Two days after downplaying the role of marijuana in drug enforcement, Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly changed course, saying his agency would continue to arrest and investigate those who traded in it in violation of federal law, McClatchy Newspapers reports. “Let me be clear about marijuana: It is a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs,” he said in his first major speech. “Its use and possession is against federal law and until that law is changed by the United States Congress, we at DHS, along with the rest of the federal government, are sworn to uphold all the laws that are on the books.”
Marijuana advocates, who are watching to determine whether the Trump administration will deal a blow to state-level legalization efforts, said Kelly was defying science in taking a hard line on pot. Eight states – Alaska, California, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada, Oregon and Washington – and the District of Columbia have legalized recreational marijuana in some form and another 20 permit the sale of pot for medical purposes. DHS should stick to security and leave the science to the scientists,” said Mason Tvert of the Denver-based Marijuana Policy Project, told McClatchy. “This is a knee-jerk reaction among a certain generation of people that still think of marijuana as this vile, horrific substance and have yet to accept the fact that it is actually less harmful than alcohol.” Legalization advocates say Kelly’s claim that marijuana is a “gateway drug” has been thoroughly debunked by scientific studies.