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DEA Chief: Marijuana Legalization Just 'Makes Us Fight Harder'

By Hey :-), Apr 7, 2014 | | |
  1. Hey :-)
    WASHINGTON -- Far from being discouraged by the shifts in public opinion, state laws and even within the Obama administration on the legalization of marijuana, federal drug agents are now driven to "fight harder," Drug Enforcement Administration chief Michele Leonhart said Wednesday.

    Leonhart, who reportedly criticized President Barack Obama for comparing marijuana to alcohol during a closed-door meeting with a law enforcement organization, suggested during testimony Wednesday before a House Appropriations subcommittee that voters in Washington state and Colorado were duped into legalizing marijuana.

    While several questions from Republican members of the committee referred to Obama's marijuana comments, as well as to Attorney General Eric Holder's decision in August to allow marijuana regulation to proceed largely unchallenged, Leonhart's answers tiptoed around any direct criticism of her bosses. But Leonhart did say that DEA's issues with the legalization of marijuana in Washington and Colorado were "well known" within the Justice Department and the White House before DOJ made its decision. She noted that there was "a lot of confusion in that 296 days while they were reviewing it and deciding how to proceed."

    Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.) said he thought that the attorney general would come to regret his decision to allow legalization in Washington and Colorado to move forward. "This being a legacy for Eric Holder, when he looks back on it and sees the devastation it will have on this country, he will live to regret it," Wolf said. "He will wish he could get these years back." Wolf then asked Leonhart whether DEA agents have been feeling demoralized as a result of the legalization.

    "Actually, it makes us fight harder," Leonhart replied.

    Without referring specifically to Obama's comments, Leonhart said that pro-marijuana messages are stronger now than they have been in the past 30 years, and that DEA officials are very worried about the consequences for teens who are being "bombarded" by such messages.

    "It's of great concern to us the messages we hear on television, in the radio, in songs -- and now, my fear is that kids are hearing it from their own parents," Leonhart said. "It's important to have the facts about marijuana put out there in ways that kids, teens, young adults, parents can look at it and see that what they've been sold -- that this is no big deal -- is not true."

    Leonhart also implied that voters in Washington and Colorado had been misled about the benefits of legalizing marijuana.

    "What was explained to the voters was how much money that they'd be raising. What was explained to the voters was that this was good for law enforcement, because then police could go after the real crimes. What was told to the voters is that this would collapse the Mexican drug cartels," she said.

    Leonhart claimed that Mexican drug cartels are "setting up shop" in Washington and Colorado in anticipation of a black market. "Whatever the price will be set in Washington and Colorado, criminal organizations are ready to come in and sell cheaper," Leonhart said. She claimed that many marijuana shops get their supplies from growing operations controlled by cartels.

    The DEA administrator also referred to efforts in the Netherlands to prevent foreign tourists from obtaining marijuana, saying that it showed the country was having second thoughts about its marijuana policies. That change, she said, should have served as a warning to the United States.

    "We should've learned from that and never gone forward with what we've seen in this country," Leonhart said.

    Dan Riffle, director of federal policies for the Marijuana Policy Project, said after the hearing that Leonhart was obstructing the Obama administration's policy and should be forced out.

    "Publicly criticizing and questioning the competence of your supervisor would get anyone fired in the private sector," Riffle said in a statement. "It's frankly astounding to me that Ms. Leonhart is still employed and American taxpayers continue to foot her $165,000 salary to publicly campaign against the president's policies."

    Leonhart declined to take questions from reporters after her testimony.

    By Ryan J Reilly
    Photograph Pin It; Michele Leonhart of the DEA
    April 3 2014
    Huff Post


  1. Joe-(5-HTP)
    It makes them fight harder... against their own people.

    It's their job to enforce the law, not to decide what it is.

    I understand it's hard for them to accept that what they are doing is wrong, that their efforts have been counter-productive, and that their friends & colleagues have given up their lives, sometimes literally, for nothing.

    It's sad, but I don't see that we have the resources to be sympathetic. This is a difficult struggle.
  2. OTCJ
    How anti-democratic of them!

    If the democratic consensus is, "yes, we think this should be legal", and the response from the agencies is "no, you are wrong", despite overwhelming evidence as to the benefits and harm-reducing nature of such legalization, democracy has been subverted.

    This is I think what you get when you have non-elected agencies and officials backed by powerfully wealthy private interests who technically have the authority to dictate and enforce 'legality' based on their own 'morality' and/or self interests, even in the face of the citizens DEMOCRATICALLY deciding that those practices being criminalized are in fact entirely moral and should therefore be legal.

    How rude that they would so casually cast aside the people's democratic will to power. Its hard not be cynical with such a prime example of how little what the people says actually matters these days in the determination and enforcement of law.
  3. TheBigBadWolf
    Joe, I dont think these are law-abiding servants of their country having their job of enforcing law.

    My reason to see it this way is exactly THAT they dare say things like it made them fight even harder.
    If they were, they'd simply shrug and work on. But they dont.

    They are in hold of the truth. No matter what the laws.

