Using your money to study pot?

Congressman Steve Cohen on reforming marijuana policies


This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," February 26, 2014. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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O'REILLY: "Personal Story" segment tonight. The office of National Drug Control Policy is prohibited by law from studying the potential benefits of marijuana. Now one politician wants to change that.

Joining us from Washington, Congressman Steve Cohen, Democrat from Tennessee. Why spend taxpayer money on this? We all know what pot is, what it is supposed to do. I'm not talking about medical marijuana. I'm not talking about that. Let the medical people do what they want. But just the social marijuana. Why spend my money on this?

REP. STEVE COHEN (D), TENNESSEE: Because the drug czar can't even use any science at all to adjust the schedule it's in which determines the penalties that would be meted out for marijuana. And the fact is marijuana shouldn't be a schedule one with heroin. I think everybody knows that, and the drug czar should be able to use his experience, science, and give us sound basis for where it should be in the schedules.

O'REILLY: OK, but I don't mind you changing the law. You Congress people. That's what you are in business to do. That's why we elected you. You want to change the law about marijuana? You want to decriminalize it? Go, vote. All right. Fine. But I don't want to be, you know, dog and pony $10 million, $20-million-dollar study from what we already know. You smoke marijuana to get intoxicated. That's why you use it. That's why people want it. That's it? When you do that, stuff happens, so what else do we need to know?

COHEN: Well, the drug schedules are based on the likelihood of addiction and the use as a medicine. And by being a schedule one they say marijuana has absolutely no medical value, which 20 states have medical marijuana and doctors prescribe it. So, obviously that's not accurate. And they say it has the highest rate possible of addiction of any drug. And we know that's not true. OxyContin is, (INAUDIBLE) and heroin does.

O'REILLY: Then introduce a bill to decriminalize. Why don't do you just do that? I don't need a study. I'm not challenging what you say. I think marijuana is an intoxicant, all right? It's wine. If you drink a lot of wine, you are going to get bummed, if you drink a lot of beer, you're going to get bummed. If you smoke a little marijuana you're going to get buzz. That's my objection. All right? That's the THC component is much more intense than, you know, an occasional glass of wine, occasional bottle of beer. But, you know, I don't want to debate that. But if you want to decriminalize it, do it. Do it.

COHEN: Well, the state is who really ought to be decriminalizing it.

O'REILLY: But what were you talking about the federal czar here? You can't have it both ways. States are already doing what they want. Colorado and Washington State - and believe me they are going to have social problems all over the place from what they are doing. But you want it on a federal basis, and I don't object to that, by the way. I don't think marijuana is like heroin or cocaine. All right? So, pass a law. Let's see where the folks are. Come on!

COHEN: Well, we can pass laws, but the fact is, we should have - first of all, we should have a study on marijuana based on Colorado and Washington to see if we save money on the $30,000 it cost to incarcerate a person every year, to see if people who get marijuana convictions and keep them out of schools and out of public housing, out of schools scholarships and out of jobs, if that has a deleterious effect on the people in Colorado or Washington or alleviating that is better for the people in the future.

O'REILLY: But if you're going to do that kind of a study, you have to include is there a higher rate of mental addiction among children, drug driving. You have got to do the whole thing. You can't just cherry pick what you want. I will take the comprehensive study. Last word.

COHEN: We have a study we have proposed. It was a study by Shaffer in 1971, Governor Schaefer under the Nixon administration, which said it should be decriminalized. I think we ought to have a study and I think the drug czar ought to be able to give an opinion and reclassify the schedule of drugs based on science.

O'REILLY: I think we should have a vote in Congress. I think you should introduce a bill and let's have that vote. Let's see. All right, congressman. Thanks very much. We come right back. Dennis Miller on Katy Perry under fire by some Muslims. How dare they? Miller is next.

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