01/15/2014 11:13 pm ET Updated Jan 25, 2014

DEA: State Marijuana Legalization 'Reckless And Irresponsible'

WASHINGTON -- The decision of Washington state and Colorado to legalize a plant directly responsible for the deaths of zero people is "reckless and irresponsible," a top Drug Enforcement Administration official said Wednesday.

“It scares us,” James L. Capra, the DEA chief of operations, said at a Senate hearing on drug cultivation in Afghanistan, according to The Washington Post. “Every part of the world where this has been tried, it has failed time and time again.”

The DEA -- which has a museum at its headquarters building that features a mock medical marijuana distribution center placed directly next to a fake crack house -- falls under the Justice Department, which decided last year to allow state laws that legalize and regulate recreational marijuana in Washington and Colorado to move forward. There has been an internal war within President Barack Obama's administration throughout his presidency on marijuana issues. While the administration seems to be easing its enforcement of federal drug laws in states that have passed legalization, hard-liners remain at the DEA.

Last month, DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart blamed legalization efforts on the fact that an increasing number of high school seniors don't see regular pot use as harmful.

On Wednesday, Capra said DEA agents -- at least those who haven't left for jobs in the marijuana industry -- have been dismayed to watch legalization go forward.

“There are more dispensaries in Denver than there are Starbucks,” Capra said, according to The Washington Post. “The idea somehow people in our country have that this is somehow good for us as a nation is wrong. It’s a bad thing."



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