DEA Chief in Hot Water After Calling Medical Pot a 'Joke'

7 lawmakers and 100K signatures call for his removal
By Michael Harthorne,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 20, 2015 4:17 PM CST
DEA Chief in Hot Water After Calling Medical Pot a 'Joke'
Pressure from the public and lawmakers is mounting for Obama to remove new DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg after he called medical marijuana a "joke" earlier this month.   (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)

Medical marijuana supporters aren't joking; they want new DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg replaced now, Extract reports. Rosenberg has been in hot water with cannabis fans since calling medical marijuana a "joke" earlier this month. He also hedged on whether pot is safer than heroin. On Friday, Marijuana Majority delivered a petition with approximately 100,000 signatures to the DEA asking Obama to fire Rosenberg. “Calling medical marijuana a ‘joke’ runs counter to science showing that cannabis has medical value, and it is out of step with the vast majority of Americans," the Marijuana Majority's chairman says. But it's not just the public calling for Rosenberg's ouster, the Hill reports. Seven lawmakers sent a letter to Obama on Thursday asking for him to be removed.

“He is an example of an inept, misinformed zealot, who has mismanaged America’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition," Rep. Earl Blumenauer said on the House floor. Lawmakers call Rosenberg a hypocrite for blocking research while claiming the science is out on medical marijuana, according to Extract. Vox, meanwhile, notes there is increasing evidence that pot does have medical value. It cites a Journal of the American Medical Association study that finds it can effectively treat chronic pain and thus allow people to skip opioid painkillers. Rosenberg doesn't seem to be buying it, though. “What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal—because it’s not,” he said in the remarks that caused this controversy. “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine—that’s a joke.” (Pot has surpassed tobacco among college students who smoke.)

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