U.S. lawmakers, authorities clash over marijuana rules


U.S. lawmakers supportive of steadily relaxing state marijuana laws sparred Tuesday with Obama administration officials who continue to label pot in the same high-danger category as killer drugs like cocaine and heroin.

The Drug Enforcement Administration's chief deputy said marijuana deserved to remain listed as a "Schedule 1" narcotic like LSD even though he could not identify a single fatal overdose attributable to cannabis last year.

"Marijuana is the most widely available and commonly abused illicit drug in the United States," the DEA's Thomas Harrigan told a House panel in a joint statement with John Walsh, the U.S. attorney in Colorado, a state that legalized recreational marijuana use in January.

Abuse among young Americans is on the rise, and marijuana's more potent production methods are an increasing concern to law enforcement and health officials, they said.

The comments drew blistering responses from lawmakers confounded at the Washington's multi-billion-dollar anti-drug strategy that leads to thousands of incarcerations for acts that already have been decriminalized in some 20 states.

"We've locked people up. We're spending billions of dollars, and it's not working," House Democrat Earl Blumenauer said.

Some 750,000 Americans were arrested on marijuana charges in 2011, outpacing arrests for violent crime, Blumenauer said citing FBI figures.

He and fellow member Steve Cohen noted how 16,000 people died last year from prescription drug overdoses, and how thousands more died from cocaine, heroin, methamphetamines and the legal intoxicant alcohol.

When asked how many people died from marijuana, Harrigan told the House government oversight panel: "I'm not aware of any."

The hearing was held just as Washington's city council ruled to decriminalize marijuana, making possession of small amounts of the drug as serious as getting a parking ticket in the nation's capital.

Several lawmakers have argued that bringing marijuana sales within the US legal framework would allow authorities to tax and closely monitor the drug.

But Harrigan insisted that "there are no sound scientific, economic or social reasons to change our nation's marijuana policy."

Cohen said the law was so universally decried as wrong that "it breeds disrespect for the law and for the entire judiciary system."

Subcommittee chairman John Mica noted that distinct conflicts between the federal law and state initiatives like those in Colorado needed to be resolved.

"We are trying to sort this out," Mica said.

Republican Thomas Massie took aim at the government's restrictions on cultivation of hemp, a cannabis plant with negligible quantities of psychoactive THC.

Harrigan said that policy was under review.

Democrat Gerry Connolly warned that U.S. marijuana policy had racial overtones, citing figures showing blacks were four times more likely than whites to be arrested on marijuana charges.

"This level of disparity is indefensible," he said.

© (c) 2014 AFP

©2021 GPlusMedia Inc.

Login to comment

If Man thinks he can make a natural plant "illegal", then he is illogical. America is a mess with it's laws on weed, some places it's ok to have others it's not....and then there's the War on Drugs !

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Sell heroin at the kombini, Y100 for high, Y300 for super high, Y500 for lethal. Stupid dopers will all buy lethal as they will be sure they can "handle" it. Here in the states we are doubling the number of "poor" people on Medicaid, they will be right down to the pain clinic to get their Oxycotin pills to sell to each other. Pill overdose deaths should about double. Couldn't happen to nicer folks. (American poor people only have 55 inch LCD tvs)

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

I've been expecting this. A whole ton of laws will need to be put in place for folks to smoke pot legally without violating the rights of those who don't want to inhale the stuff or preventing criminal organizations from funding their other activities legally by starting a "legit" business venture. The door has been opened, lets see where the game ends. I've already had a few run-ins with inconsiderate tokers already.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

“there are no sound scientific, economic or social reasons to change our nation’s marijuana policy.”

. . . if you know nothing about science, economics, or sociology.

1) the medical and social dangers of marijuana are minimal 2) the cost of locking up users and distributors is massive, as well as a drain on police resources 3) the war on pot breaks up families and leads to higher crime rates

Back to school you go, Mr. Harrigan.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

“Marijuana is the most widely available and commonly abused illicit drug in the United States,” the DEA’s Thomas Harrigan"

It's also among the most commonly used (for good and proper purposes). The "illicit" bit is only because you'd have less of a job if it weren't.

Let people grow their own. It's a great hobby. Sure your teenagers will want to get growing too, but in the meantime they learn horticulture, patience, nuturing. All good lessons - and their eventual product won't be as potent as what some professionals in the black market are making available.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The U.S. must keep this poison a Schedule 1 narcotic. It is a gateway drug. Those who break the law by ingesting this garbage should be removed from society live with other criminals for the rest of their natural lives.


-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Oh boy we've heard this round before. "the possibilities of pot usage are limitless..." From those who advocate it's usage by everyone. They don't want to accept that some people have allergies to the damned weed, and think it's healthy for EVERYONE. Newsflash. some people are allergic to peanuts (a plant), some people are allergic to eggs (animal byproduct) some people are allergic to aspirin (so they use acetaminophen) and vice versa... But nobody is allergic to pot?

And what about people with chronic breathing problems like asthma, or bronchitis? Surely they'll be healthy as a clam inhaling second hand toke by inconsiderate tokers according the "advocates" I've been seeing as of late. Reminds me of the days when smoking regular old tobbaccy was considered healthy and the doctors could smoke while seeing their patients and saying, "I don't like the sound of that cough..."

There is a reason why one of the first laws during the process of legalizing the recreational usage of pot in my state specifically states, "DO NOT USE IN PUBLIC". The city of Boulder got extremely p/oed at what happened at the "Boulder smoke out" (google the pictures of I to get my gist at just how stupid people have gotten and just how much air pollution was forced into the wind by an extremely large group of toking idiots in a public area). How can someone expect their rights to toke legally when they themselves don't respect the rights of others who choose not to be exposed to this for w/e personal reasons they have? One person's rights are to never ever infringe on the rights of others. And yet people still smoke/toke in front of their children (taking away the childs rights), smoke/toke in public areas (taking away the rights of non-smokers/tokers from the very basic right to breathe which is a life necessity, or not have allergic reactions, or aggravate any breathing conditions someone may already have...).

Scientific facts are ignored only by idiots, and the only pharmacological usage of THC is a hardly ever prescribed tablet used for inducement of hunger because there are too many other drugs that do the same job a hundred times better and more specific for the problem. Hemp? Hemp can be made from any plant, and is only made from male plants of the marijuana when produced from that particular plant. If someone wants to eat the plant I don't care. It will only affect them because even if they consume it on a regular basis, all drugs have side affects. Some are positive and some are negative, but many MJ users are going to learn this the hard way about the negative side effects especially after long term consumption or usage.

The feds in the US have it listed as a schedule one for the simple reason that it is considered a useless narcotic because there are many other schedule 2 through schedule 5 narcotics (and even non-scheduled meds) that do a thousand times better job than the alleged "beneifits" of mj users that like to smoke it.

If tokers (and smokers) followed the damned rules in the first place I would care less. But true to word, they don't care about the laws and don't care about the rights of others. I am making sure to respond in kind, "You only get as much respect and consideration as you give"

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Login to leave a comment

Facebook users

Use your Facebook account to login or register with JapanToday. By doing so, you will also receive an email inviting you to receive our news alerts.

Facebook Connect

Login with your JapanToday account

User registration

Articles, Offers & Useful Resources

A mix of what's trending on our other sites