Confirmed: DEA Head Michele Leonhart Stepping Down

Drug Enforcement Administration head Michele Leonhart is stepping down, US Attorney General Eric Holder has confirmed.

Members of the US House Oversight Committee gave Leonhart a vote of “no confidence” last week after an Office of the Inspector General report revealed that senior DEA officials had participated in sex parties arranged by Colombian drug cartels and had also received weapons and cash from cartel members. None of the agents involved were fired by director Leonhart.

Michele Leonhart began serving as the agency’s acting director in November 2007 before being confirmed as DEA administrator in 2010.

Leonhart had consistently taken a hardline stance against any change in marijuana policy. Early in her tenure she oversaw dozens of federal raids on medical marijuana providers and producers in states that had legalized the plant. She set aside a verdict from the agency’s own administrative law judge that sought to expand and facilitate clinical research into marijuana as a medicine and she rejected an administrative petition calling for marijuana rescheduling hearings. She openly criticized remarks made by the President acknowledging cannabis’ relative safety compared to alcohol, and criticized the administration’s efforts to allow states to implement limited regulatory schemes for the retail production and sale of cannabis to adults. In public testimony, Leonhart refused to acknowledge whether she believed that crack cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin posed greater risks to health than marijuana — instead opining, “All illegal drugs are bad.”

Ms. Leonhart also actively opposed hemp law reform during her time as DEA director. She criticized a decision to fly a hempen flag over the Capitol, saying it was “her lowest point in 33 years in the DEA.” Last year, her agency unlawfully seized 250 pounds of legal hemp seeds destined for Kentucky’s state Agricultural Department.

Always a true believer in the drug war no matter what the costs, in 2009 she described increased southern border violence as a sign of the “success” of her agency’s anti-drug strategies.

Michele Leonhart is expected to leave the agency in mid-May.

96 thoughts

  1. Wiens brood men eet diens woord men spreekt.

    Whosever bread you eat his are the words you speak.

    How true. How true, when your mission statement is prohibitionist. Will someone from the legalization side offer Michele a job she can’t resist, very well-paid. While she’s writing her book, so she can put something in the book to save face. After all she must know that cannabis will be legalized within her lifetime–she’s not that old–and can go down in history somehow as having reconciled things, you know, and not be like Dick Cheney, unrepentant to the very end. Waterboarding! Thanks to Alberto Gonzales, Attorney General at the time, waterboarding was no longer torture. Well, if that can happen the U.S. can look the other way on international treaties prohibiting cannabis and can assert its exceptionalism and just legalize.

  2. …the jail time suuuucked
    But it made me wise

    Prohibition is livin
    Off the scared sick and the poor

    Until we realiiiiize
    We gotta legaliiiiize…

    If I could use our tax dollars
    For what they call “white collars”
    It’d still be a crime to me

    But down here in Texas
    The parties with sexes
    Sure the Hell aint free

    The DA straight
    cant investigate
    They put the fox in charge of the hens

    But she’s so f’d up
    On pills and a cup
    O vodka that she just pretends

    But the truth come out
    And we had our doubt
    That law enforcement was the mob

    So we’ll march in the street
    May no prohibition repeat
    Cuz thats our job!

    Till we realiiiize
    We gotta legaliiiiize
    The sex parties
    Are no surprise

    Cuz prohibition
    Of any kind
    Is just damn wrong

    So let’s get hiiiiigh
    And legaliiiiize

    Ita been alright
    If we could all hit the light
    So Help the sick please
    Pay yer hooker, an’ goodnight.

    But that aint the way
    The DEA wants to play
    Cuz their strip tease
    Is billed “Us” for pay

    And if that aint enough
    Then they leave all their stuff
    For sex with the Coke cartel

    And while we’re all in jail
    Throwin their bail
    If they’re good, we can’t even tell!

    So let’s realiiiiize
    We need to legaliiiize
    Michelle Leonhart
    Sure aint the prize!

    For too long we’ve been livin
    With this C.S.Act disguise
    And Legaliiiize…

    And Legaliiize…

  3. I had seen her being raked over the coals for some reason on CSPAN the other day. I knew the reason couldn’t have anything today with marijuana. Turns out it was condoned agent behavior. These damn DEA agents were attending sex parties.

    Obviously, this is a few bad apples, but these guys have had no problem with stereotyping marijuana users as lazy no-accounts. I can’t smoke a joint, play guitar, and write a song in my own living room, but these clowns are free to attend sex parties. These self-centered hypocrites disgust me, just like FOX news marijuana lies.

