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. Melissa says:

      Sorry, I spelled a few words wrong.

    2. nObama says:

      WAKE UP PEOPLE. Ron Paul will do what he says. Just look at his voting record. RON PAUL 2012!!!!

    3. Atlanta Toker says:

      The Obama administration have lied about their position on marijuana from the very beginning. This pinhead from the Bush administration is a perfect example of the present administrations lies on this matter. Its thime the democrats decide what they really believe in and try and walk the walk for a change.

    4. Buggsy13420666 says:

      Now that the torch has been handed over from a 21ST CENTURY INQUISITOR SCHIZOID MAN to a 21ST Century inquisitor SCHIZOID XXXXX. The INQUISITION is not going to stop till MARIJUANA PROHIBITION is repealed. THE FEDS are still going crank out UNICORNS at a rate of one every 37 seconds. Keep the prisons full of non-violent offenders for a plant that was created by MOTHER NATURE and our bodies have the brain receptors to handle the chemistry of the plant. Like Obama said the whole idea was to inhale and Clinton did’nt inhale. Did they have a drug test before they went into office? I HIGHLY doubt that. Did the new DEA boss have a drug test? I HIGHLY doubt that. The people who run things in this country don’t have to worry about that because they have the money and the power and we are just the SERFS in the bottom of the barrel. I am really amazed that so few have so much control over the masses on this planet. They get what they want and get away with it and we get the SHIT in the end. I am not worried about the terrorists from abroad, I am worried about the ones in our own back yard, our own government. When will the insanity of the DRUG WAR end? GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME DEATH! And to all you ANTI-PROHIBITIONISTS HAVE A HAPPY NEW YEAR! OUR TIME IS COMING AND WE SHOULD NOT FEAR THE GOVERNMENT-THEY SHOULD FEAR US! 420 ALL THE WAY!

    5. vote for former governer gary johnson, he’s the answer to our prayers. forget obama, he’s just like the old boss.

    6. A Concerned American Citizen says:

      Remember this during his campaign?

      And this after he was elected?

      I wish I had my vote back. My only comfort is the resolve that he won’t get my vote next time around.

    7. Bob Constantine says:



    8. Andrew says:

      Its too bad that we have to point out how unAmerican it is to put this woman in a position of power. The federal government has no right to come in an “stomp on the toes” of state laws just because they can. We are American and we have rights. Why have a vote for something if the federal government is just going to step in and say “we know you voted for this, but we feel otherwise.” Thats not how voting works! Mind your own business Uncle Sam!!

    9. Andrew says:

      AND ANOTHER THING!! We have to progress as humans and keeping people on all these pills when a large number of them can be outsourced to marijuana – a harmless and helpfull substance – is just ignorant. I know they make lots of money on pills but all the side affects and addiction is not worth it. We arent mindless sheep. We’re human beings.

    10. Shane says:


      you are wrong about use of force. I understand a lot of marijuana users are pacifists. Many of us are not. Can we perhaps agree that removal by force (like a French Revolution type of thing…) **would** indeed improve our lot, but we ALSO must use enlightened self-interest and realize they will use any call to violence against us.

      i.e: yes, violence IS warranted against the united states government for their actions against otherwise innocent people. Despite that, open violence would do our cause more harm than good and thus should not be a part of our arsenal.

      However, comments on various fox news shows (have you ever seen the way Paul A says the word “prohibition”? He’s too snide and acts intellectually superior in such a way he’ll never convince anybody of his point of view), calling for logic and reasonable discussion. They MUST be made to be seen as fascist war criminals. They must be made to look IGNORANT and DISHONEST. Because that’s what they are. I think Norml is finally getting this point.

      And you can’t blame people for wanting to resort to violence. Violence is an extension of anger, which is a reaction of frustration. Your base is VERY VERY frustrated after November. Which is why platitudes like “we lost… but kind of won too!” are actually being responded to with hostility.

      Lick the wounds and come back stronger and more aggressively. Let us all accept that a defeat is a defeat so that we can get focused on a REAL win and not settle for a “phantom victory” like “almost winning”.

      ONLY Victory is victory. ONLY success is success. There may be a time where there was victory in failure. The gains of the cannabis community since then have been enough that calls such as that are now a step BACKWARDS.

      [Editor’s note: You’re a fool to endorse violence against the government and government employees over Cannabis Prohibition. Violence can’t be justified to over turn a prohibition law. If you believe otherwise, please take your misguided martyrdom and poor strategic planning to some other place on the Internet because NORML’s webpage is not a gathering place for violent, self-styled Reefer Revolutionaries.]

    Leave a Reply

    Your email address will not be published.