias (because of the canabinoids). Anyway…

      1. I just heard that THC causes psychosis and I don’t know what besides dopamine agonists would cause those kinda symptoms. Also, just because something doesn’t chemically mimic the protein structure of dopamine and act as a synthetic dopamine doesn’t mean it can’t cause the release of dopamine in the brain. There are basically three important neurotransmitters: GABA, seratonin and dopamine. Dopamine is connected to the reward system so even talking to someone can “indirectly” cause the release of dopamine. People with ADD don’t get enough dopamine to their frontal lobe which is connected to executive function and that can lead to difficulty in forming and maintaining motivation. Personally I feel that indirect dopamine agonists are way better than something like adderal, which is basically just speed and incredibly close to meth in chemical structure, because it’s, like you were saying, not even in the same ballpark as far as addiction goes.

        1. No.  It’s a whole different system, with no dopamine involved.  Just cannabinoids.   Here is one of the latest studies:

          23 February 2012

          “New York, NY: The consumption of cannabis is not associated with residual alterations in the release of dopamine in chronic users, according to trial data to be published in journal Biological Psychiatry.

          Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for reward-driven learning and behavior. Alterations in the brain’s production of dopamine is associated with the habitual use of various dependence-inducing intoxicants, including alcohol, heroin, and cocaine.

          Investigators at the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University assessed dopamine levels in 16 recently abstinent, psychiatrically health cannabis users and 16 matched controls. Researchers found that cannabis consumers did not show any significant differences compared to controls in any of the brain regions assessed.

          Authors concluded, “Unlike other addictions, cannabis dependence of mild to moderate severity is not associated with striatal DA (dopamine) alterations.

          “They cautioned, however, that early onset use of cannabis or long-term use of the plant may be associated with a decrease in the release of dopamine in the striatum.”

          1. Okay, first up, I am not trying in anyway to prove that cannabis is physically addictive in the way that heroin, alcohol, tobacco, or methamphetamines are. And here are some points from what your quoting that completely make sense to me:

            “The consumption of cannabis is not associated with residual alterations in the release of dopamine…”
            “Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is responsible for reward-driven learning and behavior.”

            The only point that you’re not understanding which is incredibly important is that dopamine is connected to *everything.* Dopamine is the currency of our reward system, the brain is plastic, anything can alter the architecture of our dopamine release and our dopamine response. I don’t mean anything chemically technical when I say “dopamine agonist,” my simple meaning is anything that supports a net increase in the amount of dopamine in your brain. By my definition, World of Warcraft is an incredibly powerful dopamine agonist. And I don’t know if you’ve heard of B.F. Skinner’s research into reward cycles in rats, but most video game designers at this point explicitly understand that they are fucking with people’s neurochemistry to make their games physically addictive (even though, of course, they would not put it in those terms). Here’s a great article which brought Skinner’s ideas to the greater consciousness of game designers back in 2001:


            Most things that change the dopamine levels in the brain create withdrawal symptoms, because they’re not using the plasticity of the brain to change net dopamine levels, they’re just very directly agonizing the dopamine levels in the brain or they’re acting as a synthetic dopamine themselves. Both of these have similar problems. If it’s directly agonizing the dopamine levels of the brain, then the brain develops an expectancy for higher dopamine levels and when the dopamine agonist wears off, the brain goes through withdrawal symptoms. If you have protein or chemical that can act as a dopamine substitute, then it binds to the dopamine receptors and the brain starts to feel like it can “only feel good” when it has that dopamine substitute because the brain starts to generate less dopamine itself. From my experience, that is what addiction to adderal is like.

            The great thing about weed, is that there are two things going on. I say that THC is connected to dopamine, somehow, because there are basically three things that can happen when something is agonizing your dopamine: you go psychotic, you experience mania, or you feel great. Because I heard that THC can cause psychosis (which is actually something modern day weed varieties have been bred to maximize, instead of minimize) I would be very surprised if it is not affecting the net amount of dopamine in the brain, consistently, whatever the mechanism might be. 