    Plus I wasn’t invited to the party!

  4. “Realize and Legalize”

    Michele Leonhart Drug Enforcement Administration Michele Leonhart is stepping down…Anne Green: “Yay; whoo-whoo; applause; whistles; yahoo; Praise the Lord; Blessings!”
    Will Obama “step up to the plate”+ reschedule?

  5. Jesus said: “The Harvest is Ripe…the harvesters are few”; having meditated on this: I will be applying for an “IND w/FDA”;
    I want my “piece of the Gov’s Marijuana Pie”!
    Otherwise I might go bankrupt!!!!!!!!!A.Green!

  6. I found 3 seeds in my weed; so I will try those: I recall my Dad vacuuming my room years ago and saying; “what are all those hundreds of seeds I vacuum? oh Dad; those are MJ seeds; WE SHOULD HAVE SAVED THEM TO SELL!!!(GOD LOVE YOU DAD)

  7. In the past, her kind of ignorance and loyalty was rewarded with bigger and better involvement, promotions and advancements, with corresponding pay and responsibilities. Today people with her background is destined for public elected office or corporate leadership on brand name alone.

  8. Sex parties? I must be working for the wrong organization! I haven’t had sex with any woman sense 1996; ha ha ha ha ha ha.

  9. Where there is hypocrisy, there is moral weakness, moral laziness and irresponsible indulgence.
    Leonhart is a scum, contemptuous of ethics, contemptuous of right and wrong, willing to preach at others but not willing to do what is right or even what is tolerated!!

  10. Good riddance Leonhart. May you yourself experience the inside of a jail cell one of these days.

    @Erik K. Johnson, regarding your question, that’s the part of Obama I don’t like. I voted for him twice, and would still vote for him over any Republican today–can’t think of one of them I’d vote for–but have trouble with more than a few of his policies, including TPP, and letting Bush and his fellow war criminals completely off the hook. But he did allow those four states to proceed with MJ legalization; I’m not certain many GOPers would have done that. (Rand Paul probably would, of course, but he’d never get my vote for other reasons.)

  11. One useless asshole down, but not out. I’m sure she’ll be writing books about how bad marijuana and marijuana users are. How more need to be purged from government?

    Michele, you are a worthless thief.

  12. Nobody has ever die from the use of Marijuana Period .Cut the buearu cratic BULLSHIT , you get paid to appose it. You are a Selfricious DINK with no actual education in the matter. The only reason you have a job is cause you BLOW your bosses !!

  13. Yes, Miss Leonhart.

    Something from the Equatorial Highlands…The Pygmy strain,that was considered a knockout African-Sativa,for you’re pleasure.

    Baby,its all on you!!!

  14. @Evening Bud

    We agree on all points.

    I voted for President Obama twice as well…do you think he will grant me a Federal pardon so that I may be allowed to receive medical care in The State of Illinois( in the form of cannabis therapy) that my Physician believes would improve my health?…as of today, Cannabis Criminals are forever excluded from receiving health care under Illinois Medical Cannabis Law HB1… The “Compassionate” Act?

    I am advocating for medical marijuana for others suffering in Illinois.

    I am among the many thousands of others being discriminated against who are wrongfully excluded despite the fact they medically qualify.

    For one example, I qualify (condition wise) x three.

    My “Cannabis Crime” was in 1989…haven’t had so much as a speeding ticket since.

    I am a tax paying Home owner and was a first time offender…in 1989.

    The law in Illinois will not stand as written.

    When will the persecution stop…I often wonder.

    I’m still wondering.

    I hope I will not be forced to seek the answer from a Federal Judge?

    Do you hear me Mr. Lang?…Mr. Haine?

  15. DEA thinks they outrank God himself! They have ruined many good people . They do not set a good example . How can they sleep good a nite when they have not saved a life .Meanwhile ,100’s die everyday from alcohol and tobacco .They say ignorance of the law is not justifiable .Really? This country better come out of their deep coma and understand that their enemy is the Cartels; not the Americans! Legalize if you really want to win this weird made up political so called war on drugs. Ypu couldn’t win your war on alcohol & tobacco, and I am sure your ignorant ways will not win this one either. Thumbs down to the DEA.

