NORML Opposes President Obama’s Pick To Head The Drug Enforcement Administration

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director July 21, 2010

    FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – July 21, 2010

    Following Recent Raids, Medical Marijuana Advocacy Groups Call on President Obama to Withdraw Nomination of Michele Leonhart to be DEA Administrator

    Obama’s DEA Head Must Follow Stated Medical Marijuana Policy, End Obstruction of Marijuana Research, and Base Marijuana Rescheduling on Science Rather than Ideology

    CONTACT: Allen St. Pierre, Executive Director, 202-483-5500 or director@norml.org

    WASHINGTON, DC – Today, a coalition of organizations supportive of medical marijuana patients and providers (see list of organizations below) are calling on President Obama to withdraw his nomination of Michele Leonhart to serve as administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Ms. Leonhart, who is currently the DEA’s acting-administrator, has not demonstrated that she is capable of leading the agency in a thoughtful manner at a time when fourteen states have enacted medical marijuana laws and science is increasingly confirming the therapeutic benefits of the substance.

    “It is clearly time for President Obama to insist that his appointees adhere to current Justice Department guidelines regarding state laws regulating the medical use of marijuana, and that marijuana be fairly evaluated by all federal agencies, based on science, not ideology,” said Allen St. Pierre, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the nation’s oldest marijuana legalization lobby. “The Obama administration should be working with us to eliminate criminal penalties for the responsible use of marijuana by adults, regardless of whether it is medical use or otherwise.”

    Under Leonhart’s leadership, the DEA has staged medical marijuana raids in apparent disregard of Attorney General Eric Holder’s directive to respect state medical marijuana laws. Most recently, DEA agents flouted a pioneering Mendocino County (CA) ordinance to regulate medical marijuana cultivation by raiding the very first grower to register with the sheriff. Joy Greenfield, 69, had paid more than $1,000 for a permit to cultivate 99 plants in a collective garden that had been inspected and approved by the local sheriff.

    Informed that Ms. Greenfield had the support of the sheriff, the DEA agent in charge responded by saying, “I don’t care what the sheriff says.” The DEA’s conduct is inconsistent with an October 2009 Department of Justice memo directing officials not to arrest individuals “whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.”

    Ms. Leonhart has also demonstrated that she is unable to be objective in carrying out the duties of the administrator as it relates to medical marijuana research. In January 2009, she refused to issue a license to the University of Massachusetts to cultivate marijuana for FDA-approved research, despite a DEA administrative law judge’s ruling that it would be “in the public interest” to issue the license. This single act has blocked privately-funded medical marijuana research in this country. The next DEA administrator will likely influence the outcome of a marijuana rescheduling petition currently before the agency. It is critical that an administrator with an open mind toward science and research is at the helm.

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    The following organizations are calling on President Obama to withdraw the nomination of Ms. Leonhart if she does not end the attacks on individuals acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws and commit to making decisions related to medical marijuana based on science, not a personal anti-marijuana bias:

    California NORML

    Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)

    Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)

    Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)

    National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

    Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)

    71 responses to “NORML Opposes President Obama’s Pick To Head The Drug Enforcement Administration”

    1. Drew says:

      @ The Oracle, Who are the reform groups, we legalizers, suggesting then for the position? Christians Against Prohibition nominated Russ Jones since he has DEA experience, and submitted his name.

    2. jimbo,So.Jersry says:

      Who wants a world with lots of happy,good feeling people running around. Wouldn’t make much sense in an economy that is run by American suffering. Wars,prisons,drug company’s that make all sorts of chemical concoccions for whatever may ail you. Peaceful,happy non-violent people are not what makes our miserable planet turn,it’s the violence,the misery,the suffering.Putting Michele Leonhart in a position to continue a policy of ignorance, is a decision only Harry J.Anslinger could appreciate.

