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Leonhart Confirmed by Senate as DEA Administrator

By talltom, Nov 13, 2010 | | |
Rating:
4/5,
  1. talltom
    Leonhart Likely to Become Permanent Head of DEA

    Senate Likely to Approve Obama’s Pot-Hating, Insubordinate DEA Head Next Week

    The National Journal reports that the Senate Judiciary Committee will move the nomination on Michele Leonhart for DEA administrator next week after a seven-month delay. Leonhart, a drug warrior to the core, has served as the temporary head of DEA since she was promoted to that position by George W. Bush in 2007.

    In her time at the DEA, Leonhart has organized the campaign against medical marijuana, and ignored the clear directive from Attorney General Eric Holder to stop raiding dispensaries. Despite this flagrant insubordination, President Obama saw fit to nominate Leonhart to serve as the official DEA head earlier this year.

    Groups advocating for medicinal marijuana have waged a spirited campaign to derail Leonhart’s confirmation. In a July letter to President Obama, several pro-marijuana groups and liberal organizations, such as FireDogLake and the 10th Amendment Center, accused Leonhart, a Bush administration holdover who is serving as DEA’s acting administrator, of ignoring an October 2009 Justice Department directive urging federal authorities not to waste government time and resources “on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws.”

    President Obama offered a similar view while campaigning in 2008.

    Though the number of DEA raids on medicinal marijuana growers has dropped, the agency has carried out dozens since the directive was issued. The National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws and other groups accuse Leonhart of continuing a policy she helped oversee while a top DEA deputy under Bush.

    And now, it looks like Leonhart will move through the Senate next week, with few signs that anyone in the Senate will actually fight her nomination, let alone stop it.

    What the groups have not been able to do, however, is get the attention of the White House or the Senate.

    “The federal government ignoring the concerns of people in the marijuana-reform community is nothing new,” said Mike Meno, a spokesman for the Washington-based Marijuana Policy Project.

    Public-opinion polls show growing support for marijuana legalization, and a small medicinal-marijuana industry is taking leaf in California. But Leonhart’s likely confirmation, and the defeat of a California’s Proposition 19, a ballot measure that would have weakened anti-marijuana California’s laws, show that the political clout of legalization advocates remains well short of their numbers, particularly when it comes to the Senate.

    California’s liberal Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., for example, opposed Proposition 19 during her successful reelection bid.

    Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., this fall said he did not yet have a position on Leonhart; other committee members, including Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., said the same. Committee aides said that criticism of her over marijuana policy had not registered much with staffers, let alone members.

    Let’s be clear here: the public overwhelmingly supports medical marijuana, and the President and Attorney General of the United States have said the federal government should not waste resources targeting medical marijuana dispensaries. Leonhart doesn’t give a shit, and continues to harass medical marijuana dispensaries anyway, and neither Obama nor Holder see the clear hypocrisy of giving Leonhart a promotion under these circumstances.

    Now the same Senate that unanimously voted to increase penalties for pot brownies will likely let Leonhart coast through the chamber in a lame-duck session next week. Chairman Patrick Leahy said he doesn’t have an opinion on Leonhart, and we all know what Dianne “Reefer Madness” Feinstein must think. There really isn’t a play to stop her nomination, unless anyone has some embarassing photographs that should turn up in the next week.

    Leonhart’s nomination by Obama – and her inevitable approval by the Senate – is yet another sign that the public is far ahead of politicians on marijuana and the need to end the War on Drugs. Letting voters choose to legalize marijuana is the only way to end the war on marijuana.

    Michael Whitney

    Alternet News
    November 12, 2001

Comments

  1. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Leonhart Likely to Become Permanent Head of DEA

    the hearing will be tomorrow- sometime after 2:30pm EST. It can be watched live online: http://anonym.to/?http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/hearing.cfm?id=4851

    A quote from MAPS:
    Also of particular interest to the medical marijuana scene in California as she was head of the Los Angeles DEA from 1998-2003 and responsible for many of the raids against medical marijuana growers, dispensaries, and patients. Possibly even more alarming- much of that tenure coincided with that of anti medical marijuana LA Attorney General Steve Cooley (2000-2010) who is still locked in a tight race for California Attorney general (close to 1 million ballots still to be counted/certified). They surely must have cooperated in the raids of medical marijuana.

