The chief of operations at the Drug Enforcement Administration railed against the legalization of marijuana on Wednesday, warning the "experiment" was highly dangerous.
"I have to say this... going down the path to legalization in this country is reckless and irresponsible," James L. Capra said during a Senate hearing. "I'm talking about the long-term impact of legalization in the United States. It scares us."
Resident in Colorado and Washington state voted in 2012 to legalize the recreational use of marijuana. The U.S. Department of Justice later said it would not target individuals and marijuana dispensaries that were in compliance with state laws.
Capra claimed marijuana legalization had failed in every place it had been tried.
"There are more dispensaries in Denver than there are Starbucks," Capra remarked. "The idea somehow... that this is somehow good for us as a nation, that this is good for the next generation coming up is wrong. It’s a bad thing, and this body will get its door knocked on ten years from now and say, 'How did we get where we got?'"
He said at an international drug conference in Moscow, foreign officials wondered why the United States was scaling back its war on drugs.
"Almost everyone looked at us and said: Why are you doing this, you're pointing a finger at us as a source state," Capra said. "I have no answer for them. I don't have an answer for them."
He apologized for his excitement, but insisted marijuana legalization was a "bad, bad experiment" that would cost the United States both socially and criminally.
Capra choked up as he described how people misperceived federal drug agents as being concerned with small drug possession crimes. He claimed the agency was only concerned with drug traffickers.
"I've never arrested an addict."
He concluded by again apologizing for his excitement.
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) then addressed Capra's statements, saying she agreed with him because marijuana is a "gateway drug."
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