You read the headline correctly. The United States Drug Enforcement Administration has declared heroin to be more dangerous than marijuana. Specifically, Chuck Rosenberg, acting DEA administrator, has publicly stated that marijuana is “probably not” as dangerous as heroin.
While long-time marijuana users might be on the floor laughing at this point, the fact is that this concession is highly significant given the hard-line stance of Rosenberg’s predecessors. Tuesday he stated: “Let me say it this way: I’d rather be in a car accident going 30 miles an hour than 60 miles an hour, but I’d prefer not to be in a car accident at all.”
He added that the DEA is planning on putting the focus on “the biggest and most important cases,” which he noted concerned cocaine, methamphetamines and opioids. While he also said that he was “not an expert”, recent studies reveal that marijuana is less dangerous than tobacco or alcohol, let alone heroin or cocaine.
While critics of the agency might claim the DEA is still “far behind” regarding the research on marijuana’s effects, others believe Rosenberg’s remarks demonstrate progress at the federal agency. They point out that Rosenberg’s predecessor, Michele Leonhart, was adamant about her opposition to marijuana. In fact, she continued to oppose marijuana even as the country’s acceptance of recreational marijuana use grew.
Readers may recall when President Obama stated his opinions on the legalization of marijuana to the press. He spoke of his approval of state-level legalization of marijuana and said he believed it to be less dangerous than alcohol on an individual basis.
Leonhart, however, was quick to openly contradict his statements during a speech she made to a sheriffs’ association. Despite her constant opposition, a couple months after that more states voted to legalize marijuana for recreational use.
Rosenberg took the reins following Leonhart’s resignation in May following not only criticism of her stand on the legalization of marijuana but a sex scandal as well. Supporters of legalizing marijuana find Rosenberg’s attitude “refreshing” but they are concerned that any progress made could become only temporary. They conclude that the future of marijuana policy will rely heavily on the next president.
DEA: Heroin ’Probably’ More Dangerous Than Marijuana