    Leonhart as head of the DEA and Cooley as CA attorney general could prove a crushing blow for medical marijuana.
  2. talltom
    Re: Leonhart Likely to Become Permanent Head of DEA

    Obama's Pick for Top Drug War Enforcer Needs to Answer Some Tough Questions

    This Wednesday, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee will be considering Michele Leonhart for the position of director of the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Several organizations that lobby on drug policy issues have voiced serious concerns regarding Ms. Leonhart’s nomination.

    As Interim DEA director, Ms. Leonhart has overseen dozens of federal raids on medical marijuana providers, producers, and laboratory facilities that engage in the testing of cannabis potency and quality. These actions took place in states that have enacted laws allowing for the production and distribution of marijuana for medical purposes, and they 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.”

    It is now 14 years since California voters recognized the medical value of marijuana by amending state law; fifteen other states and the District of Columbia have since acted likewise. Yet under Ms. Leonhart’s leadership the DEA has failed to take a single step toward revising its practices in accordance with these changes to state law and administrative policy.

    Furthermore, Ms. Leonhart has actively blocked scientific research that seeks to better identify and quantify marijuana’s medicinal properties and efficacy. These actions contradict this administration's pledge to let science rather than ideology guide public policy.

    In particular, Ms. Leonhart has neglected to reply to an eight-year-old petition that calls 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. This single act has prohibited any privately funded medical marijuana research from taking place in the United States.

    Finally, Ms. Leonhart has exhibited questionable judgment when speaking to 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.

    “Our view is that the violence we have been seeing is a signpost of the success our very courageous Mexican counterparts are having,” Leonhart said. The cartels are acting out like caged animals, because they are caged animals.” This view is out of step with the reality and the gravity of the growing problem on our southern border.

    In short, Ms. Leonhart’s actions and ambitions are incompatible with state law, 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.

    By Paul Armentano
    The Hill

    Posted on November 15, 2010

    Paul Armentano is the deputy director of NORML (the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws), and is the co-author of the book Marijuana Is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink (2009, Chelsea Green).

    © 2010 The Hill All rights reserved.
  3. Terrapinzflyer
    Re: Leonhart Likely to Become Permanent Head of DEA

    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=17938&stc=1&d=1290105238[/imgl]Michele Leonhart one step closer to officially heading up the DEA

    Acting director Michele Leonhart is that much closer to officially heading up the Drug Enforcement Agency after successfully navigating a hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

    If confirmed to the position she’s already held for three years, Leonhart said she would expand the DEA’s anti-cartel operations in Mexico and continue to enforce federal drug laws in states where medical marijuana is legal. Under light pressure from committee Democrats, Leonhart also restated her promise to reform prescription drug laws that have made it nearly impossible for nursing homes to administer pain medications to their residents.

    Democratic Senator Herb Kohl of Wisconsin calmly lit into Leonhart, an alumna of the Bush administration, for regulations adopted during her tenure that prohibit nursing home employees from dispensing prescription pain medication to chronic pain sufferers in their care.

    Due to a change in policy under Leonhart, said Kohl, “nursing homes [are] unable to administer pain medication to residents in a timely manner. The time that it takes for a nursing home to comply with the DEA’s new enforcement policy can be an eternity to an elderly patient who is in agonizing pain.”

    According to Kohl, a deputy administer of the DEA told him during an October 2009 hearing that the DEA “would act quickly to solve this problem.” Kohl then met with Leonhart in early May of 2010 to discuss the regulations.

    “You told me you also would address the problem swiftly,” Kohl said to Leonhart during the hearing. “In August, I requested joint comments from DEA and DHHS on draft legislation that I prepared and submitted to you to facilitate more timely access to pain medication for ailing nursing home residents. I received no response.”

    “It appears the DEA is putting paperwork before pain relief,” Kohl added.

