Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) chief Michele Leonhart's marijuana stance a few days ago has sparked wide outrage online, as her assertion contradicts common knowledge and even information published by the DEA itself.
At a House Judiciary Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Congressman Jared Polis of Colorado's 2nd district asked Leonhart if marijuana was worse for someone's health compared to cocaine, methamphetamine or heroin.
Leonhart's response is that all the illegal drugs are bad.
The video and text of the exchange, via Think Progress, is below:
POLIS: Is crack worse for a person than marijuana?
LEONHART: I believe all the illegal drug -
POLIS: Is methamphetamine worse for somebody's health than marijuana?
LEONHART: I don't think any illegal drug -
POLIS: Is heroin worse for someone's health than marijuana?
LEONHART: Again, all the drugs -
POLIS: I mean, either yes, no, or I don't know. I mean, if you don't know, you can look this up you should know this as the chief administrator for the Drug Enforcement Agency. I'm asking you a very straightforward question. Is heroin worse for someone's health than marijuana?
LEONHART: All the illegal drugs are bad.
POLIS: Does this mean you don't know?
LEONHART: Heroin causes an addiction that causes many problems that's very hard to kick.
POLIS: Does that mean that the health impact is worse than marijuana, is that what you're telling me?
LEONHART: I think that you are asking a subjective question.
On Saturday, Leonhart's stubborn refusal to answer Polis' basic questions remains heavily criticized on Twitter and other social media platforms.
Michele Leonhart is incompetent, uninformed, ignorant, and should not hold the position she currently holds, tweeted @miguelwrestles.
Fire the current DEA administrator Michele Leonhart, tweeted @jeff419.
Leonhart, to be fair, isn't a health expert by profession. A former police officer, she is described on the DEA's website as a career DEA Special Agent.
Still, her implication that marijuana is equally as dangerous as drugs like heroin and cocaine flies in the face of common knowledge in the Western world and numerous scientific studies. It even contradicts information published by the DEA itself.
The agency states that effects of heroin overdose include slow and shallow breathing, blue lips and fingernails, clammy skin, convulsions, coma, and possible death. For cocaine, consequences of overdose include agitation, increased body temperature, hallucinations, convulsions and possible death.
For marijuana, the DEA simply states that no death from overdose of marijuana has been reported.
Ironically, drinking too much alcohol, which is legal in the U.S. for adults to consume, is sometimes fatal, according to the Mayo Clinic.