    That's what you call radical fundamentalists. Add to this a good portion of american bigotery and you have Suicide Bombers. The kind that's riding a plane into a skyscraper.

    We may not have sympathy resources, but what we should have is keep an eye on these undemocrats.

    Be very afraid!

  4. MikePatton
    The end goal of the DEA is to enforce the will of the people. If the people consider going a different way and the DEA refuses to even consider this, they have, by definition, failed their goal.
  5. Diverboone

    That statement sums it up in a nutshell. The DEA's only job is to enforce the laws provided by the consent of the governed.
  6. D0pe
    Its ok !! Continue to fight the good fight.. The harder you fight the more a demand there will be.. While you are fighting there are Millions of pot heads sitting in front of the Television, Going to work, and taking care of their families not even caring if you fight or if you do not.. People were using marijuana in the masses before it was legalized and used for medicine and people will continue to use no matter what the Dea Does..

    In the end you end up taking tax payers dollars and putting them into services and justice systems that could be better spent elsewhere.. And on the other end of the spectrum you are giving the money to illegal drug trades and the money bleed out to other places where it obviously should go to other Americans and back to the people.

    Thank you DEA for keeping the drug business thriving and alive on the street.. Without you i would not be typing this message.
  7. Alfa
    corporate America VS democracy. the multi-billion drug war industry vs the people.
    the drug war industry is taking some big hits as drug offenders may be released early and less new inmates are being added to the system.
    DEA agents, and particularly the supervisors, and administrators have adopted the mentality that any decriminalisation, or legalisation of cannabis, or any other drug, must inevitably result in budget cuts and reduced staffing levels, thereby affecting them adversely, so they respond by becoming over protective of what they see as "their turf".

    Their police agencies want to increase, or at least maintain what they have already, which goes some way to explaining the massive increase in seizures of private property and money, to fund things like improved police vehicles and other equipment. All such funds should be mandated for drug treatment, education, and health, not at the discretion of publicly funded officials motivated (consciously, or subconsciously) by self interest.

    It's up to their political leaders to issue clear and unmistakeable directions, and to systematically de-fund federal prosecutions of all but the very worst cases.
  9. D0pe
    Yup they system the takes money from drug dealers, drug users, tax payers, prisons , police, and other entities and recycles it back around to go into the wrong pockets in the end..

    So its probably a dull idea but someone needs to figure out a way to get in the middle of these transfers of money.. Then again its probably a seamless machine with no start and no end.. If you take out a part it keeps working and if you add more parts it over works itself.

    Keep fighting guys... I know i figured out a way to get at some of the money that is being transferred from entity to entity. That is essentially what money does, It changes pockets and people hold onto it.. You just have to be the middle man that is all.
  10. CaptainTripps
    I don't know what "drug cartels" have to do with anything. Legalization will not take the money from drug cartels in Washington State, because for practical purposes they have not had any real place in the marijuana market since the 1980's. So to that extent the voters were duped. Who will lose the money is the thousands of small mom and pop grow operations, that make $30k to $50k a year, who supply a small army of small time dealers. These people are not "criminals" in the traditional sense of the word, but rather ordinary citizens who are involved in a relatively harmless activity that just happens to be in violation of a misguided law.

    Washington's marijuana laws have always been pretty lax. Growing or selling marijuana for a first offender is 0 to 6 months in jail, unless large amounts are involved. Marijuana enforcement has not been a major law enforcement priority. Most arrests have been low hanging fruit, people who show no discretion or just plain get unlucky. Large operations tend to stick out and go down quickly, while the small ones are hard to find and little is accomplished in shutting them down. As a result in Washington what you have is a lot of competition and the consumer is usually only a couple of degrees of separation from the producer. With medical marijuana patients being able to grow 15 plants, the situation has led to very low prices for high quality bud. Canadian marijuana that flows into Washington, flows right out at the Oregon border as it can't compete with the local product. While the Mexican cartels bring in huge amounts of black tar and meth, they leave the green down south as it tends to be sub standard by Washington standards.

    If the cartels could not compete before, they sure as hell won't be able to now. Also it should be noted that the prices that marijuana is expected to sell for could easily be cut in half and everyone involved from grower to seller to the tax man could still make a killing. It is the legal risk that accounts for most of the cost in the price of pot.

    Where the state is going to lose is that the illegal market employs a lot of people. These people buy things, support their children and other wise pump money into the economy. With legality you are going to have a few big operations, with a few employees being able to supply the smoking public. This is going to lead to a lot of people losing their livelihoods. Thousands of "jobs" will be lost and I am not sure that tax revenue will make up for this harm to the states economy. I remember when the feds started to crack down on BC bud coming across the boarder, I knew many people who thought that it was a good thing.............cutting down on cheap imports and encouraging people to buy American.

    Legalization in Washington is about regulation, not liberation.
  11. WraithRanma
    We are not a democracy and this is further proof to my claims that we live in an Oligarchy. If this were a democratic nation that White House petition site would have worked to legalize cannabis.
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