    The regulations in question prohibit nursing home nurses from administering pain medications to their residents, even those with a doctor’s prescriptions. Leonhart, who has been acting director of the DEA since 2007, said that her agency is slowly working towards a solution. “We don’t take lightly our responsibility to not only prevent aversion and do our regulatory business, but we’re very concerned about those patients in need. That’s why in the interim, while we’re finding long-term solutions, we’ve come up with a few short-term solutions and policy statements. We need to do more.”

    Kohl responded rather curtly to Leonhart’s explanation: “I would like to see much more progress made on this issue before you are confirmed,” he said. Kohl’s statement was the first sign that Senate Democrats may not rubber-stamp President Obama’s nominee.

    Perhaps due to the failure of Prop 19 in California (and despite the passage of medical marijuana in Arizona), Kohl, along with Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Al Franken of Minnesota, made no mention of medical marijuana. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, however, made it his prime focus.

    “I’m a big fan of the DEA,” said Sessions, before asking Leonhart point blank if she would fight medical marijuana legalization.

    “I have seen what marijuana use has done to young people, I have seen the abuse, I have seen what it’s done to families. It’s bad,” Leonhart said. “If confirmed as administrator, we would continue to enforce the federal drug laws.”

    “These legalization efforts sound good to people,” Sessions quipped. “They say, ‘We could just end the problem of drugs if we could just make it legal.’ But any country that’s tried that, Alaska and other places have tried it, have failed. It does not work,” Sessions said.

    “We need people who are willing to say that. Are you willing to say that?” Sessions asked Leonhart.

    “Yes, I’ve said that, senator. You’re absolutely correct [about] the social costs from drug abuse, especially from marijuana,” Leonhart said. “Legalizers say it will help the Mexican cartel situation; it won’t. It will allow states to balance budgets; it won’t. No one is looking [at] the social costs of legalizing drugs.”

    While Sessions and Leonhart agreed on the precedent failures of drug legalization policies in places such as Alaska, drug policy analysts do not.

    “None of the nightmare scenarios touted by preenactment decriminalization opponents — from rampant increases in drug usage among the young to the transformation of Lisbon into a haven for ‘drug tourists’ — has occurred,” read a 2009 white paper that the Cato Institute released eight years after Portugal decriminalized illegal drugs.

    “Although postdecriminalization usage rates have remained roughly the same or even decreased slightly when compared with other EU states, drug-related pathologies — such as sexually transmitted diseases and deaths due to drug usage — have decreased dramatically,” the study found. “Drug policy experts attribute those positive trends to the enhanced ability of the Portuguese government to offer treatment programs to its citizens — enhancements made possible, for numerous reasons, by decriminalization.”

    Cato and legalization advocates also argued in the lead-up to a vote on Prop 19 that legalizing, regulating, and taxing marijuana would make a small dent in California’s massive deficit, and perhaps more importantly, drastically reduce law enforcement spending on marijuana enforcement.

    “What worries me is that we have seen–after years of stabilization of drug use–a spike,” Leonhart said. “I believe that spike is directly related to all the conversation we are now hearing about the legalization of drugs.”

    Sessions, a former U.S. Attorney, praised the “grassroots” anti-drug policies developed under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. “Drug use did go down,” Sessions said. “In 1980, half the high school seniors admitted to using an illegal drug. The numbers went well below 25 a decade later.” Sessions also said that he “hope this administration will send a very clear message on this,” and echoed Leonhart’s argument that legalization efforts — which Sessions called ”being all nice” — were not a valid response to Mexico’s cartel violence.

    “The best way we can help the Mexican leadership…is to demolish the gangs in our country who are selling drugs, collecting the money, and taking it back to fund these entities of power and strength,” Sessions said. “Have you given any thought to focusing on the Mexican drug cartels that are the primary distribution network for cocaine in America?”

    Leonhart nodded. “A lot of the focus for DEA these days is on Mexico. And now that we have these courageous Mexican partners with President [Felipe] Calderon at the head, we have had great successes in Mexico at breaking the power and impunity of these cartels. But we can do more, and if confirmed, we will continue our partnership and expand, because we are sharing so much more intelligence [with Mexico] and with state and local law enforcement.”




