|Michele Leonhart telling Congress that pot is as bad as heroin or meth in 2012.
DEA administrator Michele Leonhart has made it clear she doesn’t like marijuana. This is a person who sat with a straight face and told the U.S. Congress that she didn’t think meth or heroin was any worse than marijuana.
So it should come as no surprise that she (and her ilk at the DEA) would freak out over the fact that some people have chosen to break the law and travel out of Colorado with marijuana – like they’ve been doing since well before Amendment 64 passed, making the possession of up to an ounce legal in the state.
Leonhart made her thoughts known yesterday at a Senate Judiciary Committee meeting, saying that the Obama administration’s soft(er) stance on cannabis in the recent months is leading this country to hell in a heroin-laden hand basket.
“The trends are what us in law enforcement had expected would happen,” she told the committee, according to the Washington Post. “In 2012, 438,000 Americans were addicted to heroin. And 10 times that number were dependent on marijuana.”
We’re not sure what heroin addiction has to do with unsourced (and wildly high) figures on mariuana ‘dependency’, either. But When it comes from the mouth of the DEA, lawmakers tend to listen regardless. She also said that emergency room visits related to cannabis increased by 28 percent in 2007 to 2011 (Colorado and Washington recreational marijuana laws didn’t even pass until 2012).
She said that Kansas has seen a 61 percent increase in pot seizures from Colorado. She’s clearly ignoring the fact that Kansas has also stepped up their enforcement to near Gestapo-like levels and pull over damn near everyone with a Colorado license plate and arrest them for amounts as small as a gram as possession of any amount is a misdemeanor crime in Kansas with up to a year in jail and $2,500 in fines.
Kansas could have been doing this for the last twenty years and likely increased their busts 61 percent – legalization of limited amounts of pot or not. In fact, it’s not even about keeping pot out of Kansas, it’s about keeping their coffers filled with money.
Leonhart’s comments are just the latest in slew of public grumblings from the DEA about the decision by the Justice Department over not prosecuting marijuana businesses that operate legally under state laws permitting it. Earlier this year, DEA chief of operations James Capra blathered on that marijuana legalization/decriminalization has failed everywhere around the world that it has been attempted. He’d be right, except that he’s not. It’s been a huge success in Portugal and cannabis hasn’t ever really been illegal in some Asian countries.
Leonhart also took the time to defend mandatory minimum sentences for nonviolent drug crimes, noting that the DEA uses them as a tool to make sure that they are going after the right people. Basically, if a criminal don’t fit the mold pre-determined by the DEA, the DEA won’t know what to do.