            But, as I was saying earlier about the neurotransmitters that matter: dopamine, GABA and seratonin. I would certainly add glutamate and canabinoids to that list as classes of their own. I don’t know a lot about GABA or seratonin, but what’s interesting is the interaction between an indirect dopamine agonist (like World of Warcraft) and a canabinoid. I don’t know if you’ve read “The Botany of Desire” but a fourth of the book is dedicated to the history and subjective affects of weed. One really interesting thing that is mentioned is how canabinoids bind to a receptor in our nervous system that seems to encourage the ability to discard short term memories. Basically (this is my interpretation) we have a lot more choice in what we’re choosing to act on in a moment to moment basis (like, we might choose to continue appreciating a beautiful piece of art, for instance). 

            I don’t really have time to go into it, but I think the combination of something that encourages this quality of discernment along with a net dopamine agonist actually rewires the plasticity of our brain in such a way that it creates new reward cycles which will safely encourage naturally increased dopamine levels in the brain even after the psychoactive substance has worn off. To understand what I mean, read the article from Gamasutra, and then think about this: smoking weed allows the discerning brain to slow down and discern enough to select reward cycles in their environment that are actually healthy, realistic, and rewarding.

            Bwarglgllglglllglgl soooo much typing…. ≈:¬{

        2.  Endocannabinoids have a protectant effect on the dopamine system as well as other nervous system protectants. I don’t think enough study has been done to determine the actual relationship to the release of dopamine. Generally the endocannabinoids have been shown to have a stabilizing or modulating effect.

        3. They’ve been trying to sell reefer madness since at least 1936. Don’t believe everything you hear, the claim is utter hogwash and so easy to disprove that it’s laughably absurd that they even try, much less that there are people that fall for it.

          If cannabis caused psychoses, there would be wackos gibbering on every street corner in America.

          1. I know from personal experience that weed can cause intense psychosis, paranoia, and even the development of long lasting schizophrenic symptoms. But the problem isn’t weed, the problem is that it puts you into a very suggestive state and we have such a fascist legal structure about it that if a young person smoking for the first time starts thinking about it weed can actually support them going down a paranoid train of thought much more than is healthy and they can flip the fuck out.

            The answer to that kind of psychosis and any other mental health problems that weed might cause is legalization.

          2. @Sputnik77:disqus 

            Now we know you’re full of baloney.  You say you KNOW marijuana causes psychosis and schizophrenia. 

            Total B.S.

            These charges were fabricated and trumpeted after the simple observation that schizophrenia patients were using marijuana.  But further research showed marijuana is an effective treatment for MOST schizophrenic patients. 

            NORML’S Paul Armentano explains this desperate attempt to revive Reefer Madness:

            >>>”The mainstream media loves to spill ink hyping the allegation that marijuana causes mental illness, particularly schizophrenia. In fact, it was in March when international media outlets declared that cannabis use ‘doubled’ one’s risk of developing the disease. Yet when research appears in scientific journals rebuking just this sort of ‘reefer madness,’ it generally goes unreported.

            Such is the case with a pair of just-published studies slated to appear in the journal Schizophrenia Research. The first study, conducted by a team of researchers at various New York state hospitals, the Yale University School of Medicine, and the National Institutes of Mental Health assessed whether there exists a causal association between cannabis use and the age of onset of psychosis in patients hospitalized for the first time for an episode of schizophrenia.

            Despite previous media claims to the contrary, researchers concluded:
            “Although the onset of cannabis use disorder preceded the onset of illness in most patients, our findings suggest that age at onset of psychosis was not associated with cannabis use disorders. Previous studies implicating cannabis use disorders in schizophrenia may need to more comprehensively assess the relationship between cannabis use disorders and schizophrenia, and take into account the additional variables that we found associated with cannabis use disorders.”

            A separate study slated for publication in the same journal assessed the cognitive skills of schizophrenic patients with a history of cannabis use compared to non-users. Authors reported that patients with a history of marijuana use “demonstrated significantly better performance on measures of processing speed, verbal fluency, and verbal learning and memory” compared to abstainers.

