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Attorney General Holder: All Drugs, Including Alcohol, Are “Potentially Harmful”


Attorney General Eric Holder told a Senate committee Wednesday that all drugs, including alcohol, are “potentially harmful.” He was responding to a question about whether he agreed with President Obama’s recent comment that smoking marijuana was less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.”

Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, in a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee, said, “It’s difficult for me to conceive how the President of the United States could make such a statement.” President Obama made his comment about marijuana in an interview with The New Yorker. He told the magazine he does not think marijuana is more dangerous than alcohol. He added smoking marijuana is “not something I encourage.”

He acknowledged he smoked marijuana in his youth. “I view it as a bad habit and a vice, not very different from the cigarettes that I smoked as a young person up through a big chunk of my adult life,” he said. Obama added he has told his daughters he thinks smoking marijuana is “a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.”

CNN reports Holder told the Senate committee, “I think that any drug used in an inappropriate way can be harmful. And alcohol is among those.” Marijuana is illegal under federal law. Colorado and Washington state have approved the recreational use of marijuana for adults 21 and older. At the hearing, Holder reaffirmed that the federal government will not challenge state laws legalizing marijuana, and will focus enforcement efforts on preventing marijuana use in minors.

8 Responses to this article

  1. Liam Turner / July 22, 2014 at 10:35 pm

    All drugs are harmful, that’s why drink moderately.

  2. Avatar of Alcohol Rehab
    Alcohol Rehab / February 4, 2014 at 4:19 am

    The problem is that a LOT of people really do understate things when it comes to marijuana. And there are also a lot of reasons why: ignorance, capitalism, justification, etc. But the fact is, everything has a good side as well as a bad side. And marijuana, for all of the good things that it has, also has a really ugly bad side, whether everybody will admit it or not. Anybody who says “marijuana isn’t harmful” has never seen an addict/abuser from the perspective of those who are affected by them.

  3. Rebecca Smith, MEd / February 1, 2014 at 11:41 am

    This is a complicated argument. Is marijuana more dangerous than alcohol? Realistically? Probably not. Alcohol is a terribly dangerous drug…if used improperly. Marijuana and alcohol are not good for the brain or the body. But let’s get real here. Black and white thinking isn’t going to help. Drinking in moderation and smoking marijuana recreationally happens all over this country…everyday. Is everyone addicted? No. Because I can’t drink in moderation, should alcohol be banned? Of course not. I choose NOT to smoke marijuana or use any mind altering drugs. Should all adhere to my beliefs? NO! I, for one, am tired of the ‘war on drugs.’ It has not worked. I am also tired of drug cartels making billions off illegal trafficking and killing innocent people because they won’t be ‘drug mules’ for their marijuana trade. (I live near the Mexican border.) Illegal or not, humans want to use mind altering drugs. Why? Because we live in a caustic world full of strife and stress. I use meditation and yoga to cope. Should everyone? No! Not all are ready for the kinder, gentler way to cope with and to be in the world. I have worked in the addiction / recovery field for 32 years. What have I learned? Harm Reduction is better than ‘Just Say No.’ It leads more people, who are addicted, to the eventual realization that life is NOT better through the lense of a mind altering substance. I grew up with addicted parents (dad lost his medical license due to his abuse, mom was a suicide due to her addiction ), have had addicted children and been married to addicts. I know a few things about the pain of not being able to get someone to stop killing themself with alcohol and other drugs. I also know it is a brain chemistry disorder. But more importantly, I know addiction is a spiritual disconnect at at the deepest level! Namaste.
    Rebecca Smith, MEd

  4. Avatar of Michael G Hayes,MD
    Michael G Hayes,MD / January 31, 2014 at 5:52 am

    The quote that I read was “marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol” which implies that alcohol is not too dangerous. The President like most of us is naive or at least uninformed. Alcohol is a toxic substance in any dose and is the scourge of this society. Prohibition was NOT the answer but limitation of access would have been. Too late. Why would we legalize another mind altering substance to our situation when our two present ones are literally “killing us”!! We are not very bright.

  5. Grainne Kenny / January 30, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Alcohol is legal because you can use it safely depending on the amount of units imbibed and the age of the user. Abuse is lethal. However,cigarettes are lethal at any age or level of use. The US Surgeon General will support this. Marijuana, on the other hand is banned under the UN Conventions on Narcotics because like tobacco there is no safe limit of use and it is equally addictive. It shows President Obama and his advisers in a very bad light internationally to dismiss the advice of experts. Not only as a President but as a parent. Mr Holder is equally culpable in his terminology in defence of his President. Read the scientific literature Mr Holden or talk with the families whose lives have been blighted by this addictive and poisonous drug. As an family and addiction counsellor for many years I can attest to this. Our conscience is what differentiates us from the animal kingdon. Eventually we are all answerable.

  6. Avatar of bob wiley
    bob wiley / February 3, 2014 at 9:18 pm

    Grainne… Please stop the “Reefer Madness” nonsense. Marijuana is SAFER than alcohol by nearly any way you want to measure. There has never been an overdose death caused by consuming too much marijuana. Unlike alcohol, marijuana is NOT toxic to the human body and can be described as taking the “toxic” out of intoxication.

    Marijuana is about as “addictive” as caffeine and chocolate.
    Most of the harms we associate with marijuana arise from the consequences of it being illegal, NOT from the result of consuming. Yes we need to keep marijuana out of the hands of our children, but lying to them about its “dangers” is not the answer.

  7. bob wiley / February 3, 2014 at 9:25 pm

    Michael.. Why not give adults the legal choice of a recreational substance safer than alcohol? Marijuana is not associated with domestic violence, is not capable of causing overdose death, and has vast medical efficacy.

    Why shouldn’t adults have the legal choice?

    Please go to the library and read “Marijuana is SAFER, So why are we Driving our People to Drink?” It is a well documented comparison of alcohol and marijuana that will inform you about this issue.

  8. bob wiley / February 4, 2014 at 12:06 pm

    Alcohol Rehab.. Who is telling us “marijuana isn’t harmful”? Nothing we consume is absolutely harmless. Too much salt, sugar, aspirin, too many Big Macs can be harmful, so lets compare the harms associated with marijuana to those we commonly see from alcohol use. Both are detrimental to developing brains and should be regulated accordingly.

    The “Marijuana is Harmless” straw-man distracts from an honest discussion of marijuana. We need to have the courage to speak truthfully about all substances because our teens can easily see through our “Reefer Madness” messaging.

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