Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN) on Tuesday cited the death of actor Philip Seymour Hoffman while arguing that the federal government shouldn’t treat marijuana and harder drugs like heroin equally.
“It is ludicrous, absurd, crazy to have marijuana in the same level as heroin,” Cohen said during a House Oversight Committee hearing on marijuana policy. “Ask the late Philip Seymour Hoffman, if you could. Nobody dies from marijuana. People die from heroin.”
Hoffman was found dead in his New York City apartment on Sunday with a syringe in his arm. More than 50 bags of heroin were also recovered from the apartment by police.
During the hearing Cohen urged the deputy director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, Michael Botticelli, to reconsider classifying marijuana as a Schedule I drug with a high potential for abuse like heroin. He also chastised the federal government for jailing those charged with marijuana possession, which he called a a “waste of resources.”
“Every second that we spend in this country trying to enforce marijuana laws is a second that we’re not enforcing heroin laws. And heroin and meth are the two drugs that are ravaging our country,” Cohen continued. “And every death, including Mr. Hoffman’s, is partly the responsibility of the federal government’s drug priorities for not putting total emphasis on the drugs that kill, that cause people to be addicted and have to steal to support their habit. Heroin and meth are where all your priorities should be.”
Watch below, courtesy of ABC News:
h/t Huffington Post
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.