    By Mike Riggs - The Daily Caller
    Published: 3:42 AM 11/18/2010

    http://dailycaller.com/2010/11/18/m...ep-closer-to-officially-heading-up-the-dea/2/
  4. Balzafire
    Re: Leonhart Likely to Become Permanent Head of DEA

    [h1]Obama’s DEA Nominee Pledges To Ignore Administration’s Medical Marijuana Policy[/h1]
    [imgl=white]https://www.drugs-forum.com/forum/attachment.php?attachmentid=17947&stc=1&d=1290134491[/imgl]It was a little over a year ago when the United States Department of Justice announced that it would back away from pursuing cases against medical marijuana patients and providers who are acting in accordance with state and local laws.

    “As a general matter, pursuit of [federal law enforcement] priorities should not focus federal resources … on individuals whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana,” The DOJ announced on October 19, 2009. “For example, prosecution of individuals with cancer or other serious illnesses who use marijuana as part of a recommended treatment regimen consistent with applicable state law, or those caregivers in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state law who provide such individuals with marijuana, is unlikely to be an efficient use of limited federal resources.”

    Apparently Michelle Leonhart, President Obama’s nominee to direct the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, didn’t get the memo.

    Speaking yesterday before the Senate Judiciary Committee, on day one of her Senate confirmation process, Leonhart pledged to ignore the administration’s formal medical marijuana guidelines.

    Michele Leonhart one step closer to officially heading up the DEA
    via The Daily Caller

    [excerpt] Acting director Michele Leonhart is that much closer to officially heading up the Drug Enforcement Agency after successfully navigating a hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee on Wednesday.

    If confirmed to the position she’s already held for three years, Leonhart said she would expand the DEA’s anti-cartel operations in Mexico and continue to enforce federal drug laws in states where medical marijuana is legal.

    … Perhaps due to the failure of Prop 19 in California (and despite the passage of medical marijuana in Arizona), Kohl, along with Democratic Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island and Al Franken of Minnesota, made no mention of medical marijuana. Republican Sen. Jeff Sessions of Alabama, however, made it his prime focus.

    “I’m a big fan of the DEA,” said Sessions, before asking Leonhart point blank if she would fight medical marijuana legalization.

    “I have seen what marijuana use has done to young people, I have seen the abuse, I have seen what it’s done to families. It’s bad,” Leonhart said. “If confirmed as administrator, we would continue to enforce the federal drug laws.”

    “These legalization efforts sound good to people,” Sessions quipped. “They say, ‘We could just end the problem of drugs if we could just make it legal.’ But any country that’s tried that, Alaska and other places have tried it, have failed. It does not work,” Sessions said.

    “We need people who are willing to say that. Are you willing to say that?” Sessions asked Leonhart.

    “Yes, I’ve said that, senator. You’re absolutely correct [about] the social costs from drug abuse, especially from marijuana,” Leonhart said. “Legalizers say it will help the Mexican cartel situation; it won’t. It will allow states to balance budgets; it won’t. No one is looking [at] the social costs of legalizing drugs.”

    It is shocking to learn that not a single Senator who attended the hearing, in particular Democrat Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island, had the courage to demand that Ms. Leonhart respect the laws of the 15 states that have legalized the use of marijuana as a medicine. In the case of Sen. Whitehouse, his own state is now in the process of licensing state-certified marijuana providers and distributors; yet he appears to have no problem with the idea of appointing a federal official who declares her intention to put his own constituents in federal prison.

    It gets even more disturbing. In the days leading up to Wednesday’s initial confirmation hearing, a coalition of advocacy groups — including NORML, Americans for Safe Access, and others called on members of the Senate Judiciary to ask Ms. Leonhart tough questions regarding her public record, one that is incompatible with state laws, public opinion, and with the policies of this administration. Yet not a single Senator did so.

