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Obama’s DEA Nominee Pledges To Ignore Administration’s Medical Marijuana Policy

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 18, 2010

    It was a little over a year ago when the United States Department of Justice announced that it would back away from pursuing cases against medical marijuana patients and providers who are acting in accordance with state and local laws.

    “As a general matter, pursuit of [federal law enforcement] priorities should not focus federal resources … on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana,” The DOJ announced on October 19, 2009. “For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.”

    Apparently Michelle Leonhart, President Obama’s nominee to direct the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, didn’t get the memo.

    Speaking yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on day one of her Senate confirmation process, Leonhart pledged to ignore the administration’s formal medical marijuana guidelines.

    Michele Leonhart one step closer to officially heading up the DEA
    via The Daily Caller

    [excerpt] Acting director Michele Leonhart is that much closer to officially heading up the Drug Enforcement Agency after successfully navigating a hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

    If confirmed to the position she’s already held for three years, Leonhart said she would expand the DEA’s anti-cartel operations in Mexico and continue to enforce federal drug laws in states where medical marijuana is legal.

    … Perhaps due to the failure of Prop 19 in California (and despite the passage of medical marijuana in Arizona), Kohl, along with Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Al Franken of Minnesota, made no mention of medical marijuana. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, however, made it his prime focus.

    “I’m a big fan of the DEA,” said Sessions, before asking Leonhart point blank if she would fight medical marijuana legalization.

    “I have seen what marijuana use has done to young people, I have seen the abuse, I have seen what it’s done to families. It’s bad,” Leonhart said. “If confirmed as administrator, we would continue to enforce the federal drug laws.”

    “These legalization efforts sound good to people,” Sessions quipped. “They say, ‘We could just end the problem of drugs if we could just make it legal.’ But any country that’s tried that, Alaska and other places have tried it, have failed. It does not work,” Sessions said.

    “We need people who are willing to say that. Are you willing to say that?” Sessions asked Leonhart.

    “Yes, I’ve said that, senator. You’re absolutely correct [about] the social costs from drug abuse, especially from marijuana,” Leonhart said. “Legalizers say it will help the Mexican cartel situation; it won’t. It will allow states to balance budgets; it won’t. No one is looking [at] the social costs of legalizing drugs.”

    It is shocking to learn that not a single Senator who attended the hearing, in particular Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island, had the courage to demand that Ms. Leonhart respect the laws of the 15 states that have legalized the use of marijuana as a medicine. In the case of Sen. Whitehouse, his own state is now in the process of licensing state-certified marijuana providers and distributors; yet he appears to have no problem with the idea of appointing a federal official who declares her intention to put his own constituents in federal prison.

    It gets even more disturbing. In the days leading up to Wednesday’s initial confirmation hearing, a coalition of advocacy groups — including NORML, Americans for Safe Access, and others called on members of the Senate Judiciary to ask Ms. Leonhart tough questions regarding her public record, one that is incompatible with state laws, public opinion, and with the policies of this administration. Yet not a single Senator did so.

    There is a growing divide between state and federal law concerning the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and it would only take members of the Senate — or Ms. Leonhart for that matter — a cursory scan of today’s google headlines to see it:

    Prop 203 Passes: Medical Marijuana to Be Legal in Arizona
    via CBS News

    New Mexico approves six new medical marijuana producers
    via The New Mexico Independent

    Maine couple cleared to open marijuana clinic
    via The Associated Press

    DC revises medical marijuana regulations
    via Comcast

    As we’ve written before, as Interim DEA director, Ms. Leonhart has overseen dozens of federal raids on medical marijuana providers, producers, and laboratory facilities that engage in the testing of cannabis potency and quality. Yesterday Ms. Leonhart pledged to continue these actions — actions that violate this administration’s own written policies, and more importantly, actions that target the civilians of fifteen states and the District of Columbia. These people are the constituents of 30 percent of the U.S. Senate; yet not even one of these elected officials appears willing to speak up for them. That is disgraceful.

    Want to write or call your Senator about Ms. Leonhart’s nomination process? You can still do so here and here.