            Marijuana use was also associated with better overall GAF (Global Assessment of Functioning) scores compared to those of non-users.
            Authors concluded:

            “The results of the present analysis suggest that (cannabis use) in patients with SZ (schizophrenia) is associated with better performance on measures of processing speed and verbal skills. These data are consistent with prior reports indicating that SZ patients with a history of CUD (cannabis use disorders) have less severe cognitive deficits than SZ patients without comorbid CUD. … The present findings also suggest that CUD in patients with SZ may not differentially affect the severity of illness as measured by clinical symptomatology.”

            Both study’s findings are in line with previous (though virtually unreported) research indicating that marijuana is unlikely to instigate incidences of schizophrenia in the general population, that cannabis use among patients with the disease is associated with higher cognitive function, and that at least some schizophrenics find subjective relief from symptoms of the illness by using pot.

            Nonetheless, odds are the nobody from the mainstream media will be champing at the bit to report on them.

          3. Sputnik77, like I said above, the notion that cannabis causes psychosis is so easily disproved that it’s laughable that people continue to insist that it does. Quite simply, the rate of psychoses in the US did not show any statistically significant change during the 1960s while the rate of people choosing to enjoy cannabis skyrocketed in excess of 1000% (one thousand per cent).

            C’mon, be for real. If the Rastafari have a rate of psychoses in line with the rest of the population someone has to be a moron to continue to insist that cannabis causes psychosis.

            Insisting on a thing does not make it so. However, insisting on something so easily disproved does make one a laughing stock.

        4. Please stop lecturing people about neurochemistry until you’ve studied a little more. Also, how can you forget about glutamate?! It’s the most important.

          [edit] Since I can’t reply to your reply I’ll just add it here. Glutamate uptake into the central nervous system is controlled by an active protein transporter across the blood brain barrier. Glutamate competes with other amino acids for transport and the rate is regulated. Eating monosodium glutamate will not change the amount of glutamate in your brain.

          As for you suggestion that average people can have a conversation about it without going to college, I agree. I do not have a degree and I am not associated with an institution of any sort.

          1. You sound like you need a hug.

            Um, I love glutamate! Did you know you can buy MSG as a table spice from most grocery stores? You should experiment with putting it on food when you’re high. I think it might do something very interesting in cooperation with the active ingredients of weed. 

            I’m not trying to hurt people with my insufficient understanding of brain chemistry, but I feel like it is something that average people can be having a conversation about without it being locked up in an ivory tower by people who have spent a billion years going to college. And for something like this, a national issue, to actually be resolved in a democratic way where people who “know what’s best for everyone” like corporations and “researchers” aren’t just deciding what is the most *coughprofitablecough* “healthy” system of regulation, I think that it’s very important that normal people feel supported to use what small knowledge they have and learn from the small pieces that other people have. It’s like a puzzle, and everyone has some valuable piece.

            Thanks for bringing up glutamate! :)

        5. For the 5 billionth time: Marijuana use DOES NOT CAUSE psychosis.

          The latest meta-studies have concluded that it can speed up onset of psychosis in people who would’ve had a psychotic episode in their lifetime anyway. Again for clarity: It does not CAUSE psychosis – it only speeds up its onset in people who are going to get it anyway. This is why regulation is vital, as the only people who should not be smoking it are those with developing brains (teens). At present it is MUCH easier for a minor to score weed than it is to secure alcohol.

          So, US Govt, by all means; continue business as usual. It’s not like your policies have been based on scientific rigor for a while, anyway.

          edit: Just saw this: I know from personal experience that weed can cause…

          Sorry but your anecdote is worth nothing. I see your negative personal-experience anecdote and raise you my slew of positive personal-experience anecdotes.
          ^Do you see now why we revert to scientific studies to determine objective truths?

    1. It is good that you have been trying to learn about neurochemistry. Unfortunately you have not learned correctly. A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.

      THC is not a dopamine agonist. Do you know what agonist means? It means that the substance described binds to the receptor in question and activates its function (maybe an ion channel, maybe a secondary messenger linked to a g-protein as in this case). It may come as a shock to you, but THC and other cannabinoid bind to the canabinoid receptors. Specifically, the CB1 receptor in the brain (CB2 is found in other parts of the body). These receptors’ endogenous ligands include a variety of modified fatty acids and are important for normal functioning in almost all animals with backbones.

