Sen. Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyThe Hill's Morning Report - Democratic debates: Miami nice or spice? Senate Finance leaders in talks on deal to limit drug price increases Million-dollar drugs pose new challenge for Congress MORE (R-Iowa) suggested Tuesday that the Obama administration's support of marijuana legalization has sent children the message it's acceptable to use the drug.

Grassley's comments came in response to a National Institutes of Health study showing that a majority of high school seniors don't think occasionally smoking marijuana is harmful. Only 16.4 percent of respondents said it puts people at risk, down from 27.4 percent in 2009.

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The expected incoming Senate Judiciary Committee chairman cited President Obama saying the recreational marijuana legalization initiatives in Colorado and Washington should "go forward" and Attorney General Eric Holder saying he was "cautiously optimistic" about marijuana legalization. Grassley argued that the Obama administration's "pro-marijuana messages" are at odds with health experts' recommendations. 

"When kids receive the message that marijuana use is acceptable and even welcome, it’s no wonder that the perception of harm from marijuana goes down," Grassley said in a statement. "By offering pro-marijuana messages, the president and his top appointees are working at cross purposes with the federal government experts who are trying to stop drug use among teenagers."

Grassley is among the conservative Republicans who are skeptical of legalization.

"Those of us in the public eye have an obligation to make sure kids understand the dangers of all drug use, including marijuana," Grassley said. 

Most recently, Republicans inserted a rider into the "cromnibus" that would prevent the District of Columbia from using federal or local funds to enact any laws to legalize or reduce penalties for marijuana possession.