    162 Responses to “Obama’s DEA Nominee Pledges To Ignore Administration’s Medical Marijuana Policy”

    1. john says:

      im not voting for obama our anybody else leave us alone go after coke our herion meth drug cartels why cant mom and pop grow and dispense medical marijuana i guess ur against americans making money rich get richer why we suffer thenks for nothing mr.obama u needto look in the mirror a american of the usa trying to raise my family

    2. Adam says:

      Sue the Federal Government.

    3. hurting in florida says:

      I live in florida, and suffer from chronic pain. I take large doses of opiates for the neck and neuropathic pain down my arms and legs, from a helmet to helmet football injury with broken first rib at the time (19830.
      how and where? can i try medical marijuana to know if it will help me. Is there anything I can do, or any place to go outside of Amsterdam to try medical marijuana?
      Please help, any information if appreciated

    4. Rookie says:

      I also live in Florida. We have some of the harshest laws regarding drugs in this country. To answer your question directly NO you are not permitted MJ of any sort in the State of FL. You will go directly to jail if they dont shoot you first.

      As far as where you could go, someone else will have to address that. As far as I know or believe, every state that has approved Medical requires that you be a resident to have access.

    5. Mr. Rocco S says:

      of the people by the people means nothing this woman if elected by the people would never make it to first base anyone who smokes pot knows that it is not dangerous how long can the people ignore the evil of alchohol how many familys destroyed how many adds selling that poison to our kids and friends it makes me sick marijuanna kills noone I voted for obama how can he just let us down like that this woman is obviously evil herself and needs the big dropkick the people who uphold these archaic laws are just afraid of losing their jobs why cant law enforcment concentrate on real criminals murderers people who hurt others it easy to concentrate on victimless crimes real police work is hard busting the kid selling weed on the corner is a slam dunk compaired to real police work solveing real crimes.take away their bread and butter and noone is in prison its time to vote out all these people who oppose the peoples will getting sick just writting about it i need a joint we need to rally around NORML due the things ness to bring the power of what is right back to the people not to the stuffed shirts that make promises and break them look at all the violence surrounding prohibition many people died before booze was legalized
      to bad pot doesnt encite vio

    6. A.J. says:

      People, if you don’t like this idiocy, you have a choice. His name is Dr. Ron Paul. Individual freedom. States’ rights. Balanced budget. No foreign ‘police actions’. Legal cannabis. He will follow the Constitution of the United States. Common sense. Get the word out, and vote for Ron Paul. Now is your chance to make a difference.

    7. YO let anonymous know!! #Anonymous Every body RT !! RS!!

    8. […] 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 […]

    9. azchipperdog says:

      I think that Pres. Obama should step down now before He gets HAARRP all riled up and starts the new madrid a crackin just so he can feel good about dumpin Louisanna’s bayou country into the ocean, where as all the oil that that was supposedly capped off at deepwater horizon, is actually STILL pouring into the Gulf of Mexico …. As the planes take off in the evening to spray CORREXIT on the gulf to keep the oil down at the bottom, out of site from our BP Hatin’ EYES!!!!!

    10. azchipperdog says:

      Lest us not forget the men that died the day of DWH fire and explosion. And as I understand it, there has been no firings, dismissiles, or manslaughter charges filed concerning the deaths of said BP employees…. You know who was at fault… We know who should take responsibility for the that whole mess…but…. there is still time for an alien encounter… or maybe a federal collaps of our economy….Relax smoke another joint and watch Nibiro come in for that Extinction Level Event…(ELE).. that nobody is talking about…. I just hope david Sayers shows up on my doorstep soon with MY PCH CHECK that he keeps telling me Ive practically already WON…

    11. […] enforcement in medical marijuana states. During Leonhart’s confirmation hearings in 2012, she affirmed Sessions’ assertion that legalization can’t succeed and agreed to continue War on Drugs […]

    12. […] in medical marijuana states. During Leonhart’s confirmation hearings in 2012, she affirmed Sessions’ assertion that legalization can’t succeed and agreed to continue War on […]

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