Bush Holdover Unanimously Confirmed To Head U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration

[Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory.]

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Michelle Leonhart by unanimous consent to head the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Miss Leonhart had served as interim director of the agency since November 2007. President Barack Obama had nominated Leonhart in February to serve as the agency’s director.

Numerous drug policy reform organizations, including NORML, had opposed Leonhart’s confirmation – arguing that her actions as interim DEA administrator were contrary to the Obama administration’s pledge to allow science, rather than rhetoric and ideology, guide public policy.

For example, Ms. Leonhart oversaw dozens of federal raids on medical marijuana providers and producers. These actions took place in states that have enacted laws allowing for the use and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes, and are inconsistent with an October 19, 2009 Department of Justice memo recommending federal officials no longer “focus … resources … on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”
Miss Leonhart also blocked scientific research that sought to better identify and quantify marijuana’s medicinal properties and efficacy. In particular, Ms. Leonhart neglected to reply to an eight-year-old petition calling for administrative hearings regarding the rescheduling marijuana for medical use. Such hearings were called for in 2009 by the American Medical Association, which resolved “that marijuana’s status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines.” Moreover, in January 2009, Ms. Leonhart refused to issue a license to the University of Massachusetts for the purpose of cultivating marijuana for FDA-approved research, despite a DEA administrative law judge’s ruling that it would be “in the public interest” to grant this request.

Finally, Ms. Leonhart has exhibited questionable judgment when speaking about the subject of escalating drug war violence in Mexico. In 2009, she described this border violence — which is responsible for over 31,000 deaths since December 2006 — as a sign of the “success” of her agency’s anti-drug strategies.

Commenting on Ms. Leonhart’s confirmation, NORML Deputy Director Paul Armentano said, “Ms. Leonhart’s actions and ambitions are incompatible with state law, public opinion, and with the policies of this administration. It is unlikely that we will see any serious change in direction of the DEA under Ms. Leonhart’s leadership.”

In December, Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl had placed a hold on Ms. Leonhart’s nomination. Senator Kohl dropped his hold on December 22, and the Senate unanimously confirmed Leonhart’s nomination the following day.

127 thoughts

  1. I’m 53 and let me tell the young people, “You will never get the stupid idiots that run this country into the ground to do anything in the intrest of the common man. They are only intrested in what the pricks that pay for their campains want so they can get richer on one form of Kick Back or another. NEVER BELIEVE ANYTHING A POLITICIAN SAYS!!! They are nothing but liers only interested in getting more power. When my mother passes away my son and I are moving to Portigal. I worked and played hard all my life and now I have cronic pain and No Politican gives a rats ass. I’ve given up on America. This is the Land of the Hypocrite. A country STOLEN from the origional owners and now we go to war with any country that tries that genocidal bull shit. I CAN’T WAIT TO GET OUT OF THE GOOD OLE U.S.A. I live in South Georgia, the capital of Dumbassastan. If you’re young and live in Georgia, get the Hell out of it if ya can’t leave the country, not unless you’re a Jesus Freak, in that case you’re in the perfect area of this Hypocrite Society. Enjoy it, I can’t stand the Red Neck Capital!

  2. George Bush, I just knew, his fingerprints are all over this!Michele Leonhart should never have been in charge of this, she is not the person we need in this goverment!!! We really need to get rid of the DEA, they are just a bunch of Bush’s hangmen against marijuana. This is getting disgusting with marijuana being illgal for 70 years plus, what is the problem???I don’t understand why this goverment will not allow a natural herb to be smoked, vaporized!!!They have so many things that are more important. Getting drunks off the road,clean up meth and lock them up. This is just a shame that this goverment has been blind for over 70+ years. We need all of you out of office, NOW!!!

  3. What Michele Leonhart represents….quote from Wikipedia… “Leonhart has consistently turned down research into the therapeutic and medicinal benefits of marijuana, and has a track record of undermining state law with regard to legal medical marijuana. She has also spoken in
    favor of the Eighteenth Amendment and suggested a federal ban on production, possession, transportation, sale, and consumption of alcohol.”  Michelle Leonhart would put this country through another round of alcohol prohibition given her druthers….PLEASE, if you are unfamiliar with the damage that alcohol prohibition did to this country ….educate yourselves.  Michele Leonhart represents and advances social policy which has a proven, documented track record of TOTAL FAILURE…policy which was tried and discarded EIGHTY YEARS AGO. Michele Leonhart is no friend of America or it’s people.  The sooner she is removed from her post as head of the DEA, the better. The War on Drugs is inarguably a dismal, costly (in terms of YOUR tax dollars and HUMAN LIVES) FORTY YEAR continuing failure….40,000 dead Mexicans, the guilty AND the innocent, all killed in the last three and a half years, can attest to that….from their graves….all of them dead as a DIRECT result of U.S. drug policy.  In contrast, 50,000 American soldiers died during the entire duration of the Viet Nam war.  Get a clue America. Neither the relative cost (adjusted for inflation and quality with respect to MJ) NOR the availability of illegal drugs has been affected by the FORTY YEAR War on Drugs….and some drugs, such as crack have DECLINED in street price.  The DEA exists to appease the irrational and unworkable moral ideals of right-wing , so-called conservative Americans whose fears are grounded in the constant drone of DEA propaganda and DEA paid-for ‘scientific’ conclusions… and because it is political suicide to NOT oppose the War on Drugs.. and last, but not least, to ensure the perpetuation of the DEA (it’s number one priority)…jobs, salaries, budgets….the War on Drugs is a growth industry for the DEA, your local cop shops, the ONDCP and the growing for-profit private prison INDUSTRY ( just as much as it is for the Mexican Cartels)..said private prison corporations trade on the NYSE . ..the mission of private prison corporations is, as is any corporation’s….to increase profits year after year…and the ONLY way they can do that and satisfy their INVESTORS, is to imprison more and more Americans….get another clue….imprisoning human beings for profit used to be called SLAVERY.  Without current drug laws, thousands of law enforcement jobs disappear overnight…..along with their budgets and the millions/billions of dollars in revenue they procure through seizures of cash money and property…both ‘legally’ and illegally.  The War on Drugs has been, effectively, 40 years of the Eighteenth Amendment applied to illicit drugs rather than alcohol….same failure, same costs, same violence, same waste of time, resources and human beings.  I honestly cannot fathom how Michele Leonhart can sleep at night. The blood of tens of thousands is as much on Michele Leonhart’s hands as it is on those of the cartel’s.  They both do the devil’s work for him. BTW…in 2009, Felipe Calderon, President of Mexico LEGALIZED ALL illicit drugs in defined amounts for personal use for Mexican citizens….instead, discouraging their use through public campaigns and offering taxpayer funded rehab for any user who requests it. Apparently Mexico recognizes the utter futility of a ‘War on Drugs’….after all, it is the citizens of Mexico who are bearing the brunt of it.

  4. The DEA/Feds need illegal drugs to fund secret ops like they had in the vietnam war running heroin and cocaine during the Sandinista/contra war. That’s why they remain illegal.Michele Leonhart is a stupid cow.

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