  16. You people slay me. She was following the laws which REQUIRE the head of the DEA to oppose any and all attempts to legalize cannabis. She hasn’t got the power to change anything about the status. That is in the hands of Misters Holder and Obama, and can be done without Congressional aid or involvement. Wow. Just. Wow. Learn about your government, much, people? It’s like they love to hand us a cookie, and watch us drool all over ourselves.

  17. Wakeup, wake up;

    An executive order to deschedule would be a collective effort from the President, attorney general, surgeon general, secratary of Health and Human Services (which owns the patent for cannabinoids as neurprotectants #6630507), NIDA and last but not least, the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which officially muzzles the drug czar, the DOJ and so on by an amendment to the C.S.Act which uses our tax dollars to deny the medical efficacy of marijuana.

    The momentum of executive orders is moving to schedule 2, but any other president could reverse that decision, and any new head of the Hydra could emerge after Leonhart providing Congress doesnt do their job and amend or nullify the C.S.act entirely.

    The root of these bad people are bad laws. Obama could tear the wall down, but Congress has to ultimately do something about the thousands of minions building it back up within the C.S.Act. This isn’t rocket science, we dont even need an amendment to the Constitution to end prohibition, (but perhaps one to keep marijuana prohibition from happening again…)
    All we need are more Congressman like Senator Corey Booker D-NJ and Rand Paul, R-KY to work together across the aisles to get the wall down for good, brick by painful little brick.

    Another very important sign from Obama of where he stands on the issue of legalization is the recent warning “to those of you that think that marijuana is some kind of panacea, beware, there are pharmacuetical companies willing to exploit that.”
    My answer to that is
    1): marijuana provides basic, non-toxic, non-violent cannabinoid nourishment and neurogenerative treatment without death.
    2): therefore patent 6630507 should be made OPEN SOURCE, relieving Americans from those who wish to patent and profit from the sick and the poor, and prohibition will not continue anymore.

    By the way, if you are reading this and you vote in the State of Texas, please visit the Take Action page here or
    And prepare to call every member of the committee who will hear HR3785 to support the recently introduced medical marijuana bill.
    Here is the recent flyer for action alert:

    Texas NORML is the state representative, as well as the Austin chapter, of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. In addition to working on marijuana law reform, we also focus on public education and spreading awareness of the issues surrounding marijuana.
    Is this email not displaying correctly?
    View it in your browser with the address above to recieve links to take action.

    Action Alert
    HB 3785 Committee Hearing
    Comprehensive Medical Marijuana Hearing in Austin, TX

    We stood by Rep. Márquez as she announced the introduction of House Bill 3785, Texas’ first bill that would create a whole plant, comprehensive medical cannabis program. Now the bill is up for consideration by the House Public Health Committee! Stay up to date by joining our event page.

    Starting at 8:00 a.m., you can SIGN UP IN FAVOR OF THE BILL. You can sign up on the Underground Extension on one of the consoles in the hallway. **Please dress professionally.**

    But, you don’t have to come all the way into the building in order to sign up. Once you are within range the Capitol WiFi network, you can sign in on your mobile device. Instructions found here. (Note: You do not need to stay at the Capitol after signing up in favor of the bill. This should take about an hour from parking to completion of sign in.) **Please dress professionally.**

    PARKING INFO found here. (Bring quarters if you’d prefer to use street parking.)

    BUILDING MAPS found here.

    The hearing starts at 8:00 AM and you must sign up BEFORE the bills hearing has concluded. There will be over 20 bills heard and once HB 3785 has been heard, no more witnesses can be taken on it. We advise you to get there early to show your support. We will keep updates on the event page.

    If you are unable to travel to Austin, please contact the lawmakers in your district and ask them to support HB 3785 here.

    Your Texas NORML Team

    Donate to our Lobby Campaign. Become a Member. Find Texas NORML Merchandise.
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    Looks like a good reason to go take lunch in Austin tommorrow!

  18. This goes bright to the heart of quiet anger. You work hard all day then come home tired, and dirty. They party on your tax dollar…

  19. I don’t think that’s entirely true since the DEA holds much influence over the DOJ. That is what has kept the AG from removing cannabis from Title 21 scheduling which that exact same law allows the DOJ to do.

  20. ^Wrong. The head of the DEA just enforces the law. Her testimony to congress was just her opinion, there is no law ‘requiring’ her to oppose any and all attempts to legalize it. And it’s congress that has the power to change it, Obama could only do it my executive order, which probably end up in court in a heartbeat. I believe that the only reason most law enforcement opposes legalization in any form has to do with the reduced number of arrests that help pad their number of arrests, which means they would either have to go after the other drugs more, or give up a chunk of their funding that is being used for chasing down pot plants.

