WATCH: Pot legalization by states 'reckless and irresponsible,' DEA official testifies

WASHINGTON - A high-ranking Drug Enforcement Administration official says the rise of legalized marijuana in states like Colorado scares his agents.

James L. Capra said DEA agents have watched the initial days of legal marijuana sales in Colorado with consternation.

"There are more dispensaries in Denver than there are Starbucks," he testified before a Senate committee earlier this week. "The idea somehow people in our country have that this is somehow good for us as a nation -- that this is good for the next generation of Americans, sir, is wrong. It's a bad thing."

Capra called the legalization of marijuana by states "reckless and irresponsible" and said it will have severe consequences in the future.

"Every part of the world where this has been tried, it has failed time and time again," he said in an impassioned statement. "And here we are.  The voters have decided to do this. It's going impact the state, the surrounding states..."

Capra's comments marked the DEA's most public and pointed criticism of the movement toward decriminalization in several states, where some local officials see it as an opportunity to generate tax revenue and boost tourism, according to the Washington Post.

Capra said that he worries about the long-term consequences of the national mood favoring marijuana, which law enforcement experts call a gateway to more dangerous drugs.

"This is a bad experiment," he said. "It's going to cost us in terms of social costs."

Capra is the Chief of Operations at the DEA.

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