john kelly

Homeland
Security Secretary John Kelly.
Andrew
Harnik/AP

Secretary of Homeland Security John Kelly called marijuana a
‘gateway drug’ on Tuesday, a clear signal that the
DHS’s stance on marijuana reflects that of the
Jeff Sessions-led Justice Department
, and
the Trump administration

“Let me be clear about marijuana,” Kelly said
during comments at George Washington University in D.C.
“It
is a potentially dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to
the use of harder drugs.”

Kelly referred to the “vast tonnages” of marijuana and hard
drugs that ‘TCOs’ — transnational criminal organizations — move
across the border from Mexico. 

Though Kelly has come out in favor of prosecuting
marijuana, he told
NBC’s “Meet the Press”
on Sunday that marijuana “isn’t a
factor” in the drug war, and is scarcely the biggest issue on the
US-Mexico border. 

“The solution is not arresting a lot of users,” Kelly
added. 

A number of
states voted to legalize adult marijuana use
in November,
though it’s still illegal at the federal level.

Kelly said that until Congress passes a law to change
marijuana’s federal status, “we in DHS are sworn to uphold
all the laws on the books.”

“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.

Kelly pledged to investigate marijuana’s “illegal pathways”
into the US, and arrest those involved with the drug trade
“according to federal law.”

Perhaps most tellingly, Kelly said that Immigration and
Customs Enforcement, or ICE, would continue to use marijuana
possession and distribution convictions as “essential elements”
for deportation of undocumented immigrants.

Trump signed an executive order in February that
vastly expands the powers of ICE
and other border
officials, which has resulted in an
increase in the amount of undocumented immigrants arrested

during the first few months of 2017. 

The Trump administration’s stance towards marijuana
legalization has given states pause on whether to roll out new
legislation, such as
marijuana-friendly clubs and restaurants

Here’s Kelly’s full comments:

“And let me be clear about marijuana. It is a potentially
dangerous gateway drug that frequently leads to the use of harder
drugs. 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. Beyond that, however, its use and possession is
against federal law and until the law is changed by the U.S.
Congress we in DHS are sworn to uphold all the laws on the books.

DHS personnel will continue to investigate marijuana’s illegal
pathways along the network into the U.S., its distribution within
the homeland, and will arrest those involved in the drug trade
according to federal law. CBP will continue to search for
marijuana at sea, air and land ports of entry and when found take
similar appropriate action.

When marijuana is found at aviation checkpoints and baggage
screening TSA personnel will also take appropriate action.
Finally, ICE will continue to use marijuana possession,
distribution and convictions as essential elements as they build
their deportation / removal apprehension packages for targeted
operations against illegal aliens. They have done this in the
past, are doing it today, and will do it in the future.”

SEE ALSO: Jeff Sessions says he will enforce federal law in an ‘appropriate way’ — and the marijuana industry is rattled