  21. @Erik K. Johnson,

    I honestly can’t say. It seems like he’s evolved on a couple of issues–but then he acts like just another corporatist stooge on other issues . . .

    FDA and Marijuana
    Looking for Treatment
    The FDA understands that caregivers and patients are looking for treatment options for unmet medical needs. In some instances, patients or their caregivers are turning to marijuana in an attempt to treat conditions such as seizures and chemotherapy-induced nausea.
    Untested Drugs can have Unknown Consequences
    Over the last few decades, there has been significant interest in the potential utility of marijuana for a variety of medical conditions, including those that already have FDA-approved therapies.
    More recently, several states have also passed laws that remove state restrictions on health care professionals using marijuana as a medical treatment for a variety of conditions. A number of other states are considering similar legislation regarding the use of marijuana in medical settings.
    FDA’s Role in the Drug Approval Process
    The FDA has not approved marijuana as a safe and effective drug for any indication. The agency has, however, approved one drug containing a synthetic version of a substance that is present in the marijuana plant and one other drug containing a synthetic substance that acts similarly to compounds from marijuana but is not present in marijuana. Although the FDA has not approved any drug product containing or derived from botanical marijuana, the FDA is aware that there is considerable interest in its use to attempt to treat a number of medical conditions, including, for example, glaucoma, AIDS wasting syndrome, neuropathic pain, cancer, multiple sclerosis, chemotherapy-induced nausea, and certain seizure disorders.
    Before conducting testing in humans of a drug that has not been approved by the FDA, an investigator submits an investigational new drug (IND) application, which is reviewed by the FDA. An IND includes protocols describing proposed studies, the qualifications of the investigators who will conduct the clinical studies, and assurances of informed consent and protection of the rights, safety, and welfare of the human subjects. The FDA reviews the IND to ensure that the proposed studies, generally referred to as clinical trials, do not place human subjects at unreasonable risk of harm. The FDA also verifies that there are adequate assurances of informed consent and human subject protection.
    The FDA’s role in the regulation of drugs, including marijuana and marijuana-derived products, also includes review of applications to market drugs to determine whether proposed drug products are safe and effective for their intended indications. The FDA’s drug approval process requires that clinical trials be designed and conducted in a way that provide the agency with the necessary scientific data upon which the FDA can make its approval decisions. Without this review, the FDA cannot determine whether a drug product is safe and effective. It also cannot ensure that a drug product meets appropriate quality standards. For certain drugs that have not been approved by the FDA, such as marijuana, the lack of FDA approval and oversight means that the purity and potency of the drug may vary considerably.
    As with other drugs that are not approved by the FDA, the agency works closely with the medical and patient communities, and our federal partners when necessary, to allow access to experimental treatments through the expanded access provisions described in the FDA’s statute and regulations. The FDA’s expanded access provisions are designed to facilitate the availability of investigational products to patients with serious diseases or conditions when there is no comparable or satisfactory alternative therapy available, either because the patients have exhausted treatment with or are intolerant of approved therapies, or when the patients are not eligible for an ongoing clinical trial.
    FDA Supports Sound Scientific Research
    The FDA also has an important role to play in supporting scientific research into the medical uses of marijuana and its constituents in scientifically valid investigations as part of the agency’s drug review and approval process. As a part of this role, the FDA supports those in the medical research community who intend to study marijuana.
    The FDA also supports research into the medical use of marijuana and its constituents through cooperation with other federal agencies involved in marijuana research. Conducting clinical research using marijuana involves interactions with other federal agencies:
    The FDA reviews the IND application and the research protocol submitted by the applicant.
    The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reviews the registration application filed by the researcher.
    The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) within the National Institutes of Health operates pursuant to the Single Convention on Narcotic Drugs. NIDA has been designated the responsible agency to supply research-grade marijuana to researchers.
    State Legislation on Marijuana
    Several states have either passed laws that remove state restrictions on the medical use of marijuana and its derivatives or are considering doing so. The FDA supports researchers who conduct adequate and well-controlled clinical trials which may lead to the development of safe and effective marijuana products to treat medical conditions. We have talked to several states, including Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, New York and Pennsylvania, who are considering support for medical research of marijuana and its derivatives to ensure that their plans meet federal requirements and scientific standards.
    Go for it !! Anne Green !

