• by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director November 15, 2010

    On Friday we informed you that the United States Senate Judiciary would begin confirmation hearings this week on Michele Leonhart, the President’s nominee to direct the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The hearings are scheduled to begin this Wednesday, November 17.

    As I write today on the website of the Washington, DC politico newspaper The Hill, we must demand that the Senate ask Ms. Leonhart tough questions regarding her past record and her intentions moving forward.

    Obama’s pick to head DEA needs to answer some tough questions
    via The Hill

    [excerpt] Ms. Leonhart’s actions and ambitions are incompatible with state laws, public opinion, and with the policies of this administration. At a minimum, Senators should ask Ms. Leonhart specific questions regarding her past record and her intentions moving forward. These questions ought to include:

    * What are your plans for bridging the growing divide between state and federal law concerning the use of marijuana for medical purposes?

    * How has the DEA changed its policies and practices to ensure compliance with the 2009 Department of Justice memo calling on federal law enforcement to no longer target individuals who are in compliance with the medical marijuana laws of their states?

    * When will the DEA respond to a 2002 petition to hold hearings on the rescheduling of marijuana, as were called for by the American Medical Association?

    Failure of the Senate to engage in a probing dialogue with Ms. Leonhart regarding these matters will continue to give the appearance that Congress and this administration are willing to place politics above science. This administration has specifically pledged to end this practice. It can begin doing so by demanding careful consideration be given to Michele Leonhart’s nomination.

    The Hill is the paper of record on Capitol Hill, so please click here to read my entire commentary and leave respectful feedback. Then please contact your U.S. Senator directly. For your convenience, a pre-written letter will be e-mailed to your member of the U.S. Senate when you click here. You can also call your U.S. Senate office and leave a short message by going here.

  • by Paul Armentano, NORML Deputy Director January 12, 2009

    Just days after November’s Presidential election I outlined various ways that President-Elect Obama could use the power of the executive branch to shape U.S. marijuana policy. One of my top suggestions was:

    As president, Obama can also support scientific, clinical research into the medical properties of cannabis by encouraging the DEA to abide by the February 2007 ruling of the agency’s own administrative law judge, which found that it would be “in the public interest” to allow private entities to grow medical-grade cannabis for FDA-approved trials.

    Thanks to a parting shot by outgoing DEA Deputy Administrator Michele Leonhart, the new administration may never get that opportunity.

    On Wednesday, January 7th, Ms. Leonhart published a 118-page decision setting aside DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner’s 2007 ruling. The DEA’s decision constitutes a formal rejection of University of Massachusetts at Amherst Professor Lyle Craker’s petition, filed initially June 24, 2001, to cultivate research-grade marijuana for use by scientists in FDA-approved studies aimed at developing the drug as a legal, prescription medication.

    To those not wholly familiar with this case and Judge Bittner’s ruling, here’s how I initially reported on it: (more…)