Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Secretary John Kelly on Tuesday called marijuana "a potentially risky gateway drug", and vowed that his agency, ICE, TSA and CBP would take a hard-line stance on the substance.
"The definition of criminal has not changed, but where on the spectrum of criminality we operate has changed", Kelly said on his first appearance on a Sunday talk show since taking over the agency in January, according to a transcript provided by the network.
In an apparent allusion to widespread outcry that followed the first executive order, which temporarily banned immigration from seven Muslim-majority countries, Kelly dinged lawmakers for criticizing the agency personnel responsible for carrying out USA policies.
Lawmakers, politicians and advocacy groups may hear "a partial or inaccurate media report" and "assume the men and women of DHS are intentionally abusing innocent individuals while breaking or ignoring US laws or court orders, instead of assuming as they should that the men and women of DHS are carrying out their assigned mission in accordance with the law". They have been asked to do more with less, and less, and less. "But as the years have passed we've grown complacent", Kelly said.
The DHS wants to hire 10,000 additional immigration and customs-enforcement officials and 5,000 more border-security agents.
On February 7, 2017, Secretary Kellytold members of the House Homeland Security Committee that the agency is considering a wide range of methods of "extreme vetting", including requiring that visa applicants provide passwords to their social media accounts.
The threat is "more than bombs and guns", he said.
Kelly's hard line on pot echoes other Trump administration officials, who have made clear that they have no interest in following the Obama administration's efforts to de-emphasize pot and focus on other harder drugs.
Notably, last Thursday Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government introduced legislation to let adult possess up to 30 grams of marijuana in public, a measure that would make Canada the largest developed country to end a nationwide prohibition on recreational marijuana (RM). "President Trump has recognized this and taken it on".
"Additionally, science tells us that it is not only psychologically addictive but can also have profound negative impact on the still developing brains of teens and up through the early 20s", Kelly said. They deserve our nation's thanks and respect.
He counted 37 "ISIS-linked" plots to attack the United States since 2013, and said there have been 36 "homegrown terrorist cases" in 18 states over the a year ago alone. "The cost to the United States is over $250 billion a year", said Kelly. He added that if lawmakers don't like what they are doing, then lawmakers should change the laws they are following.