Senior officials in federal anti-drug campaigns continue to dodge questions about the severity and potency of various drugs. DEA deputy director Thomas Harrigan was caught on camera literally refusing to say whether marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol. He was asked the question by Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) during a House oversight committee meeting yesterday.
Harrigan initially responded by saying that “marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance that Congress has passed, Congress has agreed to,” before being interrupted by Cohen. “We’re not talking about that,” said Cohen. “Marijuana as it is standing on its own. Is it worse than alcohol, that kills tens of thousands of people and causes much violence and cirrhosis of the liver and DTs?” Harrigan dodged the question for a second time by re-stating that “marijuana is a Schedule I controlled drug.”
Last month, Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer slammed the deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy after they refused to say whether pot was more dangerous than meth. Deputy director Michael Botticelli acknowledged that “there’s relative toxicity related to those drugs,” but declined to say which was more harmful because he felt “the conversation minimizes the harm.”
The response was more than insufficient for Blumenauer. “Being unable to answer something clearly and definitively when there is unquestioned evidence to the contrary, is why young people don’t believe the propaganda, why they think it’s benign,” he said. “If a professional like you can’t answer clearly that meth is more dangerous than marijuana — which every kid on the street knows, which every parent knows — if you can’t answer that, maybe that’s why we’re failing to educate people about the dangers. How do you expect high school kids to take you seriously?”