    There is a growing divide between state and federal law concerning the use of marijuana for medical purposes, and it would only take members of the Senate — or Ms. Leonhart for that matter — a cursory scan of today’s google headlines to see it:

    Prop 203 Passes: Medical Marijuana to Be Legal in Arizona
    via CBS News

    New Mexico approves six new medical marijuana producers
    via The New Mexico Independent

    Maine couple cleared to open marijuana clinic
    via The Associated Press

    DC revises medical marijuana regulations
    via Comcast

    As we’ve written before, as Interim DEA director, Ms. Leonhart has overseen dozens of federal raids on medical marijuana providers, producers, and laboratory facilities that engage in the testing of cannabis potency and quality. Yesterday Ms. Leonhart pledged to continue these actions — actions that violate this administration’s own written policies, and more importantly, actions that target the civilians of fifteen states and the District of Columbia. These people are the constituents of 30 percent of the U.S. Senate; yet not even one of these elected officials appears willing to speak up for them. That is disgraceful.

    Want to write or call your Senator about Ms. Leonhart’s nomination process? You can still do so here and here (link to US Senate.

    by Paul Armentano
    November 18, 2010
    http://blogs.alternet.org/speakeasy...re-administration’s-medical-marijuana-policy/
  5. talltom
    Re: Leonhart Likely to Become Permanent Head of DEA

    Senate Throws Softball Questions in DEA Chief Confirmation Hearings at Drug Warrior Michele Leonhart

    Michele Leonhart's nomination to be Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) administrator appeared to be on track for an easy confirmation after a Wednesday hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

    The nomination is opposed by the drug reform, medical marijuana, and hemp movements, but insiders say it is all but a done deal. While reformers had hoped one or more senators would ask Leonhart "tough questions" about her tenure as acting DEA administrator, that didn't happen. Sens. Herb Kohl (D-WI) and Patrick Leahy (D-VT) pressed Leonhart about easing access to pain medications for senior citizens in nursing homes, but that was about the extent of the prodding.

    [Editor's Note: Some of the interviews below were conducted before Wednesday's hearing.]

    Legalizers are singing a seductive siren song, Leonhart warned. "The danger of these legalization efforts, they say we could just end the problem of drugs if we just make it legal," she explained. "But any country that has tried that -- the Netherlands, Alaska -- it has not worked, it is failed public policy."

    Leonhart was nominated by President Bush to be administrator at DEA after replacing Karen Tandy in 2007 and has been acting administrator ever since. The Obama administration renominated her as administrator in February, but the nomination languished as the committee dealt with other business, most notably addressing a backlog of judicial nominations and preparing for confirmation hearings for the nomination of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court.

    Medical marijuana and drug reform advocacy groups have opposed Leonhart's nomination on a variety of grounds. As Special Agent in Charge of the DEA's Los Angeles office from 1998 to 2004 and DEA deputy administrator from 2003 to 2007, she presided over hundreds of raids on medical marijuana patients and providers. As acting administrator, she ran DEA while California medical marijuana raids continued unabated until the October 2009 Justice Department memorandum to quit persecuting patients and providers "whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws."

    Even since then, while DEA medical marijuana raids have diminished, they have not stopped. According to the medical marijuana support group Americans for Safe Access (ASA), since the memo went out, the DEA under Leonhart has engaged in more than 30 raids of medical marijuana providers in states where it is legal.

    "As the deputy director, Ms. Leonhart supervised an unprecedented level of paramilitary-style enforcement raids designed to undermine safe access and the implementation of state medical marijuana programs," ASA said in an alert to its members.

    Leonhart is also drawing fire from advocates for overturning a DEA administrative law judge's decision to issue a license to UMass-Amherst Professor Lyle Craker to grow marijuana for FDA-approved research. That decision left intact the federal government's monopoly on the cultivation of marijuana for research purposes. It is grown only at the University of Mississippi.

    And she is being opposed as well for her DEA's recalcitrance when it comes to industrial hemp. In a July letter to the committee, the industry group Vote Hemp said it opposed Leonhart's nomination because under her tenure DEA continues to block hemp production in the US, has failed for more than three years to respond to several applications from North Dakota-licensed farmers to grow hemp, and continues to maintain the fiction that hemp is marijuana.

