Chuck Rosenberg, head of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), says that “heroin is clearly more dangerous than marijuana”, the first sitting DEA chief to admit what most people have known for years.
The comment was made by Rosenberg during a conference with reporters on Wednesday morning. Rosenberg was clarifying comments he made last week, when he said that cannabis is “probably not” as dangerous as heroin.
Although most people understand that heroin is far more dangerous than the non-lethal cannabis plant, federal law still finds the two substances in the same category, with both being Schedule 1 controlled substances.
The comments are a direct departure from those of former DEA chief Michele Leonhart, who refused to answer whether cannabis is safer than heroin when pressed by lawmakers during a congressional hearing.
Although Rosenberg says he wants the DEA to enforce federal cannabis laws, he says that the agency should focus on “the most important cases in their jurisdictions”, which is typically “heroin, opioids, meth and cocaine, in roughly that order, and marijuana tends to come in at the back of the pack.”
Rosenberg was selected to head the DEA by President Obama in May.