      Everything you have said is wrong. There is not a dopaminergic effect, though dopaminergic cell populations may be downstream from the glutamergic afferents of the CB1 receptor hosting populations (ie, nucleus accumbens, ventral palladium).

      As an aside, there are things beyond simple agonist and antagonists. For example, the widely prescribed class of drugs called benzodiazepines (ie. valium) are what are called allosteric modulators. They do not activate or block activation of the GABA receptor complexes they bind to. Instead they change the conformation in order increase the chance of chloride ion channel opening when a real agonist binds to the active site.

    2.  That’s interesting, I wonder if marijuana would help Parkinson’s patients given what you’re saying. Should roll a big fatty for my dad and find out :-)

      1. Hey!

        Actually nicotine is supposed to be super good for people with Parkinson’s. I guess what’s going on is that the dopamine generating parts of their brain are literally dying. I would also consider experimenting with smoking cigarettes while eating food that has MSG (monosodium glutamate, which is basically just a neurotransmitter, glutamate, bound to sodium). I don’t know exactly why, but I think that might do something interesting. You can purchase MSG from the spice section of most grocery stores.

        Good luck! My Uncle has Alzheimer’s and my Grandpa died from Parkinson’s. Was your Dad a photographer? I’ve heard that dark room chemicals have been statistically correlated with Parkinson’s. 


  30. Anyone who is unable to differentiate between heroin/crack/meth and cannabis is in desperate need of a check up from the neck up.

  31. Have a heart. How can a top appointed official know what to say unless someone wrote, told and or informed them on the proper way to word their response. On their own, its all vague blurry yada yada yada.

    1. oxycontin is legal so is aspertame whiskey makes people violent beer makes people fat , cannabis makes people … hungry?

  32. At one point, she was asked what she thought about people who use grass to help them eat and to fight off their misery, and she replies along the lines of ‘I think that would be between them and their doctor’.


    Horrifying if you actually think about it.. but I don’t see why I should put any more effort into thinking about it than she did.. 

    My goodness..  Im not certain what is going on in her mind with such drivel. The whole rotting foundation of corruption and lies from her organization is beginning to crumble and she’s in a ‘measuring for new drapes’ mindset.. out of touch.. this President has a serious issue here with her leadership under his administration. 

     I know I sure have zero faith.

  33. If you answered your finals, the way she answered the reps questions, you’d be repeating the course. She put on an evasive, untruthful display, and should be docked at least one days pay for non performance! Ironically, 99.9% of the people who witnessed her performance know she was not being forthright. IOW’s We pay our Bureaucrats to lie.

    1. If you answered your finals, the way she answered the reps questions, you’d be repeating the course.

      Actually, the professor would probably refuse to have you in class again.

  34. When Rep Cohen had his turn at her,,Leonhart said “medical marijuana should be between the patient and their doctor”,,it is right out of the DEA Administrators mouth,,when does congress move forward on removing marijuana from schedule 1? 

  35. We also cannot underestimate the will of the Banking industry on this. Retail banks make billions of dollars in profits laundering illegal drug money from Mexico and Colombia, of which a substantial portion would go away if MJ were legalized.

    And the banking industry is not only one of Obama’s top supporters – they basically run Congress.

  36. “All illegal drugs are addictive”?! Hasn’t she heard the news about LSD, psychedelic mushrooms, and marijuana? ZERO addictive potential, although some may become habituated to them.

    If addiction is her measure of if something should be illegal, then caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol should be outlawed.

  37. Meh, I can see the Leonhart sticking to such ignorance, because as a Law Enforcement official, that’s how they have to look at the situation. This is bad or this is good, doesn’t matter, is it LEGAL is the only thing they need to see, and from there make the decision. Now is it dumb and ignorant? Yes, and even a bit spineless, but I can understand why. 

  38. Okay. There are a few things I would like to say to everyone in this discussion.

    #1 Stop talking about schizophrenia and psychosis unless you or someone close to you has experienced symptoms. You are too ignorant to say anything about a subject which has nothing to do with you.

