Drug Enforcement Agent Won’t Admit That Crack Is Worse Than Marijuana


Written by Annie-Rose Strasser

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO), a staunch advocate for the legalization of medical marijuana, rebuked Michele Leonhart, the head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, yesterday at a Congressional hearing because she would not say if crack is worse than marijuana.

Polis grilled Leonhart, ticking off a list of illicit drugs — including crack, meth, and heroin — and asking whether each was just as bad for a person as smoking marijuana. Leonhart refused to concede that marijuana has significantly fewer potential health risks, or that medicinal use of pot might alleviate the high numbers of patients who struggle with addiction to prescription drugs, which have much higher health risks:

POLIS: Is crack worse for a person than marijuana?

LEONHART: I believe all the illegal drug –

POLIS: Is methamphetamine worse for somebody’s health than marijuana?

LEONHART: I don’t think any illegal drug –

POLIS: Is heroin worse for someones health than marijuana?

LEONHART: Again, all the drugs –

POLIS: I mean, either yes, no, or I don’t know. I mean, if you don’t know, you can look this up you should know this as the chief administrator for the Drug Enforcement Agency. I’m asking you a very straightforward question. Is heroin worse for someone’s health than marijuana?

LEONHART: All the illegal drugs are bad.

POLIS: Does this mean you don’t know?

LEONHART: Heroin causes an addiction that causes many problems that’s very hard to kick.

POLIS: Does that mean that the health impact is worse than marijuana, is that what you’re telling me?

LEONHART: I think that you are asking a subjective question.

Watch it:

Heroin addiction can lead to “bone and muscle pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting.” Use of methamphetamine “[inhibits] the body’s ability to repair itself. Acne appears, sores take longer to heal, and the skin loses its luster and elasticity.” Crack can lead to side effects “as severe as heart attack, stroke, increased heart rate and even, in some cases, death.”

The long term side effects of marijuana use include “irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving,” according to the government’s drug abuse website, “These symptoms begin within about 1 day following abstinence, peak at 2-3 days, and subside within 1 or 2 weeks following drug cessation.”

This post was originally published by ThinkProgress.


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Photo: Kmangal/Wikimedia Commons


Ernest Lichtenwalter

please sign and/or share this petition: http://www.thepetitionsite.com/2/decriminalizemarijuana/

Fred Hoekstra
Fred Hoekstra4 years ago

Thank you ThinkProgress, for Sharing this!

Neal Gay
Neal Gay5 years ago

Crack is bad. Pot is good.

Marion W.
Marion W5 years ago

It seems irresponsible and uninformed to lump marijuana in with crack, methamphetamines, pcp and heroin. Marijuana is a natural herb used in its natural state, the others are processed/manufactured chemicals. If the head of the DEA doesn't understand the difference then she should either educate herself or resign her position. She seems to be of the opinion that if it is illegal it is all the same. She hasn't done the research necessary to understand WHY marijuana is illegal. It's all about money. Manufactured drugs should be illegal, natural herbs should not. I believe in God and I believe if God created it, then it has a purpose. Marijuana contains properties that are good for a variety of medicinal treatments. This cannot be said for the other illegal drugs. Consider, also, the warnings on most of the legal drugs on the market today; the side effects are everything from headaches to liver failure and death. Of course, they are legal because money can be made from them. If you can grow something in your backyard to alleviate pain, no one is going to make a huge profit, and if there's no big money to be made, there would be no motivation to have drug wars over it. Hmm.
Another point is, folks say marijuana is a gateway drug. Well, if it was legal to grow it, the people who want to smoke it wouldn't be exposed to the other hard, man-made drugs that the 'dealer' is also selling. While on the subject of gateway drugs, how about beer? Isn't that a mainstream gate

Shawn O' Malley
Shawn O' Malley5 years ago


Barbara Ferrucci Young
Barbara F5 years ago

Sorry, but I have to call her what she is. MORON!

Winn Adams
Winn A5 years ago

Thanks for the article.

Catt R.
Catt R5 years ago

Courtney G...... when are you going to campaign to get tap water outlawed???? drinking water to excess can cause death by changing the chemical composition of a persons system --- should having sex be against the law for females because it is a cause of cervical cancer?? should refusing sex also be against the law for females because the carcinogen resides in semen and not ejaculating could cause the male to get prostate cancer?? Or is it just that you want things you do not personally enjoy to be illegal so you can feel superior to the rest of humanity???

You have every RIGHT to have opinions, but no right to force your ideals on other people.... even if you claim it is for their benefit.------ may you have a week filled with peace so you have a chance to heal and maybe look again so you can visualize where you end and other's begin.
You can not take away the rights of others because you think they would be better off if you made their choices for them...... no matter how much you claim it is out of love

Catt R.
Catt R5 years ago

Courtney G .... are you aware that marijuana used to prescribed to treat asthma and 'air pollution sickness'? The idea that the smoke stimulates pulmonary toileting was felt to be a good reason to promote it's use for people who needed to do a regime of deep breathing and coughing up the trash that had settled or grown in a persons airway, along with it's antibacterial properties helping to clean out some of the mess........ the plant is also very high in many necessary nutrients, can be used to make cloth, paper, and building supplies -------------------------- follow the money, hemp of all kinds is not illegal here in the USA because it was easier and less expensive that using trees for wood and paper and multiple lab experiments as medication ----- so the timber barons and cotton plantation owners wanted it outlawed--- now big pharmacy corporations help to keep it illegal--- not a health issue, a money issue.

R J5 years ago

Courtney – Oh, really! I didn't know that COPD or emphysema are not only linked to cigarettes. Duh!
But, they sure don't help and can cause these diseases. Thank you so much for enlightening me!
You had made the comment about smoking weed being worse than cigarettes.
There are many more LEGAL dangers in our society than Marijuana. To name a few: processed foods, air pollution, pesticides, soda, most pharmaceutical drugs & misinformed humans. The list goes on and on. And, illegal crack, the subject which spurred on this entire craziness in the first place. Also, I have known folks that have smoked pot for over 15 years and they have never ended up in a mental facility. Maybe, your uncle dabbling in something more dangerous? PCP? Who knows? You just don’t get it. You will never stop. I think all of these posts you are receiving are just empowering you further. So, this will be my last. Marijuana can be used successfully for medical purposes. It's a natural herb. I do not believe it to be a dangerous substance. I do know one thing for sure...you are a real dope.