In a slight break from his predecessors, DEA Chief Chuck Rosenberg said voters should have an intellectually honest debate about legalizing marijuana.
“I don’t recommend it, but there is other stuff in our society that is dangerous that is perfectly legal,” he said at a press briefing reported by the Washington Post.
Since taking over as DEA Chief this past May, Rosenberg told the Washington Post that he has given a great deal of thought to marijuana legalization.
He said people should not conflate the issue of legalizing recreational marijuana with medical marijuana.
The public debate, according to Rosenberg, mixes the two different issues, which he sees as distinctly different.
“There are pieces of marijuana—extracts or constituents or component parts—that have great promise” for medicinal use, Rosenberg said, according to CBS News. “But if you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana, which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana, it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine.”
Rosenberg’s remarks coincide with the release of the DEA’s 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment Summary, which shows that usage is up among most types of illegal drugs, except for cocaine, and that heroin posed the greatest drug threat in the United States.
The report also stated that each day, over 120 people die as a result of a drug overdose—none from marijuana.
Rosenberg’s stance on pot may not be all that legalization proponents would like to hear. However, his attitude is far more reasonable than his predecessors whose rhetoric verged on hysteria and misinformation.
Earlier this year, for example, a DEA agent warned Utah lawmakers that pot legalization could lead to getting the state’s rabbits stoned.