A senior U.S. drug enforcement official refused to state whether alcohol was more or less dangerous than marijuana during a House oversight committee hearing on Tuesday.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) asked DEA deputy director Thomas Harrigan about recent comments made by his colleague, DEA administrator Michele Leonhart.
At the National Sheriffs’ Association’s annual meeting in January, Leonhart blasted President Barack Obama for saying that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol. She added that the hemp flag flown over the Capitol on July 4 was the lowest point of her career.
Cohen asked Harrigan if he agreed with Leonhart's statement, suggesting that the death of a DEA agent might be a better representation of her lowest moment.
Harrigan replied that he wasn't sure Leonhart's statement was accurately quoted. But he agreed that the hemp flag was "troubling" and he "absolutely" agreed with the administrator.
Cohen then asked whether Harrigan believed that marijuana was more dangerous than alcohol.
"Marijuana is a Schedule I controlled substance that Congress has passed, Congress has agreed to," he responded before being interrupted.
"We're not talking about that," Cohen said. "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?"
"Again, marijuana is a Schedule I controlled drug," Harrigan replied.
At that point, Cohen gave up.
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