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. eric says:

      Unfortunately, the fact that she was nominated by this administration points pretty clearly to the fact that her actions are NOT incompatible “with the policies of this administration”. Yes we all read about the memo, and heard the president talk about his “stance” on medical marijuana and his own past drug use. But his actions on this matter have shown his intentions more clearly. He lied, something politicians do. He also admitted to trying drugs in his youth without going to jail (and he didnt volunteer either), but continues to condone locking up non-violent drug users as the head of the executive branch of the government. Thats hypocrisy, something else politicians do. And apparently the CHANGE fell in between the couch cushions.

    2. Cat Cassie says:

      Ms Leonhart knows full well the benefits of medical marijuana. That is exactly why she is blocking the research on it. She doesn’t want the REAL truth to come out.

    3. Stompedonmyrights says:

      WOW! Woulsd of never guess it, no real change even in light of new evidence, still the old lies rule. I say Nullify the Law before their eyes and see if they want to continue to violate the People.

    4. fishcreekbob says:

      The Fed doesn’t give a rats ass if someone catches a buzz. Marijuana is the smoke screen to hide the hemp fields. Hemp laws are treason against the Republic. We are forced to fund terrorism at the pumps as with the war on drugs. Hemp laws have made free enterprise illegal. Our blood and the blood of our children flows from their hands by the power of the gun. I think this truth is easy to see with just a little research.

    5. claygooding says:

      Even the rumors that she was the only person applying for the job because of the apparent failure of our drug enforcement policies at anything but spending billions of dollars,does little to put any kind of face on drug policy reform during her reign.

      There is little chance that our bought and paid for politicians will do anything but continue spending billions of dollars,doing the same thing and getting the same results,meanwhile on the home front,
      we in Texas are trying to figure out how to close prisons.

      The Feds had better start building more Federal prisons with this she-bitch in charge,,,but they can build the economy kind,since 95% of her convictions will be against non-violent “criminals”.

    6. Mark says:

      She needs to be removed from office – by force if necessary.

      [Editor’s note: Reformers NEVER need to be violent or threaten other people with their lives. Never.]

    7. ET says:

      another control freak. Do as I tell you!

    8. Matt Buompensiero says:

      Obama is starting to remind me a lot of JFK: blindly respected by people, yet with a terrible record on civil rights.

      Pharmacists do circumvent Ms. Leonhart’s idea of a “fair” prescription drug system. They see how ridiculous it is to wait 6 days too long to get a simple approval from a doctor… while your condition deteriorates…

      She’d turn her own mother in for MMJ, I’m sure. As Americans it is our responsibility to LOUDLY voice our opposition to this witch.

    9. Joel: the other Joel says:

      Be prepared for the “shock and awe” that is about to happen. Her offensive plan is going to start very soon.

    10. Melissa says:

      I hope Eric Holder (US AG)has a louder voice and more power than Michelle Leonhart. The United States can’t continuing to borrow money from China to fight this war on Marijuana, which is intering its eighth decade. The Feds will never win this war.

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