Homeland Security will continue to make marijuana a major part of its criminal enforcement efforts, Secretary John F. Kelly said Tuesday, affirming the Trump administration’s policy and dealing a blow to legalization advocates who had hoped for a hands-off approach by federal authorities.
Mr. Kelly, a retired Marine Corps general who as commander of U.S. forces in Latin America got a close-up look at the cartels that smuggle the drug into the U.S., said his department considers marijuana a dangerous drug, both because it feeds the finances of the cartels and is harmful to users in the U.S.
“It is a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder drugs,” the new secretary said in a speech laying out the top enforcement priorities he’ll pursue.
His stand runs counter to many legalization advocates who say marijuana is a lower-threat drug, and have urged the federal government to take a hands-off policy toward marijuana, particularly in states that have enacted legalization laws.
Mr. Kelly said his agents, who patrol the borders, enforce laws in the U.S. interior, oversee airport security and staff the Secret Service, will continue to enforce federal marijuana laws “until the law is changed by the United States Congress.”
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