    "Michele Leonhart, the nominee for administrator and a lifetime DEA bureaucrat, severely lacks the vision to change policy on hemp farming for the better," the group said. "Vote Hemp strongly opposes the nomination of Michele Leonhart to be Administrator of the DEA."

    There is another reason to question her suitability to run DEA -- her dealings with and defense of one-time DEA "supersnitch" Andrew Chambers. Chambers earned an astounding $2.2 million for his work as a DEA informant between 1984 and 2000. The problem was that he was caught perjuring himself repeatedly. The US 9th Circuit Court of Appeals called him a liar in 1993, and the 8th Circuit Court of Appeals echoed that verdict two years later.

    But instead of terminating its relationship with Chambers, the DEA protected him, failing to notify prosecutors and defense attorneys about his record. At one point, DEA and the Justice Department for 17 months stalled a public defender seeking to examine the results of DEA's background check on Chambers. Even after the agency knew its snitch was rotten, it refused to stop using Chambers, and it took the intervention of then Attorney General Janet Reno to force the agency to quit using him.

    Michele Leonhart defended Chambers. When asked if, given his credibility problems, the agency should quit using him, she said, "That would be a sad day for DEA, and a sad day for anybody in the law enforcement world... He's one in a million. In my career, I'll probably never come across another Andrew."

    Another Leonhart statement on Chambers is even more shocking, as much for what it says about Leonhart as for what Leonhart says about Chambers. "The only criticism (of Chambers) I've ever heard is what defense attorneys will characterize as perjury or a lie on the stand," she said, adding that once prosecutors check him out, they will agree with his DEA admirers that he is "an outstanding testifier."

    And then there's her connection to the "House of Death" scandal. The "House of Death" in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, was a house used by the Juárez drug cartel to murder people. Dozens of bodies were eventually recovered when the police raided it. The case revolves around a US Immigration and Customs (ICE) and DEA informant in Mexico, code-named "Lalo," who witnessed (and perhaps took part in) a murder in the House of Death during August 2003. In a lawsuit, whistleblower and former DEA Special Agent Sanalio Gonzalez charges that Leonhart and other officials fired him for speaking out about the murders and then helped cover the scandal up.

    A number of reform groups have organized Internet and phone call-in campaigns in a bid to derail the nomination. Students for Sensible Drug Policy, NORML, California NORML, and Firedoglake have all sounded the alarm. So has the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).

    "We are asking our supporters and followers to contact their representatives if they are serving on the committee and tell them to ask her some tough questions about her previous actions," said MPP communications director Mike Meno. "She presided over hundreds of DEA raids on legal medical marijuana providers during Bush admin, and played a crucial role in rejecting applications to do FDA-level research on marijuana."

    ASA provided a list of questions for the committee to ask Leonhart, including how raiding medical marijuana providers was an efficient use of DEA resources, how the DEA might work with medical marijuana states, why the DEA didn't just hand over cases of "clear and unambiguous" violations of state medical marijuana laws to state authorities, and when the DEA might get around to deciding the status of a 2002 petition to reschedule marijuana.

    "I was hoping that this nomination was going to die a slow death but it appears as if they are going forward with it," said Tom Murphy, outreach coordinator for Vote Hemp. "We sent a letter in opposition, as I know a number of other organizations have. We've also got a pair of action alerts up on our web site. We've been working it against this since June, and we have a long list of reasons to oppose her nomination."

    But it doesn’t appear that the senators on the Judiciary Committee are paying much heed to the stop Leonhart campaign. Despite the protests, her nomination is likely to sale through the committee tomorrow and be quickly approved by the Senate.

    "Unfortunately, I don't think there's any chance of stopping her nomination," said Murphy. "She was nominated by Bush, and the committee sat on it, and renominated by Obama and they sat it on. Now we're a lame duck session, and they’re moving it. That tells me they have the votes to get it through and it's a done deal."