    3. Igor says:

      Contact your elected representatives, including Obama. A letter to the White House may be just the ticket. It is likely that Obama seldom reflects upon the DEA, which is irrelevant to the nation, because he feels he has more important matters on his plate.

    4. todd says:

      hi I’m President Barack Hussein Obama. I am smart and I know people all across america will believe in me if I use the word, change, over and over again people will love and want me in government. wut up pres. Its time for action.

    5. jt says:

      I love how the image says “President Bush”

    6. Somedood says:

      You go guys! I hate that unholy bitch Michelle Leonhart!

    7. LDude says:

      Our Nicotine Addicted Hypocrite in the Oval office is in too much of a Nicotine fog to do anything so reasonable

    8. jgmarsh says:

      People need to wake up to what Obama actually stands for, rather than what he said during the campaign. He is a prohibitionist plain and simple. Every action he has taken and every word he has uttered since his election contradicts his promise to restore science in public policy. Even his administration’s supposed stance on medical marijuana states is pure bullsh*t. The DEA has continued raids in California, and Obama’s justice department has continued to bring providers up on federal charges. In San Diego county, a federal judge recently ruled that a defendant couldn’t use Obama’s or Eric Holder’s statements on the federal government’s position in his defense. He ruled that it wasn’t reasonable for someone to believe what Holder said on the issue, that the defendant would need a personal assurance from the federal government that they wouldn’t prosecute him. Obama has lost all support from me. With public opinion in support of medical marijuana, it would have been easy for him to take a reasonable, science-based approach to the issue. The fact that he hasn’t shows me who he really is: another prohibitionist who doesn’t give a sh*t about personal freedom.

    9. jim says:

      All I know is that I voted for change.

      The current state of affairs is unacceptable. Cannabis prohibition is an unjust law. Private interests control public policy and the result is social injustice.

      In a country where the highest ideal is freedom, liberty with personal responsibility, Cannabis prohibition is a disgrace including the DEA’s draconian bent against Cannabis in the past, regardless of actual drug safety, side effects, and the possible benefits the Cannabis plant affords to humankind. Medicine. Nutrition. Safer than alcohol, safer than aspirin. Not harmless, nothing is, but Cannabis is the safest therapeutic medicine.

      Yet tobacco is legal. And fertilized with chemicals that are known to contain radioactive isotopes and this is subsidized by our government (i.e. your tax dollars). Then tobacco companies take the tobacco and add hundreds of compounds to make cigarettes more addictive and people are dying in the most miserable way in droves, all the while Cannabis is “illegal.”

      Cannabis prohibition is an unjust law.
      Cannabis prohibition is Unjust.
      Cannabis prohibition is Unfair.
      Cannabis prohibition is Unreasonable (there are no sincerely good reasons for it).
      Cannabis prohibition is a cause of much social injustice and lack of faith in our leadership and disdain for “the law” or what is supposed to be the spirit of the law.

      Cannabis prohibition is a crime against humanity.

      “How does one determine whether a law is just or unjust? A just law is a man made code that squares with the moral law or the law of God. An unjust law is a code that is out of harmony with the moral law. To put it in the terms of St. Thomas Aquinas: An unjust law is a human law that is not rooted in eternal law and natural law. Any law that uplifts human personality is just. Any law that degrades human personality is unjust.”

      “One has not only a legal but a moral responsibility to obey just laws. Conversely, one has a moral responsibility to disobey unjust laws. I would agree with St. Augustine that “an unjust law is no law at all.” -MLK

      I think most people understand this deep down, even those who have not read Letters from a Birmingham Jail. That is why Cannabis prohibition has been totally ineffective and at the same time has created organized crime at the expense of taxpayers, in the name of good intentions.

    10. E says:

      Some very eloquent words I have read on this page. I have to ask of the government hack(s) and prohibitionists what it must be like knowing that sooner or later, their little drug war will come to an end? Sooner or later, they will have to face up to the science. Truth is on our side, and we are going to win.

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