Confirmed: DEA Head Michele Leonhart Stepping Down

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director April 22, 2015

    Michele LeonhartDrug Enforcement Administration head Michele Leonhart is stepping down, US Attorney General Eric Holder has confirmed.

    Members of the US House Oversight Committee gave Leonhart a vote of “no confidence” last week after an Office of the Inspector General report revealed that senior DEA officials had participated in sex parties arranged by Colombian drug cartels and had also received weapons and cash from cartel members. None of the agents involved were fired by director Leonhart.

    Michele Leonhart began serving as the agency’s acting director in November 2007 before being confirmed as DEA administrator in 2010.

    Leonhart had consistently taken a hardline stance against any change in marijuana policy. Early in her tenure she oversaw dozens of federal raids on medical marijuana providers and producers in states that had legalized the plant. She set aside a verdict from the agency’s own administrative law judge that sought to expand and facilitate clinical research into marijuana as a medicine and she rejected an administrative petition calling for marijuana rescheduling hearings. She openly criticized remarks made by the President acknowledging cannabis’ relative safety compared to alcohol, and criticized the administration’s efforts to allow states to implement limited regulatory schemes for the retail production and sale of cannabis to adults. In public testimony, Leonhart refused to acknowledge whether she believed that crack cocaine, methamphetamine, or heroin posed greater risks to health than marijuana — instead opining, “All illegal drugs are bad.”

    Ms. Leonhart also actively opposed hemp law reform during her time as DEA director. She criticized a decision to fly a hempen flag over the Capitol, saying it was “her lowest point in 33 years in the DEA.” Last year, her agency unlawfully seized 250 pounds of legal hemp seeds destined for Kentucky’s state Agricultural Department.

    Always a true believer in the drug war no matter what the costs, in 2009 she described increased southern border violence as a sign of the “success” of her agency’s anti-drug strategies.

    Michele Leonhart is expected to leave the agency in mid-May.

    96 responses to “Confirmed: DEA Head Michele Leonhart Stepping Down”

    1. Ben says:

      My understanding is that there is nothing positive to this woman’s history in that role,
      and that her departure is, at least partially, a good thing…

      Being that she invested effort into furthering prohibition, is it not possible that, with recent polls, etc., that the next person in this role may aid our cause?

    2. Anonymous says:

      Leonhart and the DEA are traitors and scumbags, the epitome of corruption. Dismantle the DEA immediately, they’re a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars.

    3. William H says:

      This is fantastic news. Thanks to my friend, Sen. Cohen for grilling this neanderthal, and the House Oversight for handing over the final coffin nails. A true win for the people.

      Now we need to fire the agents involved!!

    4. Brian says:

      Good riddance beeauch.

    5. Thomas Bowes says:

      This official is out of step with the majority of Americans. She is echoing the mantra of Harry Anslinger, a director of the National Bureau of Narcotics Enforcement way back in the oh so enlightened 20’s and 30’s. Marijuana prohibition encourages lawlessness, makes foreign suppliers of marijuana wealthy, and results in many many Americans who are otherwise law abiding, receive criminal convictions and jail time out of proportion to any harm they may do by smoking or possessing marijuana.

    6. Closet Smoker says:

      Don’t let the door smack your back side on your way out Ms Leonhart.

      Good riddance to you!

    7. Fireweed says:

      ding dong the witch is dead?….but will another ignorant hypocrite just take her place?

    8. Rebecca Trujillo says:

      It should be legal hemp along with cannabis has so many uses when it comes to medacial uses. Make it legal. If you have looked into the benifets of this drug then you should would know the benefits of it. Saving lives killing cancer.. so many things that can be done with it.

    9. jarrod says:

      Good riddance to that crooked bigot

    10. TheOracle says:

      After she resigns I’m waiting to see if she’s a dyed-in-the-wool prohibitionist, and goes through the revolving door to work for prohibitionist lobby groups such as SAM or Drug Free America, whatever, maybe writes a prohibitionist book like Bill Bennett.

      Or will she show remorse like McKay who went after Marc Emery?

      The pro-cannabis politicians in DC need to get their legislation pushed through Congress as soon as possible before someone is installed to replace Leonhart. The new head of the DEA will then be tasked with rewriting the mission statement and policies and standard operating procedures for the newly enacted cannabis friendly laws.

      Finally the DEA will have a mission that leaves the cannabis community alone!

      Unless we miss this chance–and then who knows how long we’ll have to wait.

      I’m tired of waiting. Congress needs to do this.

      Legalize now.