The new leader of the Drug Enforcement Administration has kept his stance on drug reform somewhat of a mystery, but on Tuesday, Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg said that “heroin probably is more dangerous than marijuana.”
According to the U.S. News & World Report, Rosenberg also said DEA agents are not prioritizing marijuana enforcement—although, he made it clear that he has not ordered them off of it.
“If you want me to say that marijuana’s not dangerous, I’m not going to say that because I think it is,” Rosenberg said. “Do I think it’s as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I’m not an expert.”
“Let me say it this way,” he added, “I’d rather be in a car accident going 30 miles an hour than 60 miles an hour, but I’d prefer not to be in a car accident at all.”
While his comments may seem cautious, they signify a huge shift in perspective from his predecessor, Michele Leonhart.
Leonhart, who retired in May under a could of scandal, had publicly claimed that all illegal drugs were equally bad, lumping marijuana in with crack, meth and heroin.
“That’s a great improvement over the previous administrator who was incapable of distinguishing heroin from marijuana,” Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), said in response to Rosenberg’s comments. “The real question that one day will be asked and correctly answered is: Is marijuana a more dangerous drug than alcohol?”
“This is not a matter of opinion,” Dan Rifle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, explained. “[Marijuana is] far less harmful than heroin and it’s encouraging that the DEA is finally willing to recognize that.”