Deputy Drug Czar Admits Marijuana Is Safer Than Alcohol

During a congressional hearing
today, The Raw Story‘s Eric Dolan
, Rep. Gerry Connolly (D-Va.) got deputy drug czar
Michael Botticelli to admit that marijuana is safer than
alcohol. But it was not easy:

“How many people die from marijuana overdoses every year?”
Connolly asked.

“I don’t know that I know. It is very rare,” Botticelli

“Very rare. Now just contrast that with prescription drugs,
unintentional deaths from prescription drugs, one American dies
every 19 minutes,” Connolly said. “Nothing comparable to
marijuana. Is that correct?”

Botticelli admitted that was true.

“Alcohol—hundreds of thousands of people die every year from
alcohol-related deaths: automobile [accidents], liver disease,
esophageal cancer, blood poisoning,” Connolly continued. “Is
that incorrect?”

But Botticelli refused to answer. Guessing where the line
of questioning was headed, he said the “totality of harm”
associated with marijuana indicated it was a dangerous drug, even
though it was not associated with deaths.

“I guess I’m sticking with the president—the head of your
administration—who is making a different point,” Connolly fired
back. “He is making a point that is empirically true. That isn’t a
normative statement, that marijuana is good or bad, but he was
contrasting it with alcohol and empirically he is correct, is he

Botticelli again tried to dodge the question,
but Connolly interrupted him and told him to answer.

“Is it not a scientific fact that there is nothing comparable
with marijuana?” Connolly asked. “And I’m not saying it is
good or bad, but when we look at deaths and illnesses, alcohol,
other hard drugs are certainly—even prescription drugs—are a threat
to public health in a way that just isolated marijuana is not.
Isn’t that a scientific fact? Or do you dispute that fact?”

“I don’t dispute that fact,” Botticelli said.

The head of the Drug Enforcement Administration, by contrast,
refuses to
admit that marijuana is safer than anything. At a a recent meeting
of county sheriffs, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart reportedly

President Obama for
speaking candidly
about the relative hazards of alcohol and
marijuana. It’s not clear whether Leonhart thinks Obama’s statement
was incorrect or merely inconvenient. But either way, the
generated by Obama’s remarks shows drug warriors
believe he conceded a point crucial to their cause. I hope they are

[Thanks to Marc Sandhaus for the tip.]

from Hit & Run

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