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!"

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