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US lawmakers, drug enforcement clash on marijuana law

DEA's Thomas Harrigan testifies on May 25, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DCUS lawmakers who support steady relaxation of state laws on marijuana sparred Tuesday with Obama administration officials who continue to label the drug in the same high-danger category as heroin. The Drug Enforcement Administration’s chief deputy said marijuana deserved to remain listed as a “Schedule 1” narcotic — a list which includes severely addictive drugs including LSD and ecstasy — even though he could not identify a single fatal overdose attributable to cannabis last year. “Marijuana is the most widely available and commonly abused illicit drug in the United States,” the DEA’s Thomas Harrigan told a House panel in a joint statement with John Walsh, the US attorney in Colorado, which along with Washington state legalized recreational marijuana use this year. They said abuse among young Americans is on the rise, with marijuana’s more potent production methods and increased trafficking by international drug cartels the growing concerns.

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