The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has a new leader, and he just admitted that heroin is more dangerous than cannabis.
In the wake of Michele Leonhart’s resignation following a sex party scandal, Chuck Rosenberg is the acting administrator for the governmental organization. Rosenberg, a former prosecutor with a largely unknown stance on drug reform, is expected to be less critical in his policies.
Rosenberg’s potentially game-changing statements were first made on July 28, 2015 during a conference call. During the call Rosenberg stated:
“If you want me to say that marijuana’s not dangerous, I’m not going to say that because I think it is. Do I think it’s as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I’m not an expert.”
While these cautious statements do not indicate support for the legalization of cannabis, they do instigate some hope of reform in DEA policy and practice.
Now, there is even more hope to be had after a press briefing at the administration’s headquarters on Wednesday August 5 when Rosenberg clarified his previous statements. Confirmed to The Huffington Post by DEA spokesperson Joseph Moses, Rosenberg clarified:
“Heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana.”
Leonhart, in comparison, stated she thought cannabis was “insidious,” and she indicated that equating the plant with harmful drugs like heroin and crack cocaine was a “subjective” endeavor. In the aftermath of Rosenberg’s predecessor, his statements could be considered a good step forward. Currently, four states allow recreational cannabis use and 23 allow medical usage. However, federally the plant is still illegal to cultivate and consume in any situation. The new DEA administrator’s stance inspires the hope that this legal gray area may be resolved in the future.
For now, Rosenberg will ask DEA agents to focus on high priority cases such as those involving heroin, meth, opioids and cocaine. The administrator admitted that cannabis tends to take a lower priority when pitted against these substances. Consequently, it should be noted that he has not told agents to shy away from anti-cannabis actions in states that have legalized or decriminalized the plant. Regardless, Rosenberg will focus on a prescription drug program that will try to reduce the existence of unused prescription opioids in households.
This post was originally published on August 6, 2015, it was updated on October 5, 2017.