At DEA, Business As Usual
And more of the same if Leonhart is confirmed as agency head
By Jordan Smith,
7:05AM, Tue. Nov. 16, 2010
The U.S. Senate this week is set to consider the appointment of Michele Leonhart as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration – a move that many advocates say would be bad for progress on pot and other drug-law reforms.
Indeed, Leonhart is a holdover from the Bush Administration, where she reigned over an agency that seemed to really, really enjoy busting medi-pot users, even those using and growing the drug in compliance with state laws. In fact, even after President Barack Obama made good on a campaign promise to end raids of medi-pot patients and dispensaries, Leonhart's DEA kept on keeping on, as if the new policy banning most such raids had not already taken effect. That fact has long bothered drug-law reformers who see Obama's move to keep Leonhart as, at best, back-peddling.
Moreover, it was Leonhart who rejected the DEA administrative law judge's ruling that University of Massachusetts professor Lyle Craker should be allowed to grow a test crop of pot for federally-approved research projects.
This summer, a group of drug-law reformers – including NORML, the Marijuana Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, and Students for Sensible Drug Policy – called on Obama to dump Leonhart. "It is clearly time for...Obama to insist that his appointees adhere to current Justice Department guidelines regarding state laws regulating the medical use of marijuana, and that marijuana be fairly evaluated by all federal agencies, based on science, not ideology," said Allen St. Pierre, NORML's executive director.