White House Drug Official Slammed For Refusing To Say If Pot Is More Addictive Than Meth

By McCarton Ackerman 02/11/14

Rep. Earl Blumenauer blasted drug policy deputy director Michael Botticelli for equivocating on the differences between pot and meth.

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In a recent public hearing, the vague comments regarding the dangers of marijuana use from the deputy director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy have set off one politician. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) had asked Michael Botticelli if pot was more dangerous and addictive than cocaine or meth, but the deputy director refused to directly answer the question. Botticelli acknowledged that “there’s relative toxicity related to those drugs,” but declined to say which was more harmful because he felt “the conversation minimizes the harm.”

The response was more than insufficient for Blumenauer. “Being unable to answer something clearly and definitively when there is unquestioned evidence to the contrary, is why young people don’t believe the propaganda, why they think it’s benign,” he said. “If a professional like you can’t answer clearly that meth is more dangerous than marijuana — which every kid on the street knows, which every parent knows — if you can’t answer that, maybe that’s why we’re failing to educate people about the dangers. How do you expect high school kids to take you seriously?”

Botticelli attempted to defuse the situation and explained that he wasn’t trying to be disrespectful, but Blumenauer literally threw his hands up in frustration. “I asked what was more dangerous; you couldn’t answer it. And I just want to say that you, sir, represent what’s part of the problem,” he said. “I’d respectfully suggest that you and the department take a step back if you’re concerned that somehow people think marijuana is benign, part of the reason is that drug professionals can’t communicate in ways the rest of America does.”

Watch Blumenauer lay into Botticelli at the hearing:

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McCarton Ackerman is a freelance writer and editor living in Portland, Oregon. He has been a contributor for The Fix since October 2011, writing on a wide range of topics ranging from medical marijuana in Colorado to the world's sexiest drug smugglers. Follow him on Linkedin and Twitter.