Drug Official Admits Alcohol a Bigger Threat Than Pot
Michael Botticelli's reluctant admission came in Congressional hearing
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 5, 2014 6:03 AM CST

(Newser) – The deputy director of the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy admitted yesterday—only after much prodding—that pot is less dangerous than alcohol and other drugs. Michael Botticelli was questioned at a House Oversight Committee hearing by Rep. Gerry Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, who first asked how many people die from marijuana overdoses per year, the Raw Story reports. Botticelli said he didn't know, but that it's "very rare." Botticelli then admitted there's no comparison between the volume of marijuana deaths and deaths from prescription drugs. But when Connolly turned the line of questioning to alcohol, Botticelli deflected the question—twice.

Connolly finally ordered him to answer: "When we look at deaths and illnesses, alcohol, other hard drugs are certainly—even prescription drugs—are a threat to public health in a way that just isolated marijuana is not. Isn’t that a scientific fact? Or do you dispute that fact?" Responded Botticelli, "I don't dispute that fact." Connolly used that to argue that President Obama wasn't being reckless when he said he doesn't think pot is more dangerous than alcohol. Botticelli went on to clarify that despite that comment, the White House opposes states legalizing marijuana, CBS News reports. He added that Obama thinks pot "is a public health challenge and that we need to deal with it as a public health challenge."