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

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 4, 2011

    [Editor’s note: This post is excerpted from this week’s forthcoming NORML weekly media advisory. To have NORML’s media advisories delivered straight to your in-box, sign up for NORML’s free e-zine here.]

    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 responses to “Bush Holdover Unanimously Confirmed To Head U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration”

    1. Rinv says:

      Crazy bitch thinks that the death of that many people is a success?

    2. Charlie plume says:

      When will ppl wake up?this is America not a dictatorship!!

    3. Rebekah says:

      I feel that, although, the Obama administration pledged to allow science, rather than rhetoric and ideology, guide public policy, he has directly contradicted himself by nominating Michelle Leonhart as director of the DEA. If we truly are for the reform of marijuana laws, Obama is not the change we are looking for. During the next presidential election all NORML members should keep this in mind while casting their votes.

    4. Genesis the Faith says:

      Is there any doubt in anybody’s mind that we’re in for some serious action, or more so, “re-action.” Congress has made yet another serious blunder, with total disregard for the people’s will, by Ms. Leonart’s appointment. I guess it’s time to “take it to the mountain,” becausd the mountain sure ain’t coming to the people, and if it does come to the people, it’s coming with it’s guns drawn. The only defense we have is state sovereinty. But – even that hasn’t stopped Michele the Bell. Those confirmers of her appointment should go dig a bigger political hole than they already have. Liberals, Democrats, Conservatives, Republicans, and anything that resembles a politician, you’re about to feel the weight of We the People. Good luck and God Bless your souls.

    5. Obamas a real let down. I am sick and tired of his cowering to the Republicans. We would all be better off with Hillary, I think. Call me crazy but I do believe the Rich Republican hicktards are doing everything in their power to screw Obama and the American people. What kind of dumbed down Conservatives believe this Tea Party nonsense? Republicans = Less government!!! HAHAHAHA!!! Look at Mexico. It is screwed. No more growth and it is run by warlords. Law Enforcement personnel support this B.S. Every chance they get. As an American I apologize to Mexico for the high demand for crack and meth. Its the fault of American druggies. NOT!!! It is the greed of law enforcement that brings such high profits into dealing of Cocaine, Heroin and Meth. I took A criminal Justice class in 1995 and the professor said he likes the laws against Marijuana for the creation of Law Enforcement jobs. The Mexicans are Coming!!!

    6. Zeppy says:

      What a big disappointment, this lady is so far off the map of society and will say just about anything to lock up a nice secure job like that. Not expecting any change.
      SCIENCE > Assumptions, Lies, Fear, Thoughts

      Thanks NORML, i check this page daily!

    7. True American says:

      How are any of you shocked about this. Did you actually believe that Obama was any different than any other well spoken politician. Youll never find the truth on the lips of any career politician.

      If you want change you have to go grab it. Ranting on the internet is a very dosel way of exspression.

      If you want change get out in the streets in masses and draw the attention of CNN, FOX, MSNBC among others; because this aint gonna cut it.

    8. claygooding says:

      I wonder how much pork Kohl got to drop his hold?

    9. E says:

      Big surprise! We’ve got another winner for the DEA revolving door of no science, let’s keep it illegal so we make money department of all FAIL departments to add to the clogged anus of this government. This stinks to high hell!

    10. Mrs. Rat'sRectum says:

      Fits well with the NOW equal rights, congrats Michelle, hope you’re getting paid retroactively since you’ve been doing the top cat’s job for a while anyway.

      Michelle, we’re gonna need you to go with marijuana legalization and lay off of cannabis, help us implement legalization, and make sure this position isn’t your glass ceiling. It’d be nice if you could go through the revolving door in about 2 years and become a pro-cannabis lobbyist, even post-legalization pro-cannabis advocate.

      I just can’t see much of a profitable future in being anti-cannabis through legalization and even after legalization. Out of favor in DC is out of a job for too many.

      Rather sooner than later. Raise the debt ceiling, legalize and raise revenue.

      The Beat Goes On by Sonny & Cher