    #2 “Reefer Madness?” What is this, the fifties?

    #3 Any sane legalization policy for weed will involve honesty and integrity about the effects it has if we, as a culture, are going to create a safe environment for our young people, at the very least, psychologically.

    #4 I think it was insane that it was made illegal in the first place and it’s just another way corporations and the federal government, in concert, are trying to eff with our lives.

    1.  From Wikipedia: “Cannabis with relatively high ratios of CBD:THC is less likely to induce anxiety than vice versa.

      Cannabis use appears to be neither a sufficient nor a necessary cause for psychosis.

      Part of a complex constellation of factors leading to psychosis.”

      Marijuana is not a cause for psychosis. Lets move on. You are starting to sound like a troll.

    2. #1 Knowing someone with schizophrenia or psychosis does not make you an instant expert. Science has debunked what you are claiming. Are you suggesting we ignore what real research is telling us in favour of your anecdotal perspective because somehow you feel you have better insight? Scientists spend decades studying the very thing you’re being self righteous about.. and your only claim to authority on the subject is anecdotal.

      #2 Yes.. the incorrect claims your are perpetuating are reminiscent of Reefer Madness.

      #3 No shit. That’s what we’re aiming for. BS claims about links to psychosis are not constructive to the debate.

      #4 At least we agree about something… Though I’d say the original reasons for the change in legal status were primarily racial in nature.

    3.  Sputnik77, it is obvious that the truth is not a welcome visitor in your home. I’m willing to wager dollars to dirt that were the truth to knock on your front door that you would call the police and demand that it be arrested for trespassing. Stop talking about honesty and integrity unless you or someone close to you has actually accepted the truth when you are wrong, wrong, wrong. You are too dishonest to address something so foreign to your reality.

      Why is it that you so hate the truth?

  39. This actually brings to mind something I’ve always wondered about whenever I see cops getting all emotionally invested in busting someone for committing a “crime”:  Do cops _really_ have the ability to suspend their own feelings and enforce laws totally objectively?  I’m not really talking about selective enforcement because I know that happens all the time.  It’s more on the order of: Today, ‘x’ is illegal, and Officer Do-Right self-righteously busts those who do it.  Tomorrow, ‘x’ is declared to be _legal_, and ‘y’ which has previously been legal is now ruled to be _illegal_.  Does Officer D actually change his world-view with the laws, equally enthusiastically arresting those who commit ‘y’ while smiling and walking past people doing ‘x’?  Do cops really get that worked up about enforcing the _law_, whatever it may be, or is it generally just that cops tend to agree with the people who _make_ the laws, and thus are simply enforcing their own personal world-view?

  40. Hey Rep Polis: You can has pic of you with BB screenshot because of your awesome.

    The key is to Screenshot or shoot your monitor separately to the picture of you and then shoop them into one sexy image of goodness. I adjusted your brightness because the screen made you all dark.

  41. Meh. Its just politics and ideological idiocy. You would get the same disassemble if you asked PM Harper about tar sands and climate change, or a host of other things. They are not about to say anything contrary to their political belief no matter how obvious it is to everyone else. They just repeat the same sad old rhetoric that is accepted, this is hardly new for politics. It is even less surprising coming from someone who’s job is pretty dependent on all the money coming in to fight drugs etc… So while it is stupid, that’s politics. Happens all the time in news interviews, which I would like to see hosts being more harsher than the acceptance. If you don’t want to answer, then leave, as you aren’t being helpful to anyone.  Propaganda, just repeat, repeat, repeat…

    1. And it continues because people like you keep defending the behavior. Change can’t happen while the world is populated by apologists for evil.

  42. By virtue of the position she holds, she is obligated to give the answer she gave.  Any other answer other than that would’ve resulted in a debate over what is worse than what, and what is better than what.  Her job is to enforce the law, not engage in a debate over what is worse or not, or what is more addictive or not.  Everyone who has half a brain knows that weed is far better for you than booze.  Why do politicians have such a hard time stating the obvious?  Simple, fear.  Plus, if she actually had answered the question, she’d probably be out of a job.

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