    FDA and Marijuana: Questions and Answers
    Marijuana Research with Human Subjects

  23. @Wake Up People

    Correct me if I’m wrong, because I very well could be, but isn’t the AG also “required” to follow (federal) laws? I wasn’t aware that the AG had the power to change the status of a law, thought that was the privilege, within the Executive branch, only of the POTUS.

    And yes your “Wow. Just. Wow.” comment did sufficiently chastise me. I confess to not being a “constitutional scholar.” In all honesty, I sometimes find our constitution a pretty tough thing to interpret, what with the legalese and such.

    One part, under Section 8–Powers of Congress–reads: “To exercise exclusive Legislation in all Cases whatsoever, over such District (not exceeding ten Miles square) as may, by Cession of particular States, and the acceptance of Congress, become the Seat of the Government of the United States, and to exercise like Authority over all Places purchased by the Consent of the Legislature of the State in which the Same shall be, for the Erection of Forts, Magazines, Arsenals, dock-Yards, and other needful Buildings; And . . . ”


    If you could interpret that nugget for me, WakeUpPeople, then perhaps I can have a reference point with which to interpret the rest of the document.

  24. Wake up people you are a stupid prick, look at the video, that bitch has caused pain suffering and even deaths. Time for you to Wake Up, who do you think enforces these laws?

    Your post is the dumbest in this article forum

  25. Read US Code Title 21 (sub chapter one). It will answer all of your questions. I can post part of it here if you wish.

  26. The thing about the sex parties is, either these guys are undercover DEA or they aren’t. If they are, then, wtf?! Not very undercover. And if they aren’t…then how much would you trust these guys if YOU were undercover. So her overlooking this is way more serious than boys-will-be-boys.

  27. And these are the people who raid medical marijuana dispensaries and shut down the establishments that are here to help the sick.

  28. This woman is atrocious. These people in their thrones, high up on capitol hill have never even tried any of these drugs they are so called experts on. This woman doesnt know shit.

  29. @ Julian wrote: “An executive order to deschedule would be a collective effort from the President, attorney general, surgeon general, secretary of Health and Human Services (which owns the patent for cannabinoids as neurprotectants #6630507), NIDA and last but not least, the Office of National Drug Control Policy,
    Thanks for the info Anne CT USA

  30. Obama is a superb politician. He’s not shy about grabbing power, but he’ll take no executive action on marijuana. Legalizing medical/recreational marijuana is rapidly becoming mainstream opinion. He will not give the conservatives/prohibitionists a chance to portray himself and the Democrats as extremists. History is happening before our eyes just like when the Berlin Wall came down. Conservatives will be forced to abandon the prohibitionist elements among them.

    Our part in this magnificent story is to vote against the prohibitionist influence in politics wherever we find it.

    ‘Watching the world go down in history’ – Jesus Jones

  31. @anne
    I didnt even include the Director of the DEA under the circumstances. Congress needs to amend the C.S.Act to make descheduling permanent. That means we need to call and write our Congressman, and get our friends and family to do the same.

  32. @Jim – “This woman doesnt know shit.”

    Funny, but I think that is all she knows! 🙂

  33. cheduleThere is nothing in CSA “Title 21 (Sub chapter I)” that prevents the USAG from descheduling,. In fact it gives the USAG both the athority and responibility to add/move/delete any substance from the schedule list. And there is nothing in it requireing the FDA to be the sole source of research on it.

  34. If you just look at how our great “SHINING CITY ON A HILL IN D.C. has handled the MJ issue should cause you to wonder about our system. Prisons for profit and probation for profit ruin our young peoples lives so corrupt law enforcement agency’s can profit. The way they can grab a citizens belongings and sell them for police gain exclusively just reeks of corruption. Lets face it if it takes over 40 years for our government to correct this wrong. We are suckers if we believe Washington works for us . This culture of lying to us and imprisoning us at a higher rate than any place on earth is not the moves of a free country. Shame on this DEA HEAD AND ALL OF HER LIKE MINDED IDIOTS! Evaluate and vote out the politicians who are allowing us to be misled on this issue. VOTE ,VOTE

  35. UGH!

    I watched that video clip, AGAIN
    and look at her face-
    aside from the fumbling pointless arguments she tried to press, look at her face-
    it looks like she is really coming off a serious multiplexed bender.


  36. Michele, sweetheart..Don’t let the door hit you on your pretty red caboose on the way out.

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