U.S. Attorney General Holder Compares Marijuana to Alcohol

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Breaking good on weed
Amid the pomp and puffery that is the annual ritual of the State of the Union Address (spoiler: it's always some variation of "strong") President Obama touched upon some real shit.

He at least gave lip service to income inequality, and various ideas to fix it -- universal preschool, aggressive job training and infrastructure rebuilding programs -- most of which are still ideas and not actual promulgated policy.

It was rumored Tuesday that Obama would also address the 400-pound stoned gorilla in the room and say something about drug reform. He didn't (and didn't mention prison reform and plenty other topics near and dear to the bleeding hearts that helped elect him).

But following his recent comments to the New Yorker that weed is no worse than alcohol, the booze comparison is gaining ground on Capitol Hill.

During a hearing Wednesday, Attorney General Eric Holder, America's top prosecutor, repeated that same line. Is the official White House word now that an illegal drug is no worse than a beloved legal national pastime?

In a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Holder was asked if minors would be awash in weed now that Colorado and soon enough Washington are selling legal weed.

He said, in effect, "absolutely not -- and what a stupid question."

"People cannot buy alcohol I guess now until you're age... age 21, but young people find ways to get alcohol because adults can have access to it," Holder said before the Senate Judiciary Committee. "I'm not sure that we will see the same thing here given what we have said with regard to our enforcement priorities."

Holder added, according to TIME, that the "the use of any drug is potentially harmful."

"And included in that would be alcohol."

This won't please every marijuana activist: the drug legalization party line these days is that while cannabis is certainly a drug enjoyed recreationally by millions of adults, the plant truly has medicinal qualities -- even for folks who aren't deathly ill.

For that reason, the alcohol comparison is one that actually turns some legalization fundamentalists off. However, it's also a comparison that helped turn the tide toward legalization in Colorado in 2012: without Marijuana Policy Project message-smith Mason Tvert's continual hitting on cannabis as a safer alternative to toxic alcohol, it's quite possible Denver would not be the home of legal retail weed at the moment.

And note: this is the Attorney General of the United States telling members of Congress that alcohol and marijuana should be mentioned in the same breath when talking about their harmful effects.

This is real progress, happening before our very eyes -- and we didn't need to sit through an hour-long montage of Beltway fat cats standing and clapping in order to see it.

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