    "The prospects aren't good. Every office we've talked to has said they weren't going to go against an Obama nominee," said Bill Piper, national affairs director for the Drug Policy Alliance, which also opposed the nomination. "But if we can get some senators to put pressure on her publicly or privately, maybe she will quit being such as obstacle when it comes to things like Amherst and the raids. We're taking sort of a harm reduction approach, like when Asa Hutchinson was grilled during his hearing and came out in support of reducing the crack/powder cocaine sentencing disparity."

    Getting Michele Leonhart to back off a little on the medical marijuana raids would be a welcome consolation, but don't hold your breath. Progressive drug policy stances are not the traditional province of the DEA, and it looks like nothing is going to change there for the foreseeable future.

    Phillip S. Smith,

    Drug War Chronicle
    November 19, 2010

    Read more of Phillip S. Smith's work at the Drug War Chronicle.

    © 2010 Drug War Chronicle All rights reserved.
  6. talltom
    Leonhart Confirmed by Senate as DEA Administrator

    She is the first female DEA Special Agent to rise through the ranks of the agency to become its Administrator, and only the second woman to lead the agency.

    On Dec. 22, 2010, the United States Senate unanimously voted to confirm Michele M. Leonhart as the 10th Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration. She is the first female DEA Special Agent to rise through the ranks of the agency to become its Administrator, and only the second woman to lead the agency. In fact, she is the first career female federal agent to ever lead a federal law enforcement agency.

    Upon confirmation, Administrator Leonhart said:

    “I am extremely humbled and honored to have the opportunity to continue to lead the world’s premier drug law enforcement organization. DEA is an incredible organization comprised of the most talented men and women in law enforcement. I am dedicated to meeting the challenges that DEA faces, from disrupting and dismantling extremely violent Mexican based drug cartels; to defeating narco-terrorists operating in Afghanistan and around the world; and doing all we can to reduce prescription drug abuse, our nation’s fastest growing drug threat. I will devote all of my energy and experience to guide DEA as we enforce the nation’s drug laws and take the lead in the global fight against drug trafficking.”

    “I applaud the unanimous confirmation of Michele Leonhart, and agree with the strong bipartisan consensus validating her proven qualifications and effectiveness to lead the Drug Enforcement Administration,” said Gil Kerlikowske, Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.

    “Administrator Leonhart’s extensive law enforcement background, coupled with her understanding of the importance of our efforts to reduce the demand for drugs in the United States, has been and will continue to be invaluable assets in DEA’s work to protect public safety.”

    "Women in Federal Law Enforcement (WIFLE) applauds the confirmation of Michele Leonhart as the next Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration,” said WIFLE President, Margaret Moore. “We are confident that the newly confirmed Administrator will uphold the finest traditions of DEA and provide the constant guidance and leadership for this outstanding law enforcement agency."

    Administrator Leonhart has more than 30 years of law enforcement experience. After serving with the Baltimore Police Department, she joined DEA in 1980 with her first DEA duty station being Minneapolis, Minnesota.

    As Administrator Leonhart rose through the ranks, she held a variety of DEA operational and administrative posts around the country including St. Louis, Missouri; San Diego, California; Los Angeles, California, and Washington D.C. Her duties included assignments as a Group Supervisor, Staff Coordinator, Special Agent Recruiter, Inspector in the Office of Professional Responsibility, and Assistant Special Agent-in-Charge in Los Angeles. She became the first woman to lead a DEA field division as a Special Agent-in-Charge when she directed the DEA’s San Francisco Field Division in 1997, and later commanded DEA’s Los Angeles Field Division.

    Administrator Leonhart served as Acting Deputy Administrator of DEA in 2003, and was unanimously confirmed by the United States Senate for that position on March 8, 2004. She has been DEA’s Acting Administrator since November, 2007. She was nominated to be the DEA Administrator by President Obama on February 2, 2010.

    Administrator Leonhart was raised in Minnesota and received her B.S. degree in Criminal Justice from Bemidji State University. She is married and has two son

    Washington, DC

    December 24th, 2010

    http://fosterfollynews.com/news/201...nfirmedbySenateasDEAAdministrator.php?print=1
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