Have we mentioned lately how much we love Rep. Jared Polis? If not, allow us to reiterate, using his recent grilling of Drug Enforcement Agency chief Michelle Leonhart as People’s Exhibit 1. Long frustrated at Washington’s hypocrisy regarding marijuana laws, the Boulder lawmaker attempted to get Leonhart to admit that smoking pot was less dangerous than using drugs like heroin and methamphetamine, which, like marijuana, are Schedule 1 drugs under the Controlled Substances Act.
Leonhart wouldn’t bite. In fact, Polis posed the question with slight variations 11 times in just over three minutes during a hearing Wednesday at the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Crime, Terrorism and Homeland Security, but Leonhart dodged them all.
“Is crack worse for a person than marijuana?” he asked.
“I believe all illegal drugs are bad,” Leonhart answered.
“Is methamphetamine worse for somebody’s health than marijuana?” Polis continued.
“I don’t think any illegal drug is good—”
“Is heroin worse for someone’s health than marijuana?”
“Again, all drugs, illegal drugs–”
“Yes, no, or I don’t know?” Polis interrupted. “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 a very straightforward question: Is heroin worse for someone’s health than marijuana?”
“All illegal drugs are bad.”
“Does this mean you don’t know?”
This Abbott and Costello routine went on for some time, with similar results. (Watch the full exchange here.) It would have been funny if it didn’t illustrate so starkly the government’s head-in-sand approach to reforming marijuana laws in light of indisputable evidence that marijuana is, in fact, much less dangerous and less harmful to users’ health than other illicit drugs as well as many prescription medications.
Polis has made it a habit to make DEA agents look like fools. Prior to this exchange, he blasted Denver’s new DEA Special Agent In Charge Barbra Roach for saying that she was shopping for a home in a community that has outlawed dispensaries and voiced her concern that marijuana grow operations are a danger because they might expose people to “mold and water damage.”
Polis lambasted her on his Facebook page.
“Her choice of where to live in our state is absolutely her own decision (though I question her judgment, she is entitled to her decision),” he wrote, “but to publicly state shortly after arriving … that living in our premier city and many of our great towns is outright unacceptable to you is nothing short of an affront to our entire state.”
He then addressed the DEA’s pressing concern over mold and water damage:
“No doubt that some idiots have flooded their basements growing marijuana. No doubt that some idiots have flooded their basements growing tomatoes. I stained my tiles in my living room last year growing narcissus. OK. So for this we need a federal cop busting people?
“I mean, if you are dumb enough to flood your basement or create hundreds of thousands of dollars of mold damage, that is entirely your own fault and federal law enforcement should NOT be in the business of preventing you from ruining your basement. The fact that an opponent of medical marijuana uses arguments like ‘it causes water damage to homes’ shows how bankrupt that side is of facts.”
Now you see why we love this guy?
Greg Campbell is the author of Pot Inc.: Inside Medical Marijuana, America’s Most Outlaw Industry.