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  1. chillinwill
    For those hoping that Barack Obama would wage the war on drugs less aggressively than his predecessor, this is not a good sign: Yesterday he announced that the new head of the Drug Enforcement Administration will be Michele Leonhart, a career DEA agent who has been the agency's deputy administrator since March 2004 and its acting administrator since November 2007.

    That means she oversaw all those gratuitous raids on medical marijuana providers in California, continuing well into the Obama administration despite his promised change of course.

    Last February The Washington Times reported that Obama planned to suspend the DEA's raids once he "nominates someone to take charge of DEA, which is still run by Bush administration holdovers." Leonhart was the most conspicuous and important of those holdovers. The Times quoted a White House spokesman who said, "The president believes that federal resources should not be used to circumvent state laws, and as he continues to appoint senior leadership to fill out the ranks of the federal government, he expects them to review their policies with that in mind." Although that assurance did not, strictly speaking, constitute a promise to change the senior leadership at the DEA, that's the way it sounded. Now what? It certainly seems implausible that the hard-line drug warrior who was all for circumventing state medical marijuana laws when she was only the acting DEA administrator will have a change of heart now that her position is more secure. And as I've noted before, the Justice Department's new policy of leaving medical marijuana growers and distributors alone if they "are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws" leaves a lot of wiggle room for someone like Leonhart.

    That's not to say there is no practical difference between Obama and Bush on drug policy. The combination of Obama and a Democrat-controlled Congress has brought substantial improvement in the area of sentencing reform, and this administration may yet prove more tolerant of medical marijuana. One hopeful sign, in addition to the Justice Department's official policy shift, is that Congress finally let Washington, D.C., implement its medical marijuana law. The Obama administration also seems more willing to let neighboring countries move in a less punitive direction without raising a fuss. Still, articles like this one in the London Independent—headlined "US Waves White Flag in Disastrous 'War on Drugs'"—are a bit premature.

    Addendum: Dale Gieringer of California NORML reminds me that it was Leonhart who overruled a DEA administrative law judge's recommendation that University of Massachusetts at Amherst scientists be allowed to produce marijuana for research, a function currently monopolized by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which is more interested in showing how dangerous marijuana is than in exploring its medical utility. That decision really marks Leonhart as an extremist. "If there's one thing on which supporters and critics of medical marijuana agree," says Gieringer, "it's the need for [FDA-approved] studies."

    Jacob Sullum
    January 26, 2010


  1. Raoul duke420
    Bush Era Medical Marijuana Foe Nominated by Obama to Head DEA

    Bush Era Medical Marijuana Foe Nominated by Obama to Head DEA

    Tim King Salem-News.com Change.org is urging Americans to contact their senators and tell them they don't want to see Michele Leonhart in charge of an agency that fails to recognize state's rights.
    Image courtesy: Change.org​

    (WASHINGTON D.C.) - The big corporations that fear the rapidly expanding popularity of medical marijuana scored a victory last week, when President Obama quietly announced the nomination of Michele Leonhart to lead the Drug Enforcement Agency.
    [​IMG]The DEA's Michele Leonhart

    Over all these years of drug raids on medical dispensaries and patients in the LA area, this Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Division was calling the shots, as commander of the DEA offices and enforcement operations in the Los Angeles area, Nevada, and several other states.
    Leonhart was appointed and promoted by George W. Bush, and under him she oversaw the Bush administration’s tactic of raiding the homes of desperately ill individual medical marijuana patients in California, Change.org reminds us.
    "Ms. Leonhart also has a record of adamantly fighting against allowing scientific research of the potential medicinal value of marijuana. Ignoring the ruling of a federal judge, Ms. Leonhart single-handedly blocked applications from respected university researchers studying medical marijuana."
    Change.org is encouraging Americans to tell their Senator not to confirm Ms. Leonhart.
    "We need a DEA leader who understands the potential value of medical marijuana -- not a Bush-era holdover who thought raiding the homes of cancer patients was a good idea."
    It is the see-saw of the Obama Presidency at work, where the term 'Change' it turns out, is far more figurative that many of us had hoped.
    Our writer Marianne Skolek constantly explores the evil side of dangerous, addictive, deadly and legal drugs. These are the companies who buy four page ad spreads in Time Magazine and run their never ending prescription drug campaigns on TV urging Americans to basically prescribe their own drugs, with the suggestion, "Ask Your Doctor".
    In the past, for those who don't know, this was never allowed. Today it is the lifeblood of the struggling traditional media. It won't last forever.
    So be aware that this nomination is a Bush era crusader and one who has specifically directed, rather than abolish, the drug raids on otherwise legal operations, under California State Medical Marijuana Laws.
    Even more importantly, this individual is solidly behind the ongoing federal position that marijuana is illegal no matter what, even though they feds still manage the federal medical marijuana program from years ago that still has several surviving patients.
    Every time the federal government says it does not recognize the medical marijuana laws that states keep passing, they are in all reality, lying through their teeth, and maintaining a high double standard with regard to drugs that actually hurt, rather than cure people.
    This link takes you to the petition page: Change.org: Ask the Senate to Block Anti-Medical Marijuana DEA Leader
    Special thanks to: Change.org

    Feb 15 2010
    Tim King Salem-News.com

  2. Venusia
    Re: Bush Era Medical Marijuana Foe Nominated by Obama to Head DEA

    Why is it that the more Obama does, the less he's seemingly trying to "change" anything? I honestly hoped that he'd help promote pro-MM laws, but with this news, I don't see it happening. Swivy and I are not amused.
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