Apparently neither Attorney General Eric Holder nor his boss, President Barack Obama, are familiar with the concept of sending mixed messages.
This week, Holder termed heroin use "an urgent and growing public health crisis." He is right about that.
Between 2007 and 2012, heroin use in the United States increased 79 percent, Holder noted. Heroin-related deaths have skyrocketed in some places.
Holder told reporters the Justice Department "is committed" to finding better ways to treat heroin addicts - and to enforcing federal laws against possessing and selling the drug.
He added similar emphasis will be placed on battling abuse of prescription drugs containing opioids.
All that sounds very good. It may even send a message to those tempted to use heroin, that the government is determined to enforce laws against illegal drugs.
Except that it is not.
Both Holder and Obama are on record telling the public there really isn't much wrong with using marijuana - also illegal under federal law. Holder has even made it clear federal agencies will not enforce the law in Colorado and Washington, states where recreational use of marijuana has been legalized.
That kind of on-again, off-again attitude toward illegal drugs sends the wrong message.