DEA Chief Cites Surge Of Illegal Pot Shipments From CO After Legalization


The Drug Enforcement Administration is concerned about a surge in the illegal shipment of marijuana from Colorado since the state legalized the drug, and is trying to crack down on minors' use of the substance, says DEA chief Michele Leonhart. She told a Senate hearing the DEA is troubled by the increase in marijuana trafficking in states surrounding Colorado and worries that the same phenomenon could be repeated around Washington state, where recreational marijuana is expected to be sold legally soon, the Washington Post reports. In Kansas, she said, there has been a 61 percent increase in seizures of marijuana from Colorado.

Speaking to the Senate Judiciary Committee, Leonhart said the softening of attitudes nationwide about the risk of marijuana has confirmed some of the agency's fears. “The trends are what us in law enforcement had expected would happen,” she said. “In 2012, 438,000 Americans were addicted to heroin. And 10 times that number were dependent on marijuana.” The Obama administration has said would not challenge legalization laws in Colorado and Washington as long as the two states maintained strict rules regarding the sale and distribution of the drug. The Justice Department directed federal prosecutors not to target individual users but instead to focus on eight areas of enforcement. Those aims include preventing the distribution of marijuana to minors, stopping the drug from being grown on public land, keeping marijuana from falling into the hands of cartels and gangs, and preventing the diversion of the drug to states where it remains illegal.

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