NORML Opposes Obama’s Pick Of Bush Holdover To Head DEA


Following Recent Raids, Medical Marijuana Advocacy Groups Call On President Obama To Withdraw Nomination of Michele Leonhart To Be DEA Administrator

Obama’s DEA Head Must Follow Stated Medical Marijuana Policy, End Obstruction of Marijuana Research, and Base Marijuana Rescheduling On Science Rather Than Ideology

A coalition of organizations supporting medical marijuana patients and providers is calling on President Obama to withdraw his nomination of Bush holdover Michele Leonhart to serve as administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Leonhart, currently the DEA’s acting administrator, has not demonstrated that she is capable of leading the agency in a thoughtful manner at a time when 14 states have enacted medical marijuana laws and science is increasingly confirming the therapeutic benefits of the substance, according to NORML.

Graphic: Salem News

‚Äč“It is clearly time for President 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, executive director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), the nation’s oldest marijuana legalization lobby.

“The Obama administration should be working with us to eliminate criminal penalties for the responsible use of marijuana by adults, regardless of whether it is medical use or otherwise,” St. Pierre said.

Under Leonhart’s “leadership,” the DEA has staged medical marijuana raids in apparent disregard of Attorney General Eric Holder’s directive to respect state medical marijuana laws.

Most recently, DEA agents flouted a pioneering Mendocino County, Calif., ordinance to regulate medical marijuana cultivation by raiding the very first grower to register with the sheriff.

Joy Greenfield, 69, had paid more than $1,000 for a permit to cultivate 99 plants in a collective garden that had been inspected and approved by the local sheriff’s department.

Informed that Greenfield had the support of the sheriff, the DEA agent in charge responded by saying, “I don’t care what the sheriff says.”

According to the coalition, the DEA’s conduct is inconsistent with an October 2009 Department of Justice memo directing officials not to arrest individuals “whose actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with existing state laws providing for the medical use of marijuana.

“Ms Leonhart has demonstrated an incapacity to control her agency and to put science above politics when it comes to marijuana,” said California NORML Director Dale Gieringer.

Leonhart has also demonstrated that she is unable to be objective in carrying out the duties of the administrator as it relates to medical marijuana research.

In January 2009, she refused to issue a license to the University of Massachusetts to cultivate marijuana for FDA-approved research by renowned botanist Dr. Lyle Craker, despite a DEA administrative law judge’s ruling that it would be “in the public interest” to issue the license.

This single misguided act has blocked privately-funded medical marijuana research in this country.

The next DEA administrator will likely influence the outcome of a marijuana rescheduling petition currently before the agency. It is critical that an administrator with an open mind toward science and research is at the helm, according to NORML.

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The following organizations are calling on President Obama to withdraw the nomination of Leonhart if she does not end the attacks on individuals acting in compliance with state medical marijuana laws and commit to making decisions related to medical marijuana based on science, not a personal anti-marijuana bias:

California NORML

Drug Policy Alliance (DPA)

Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP)

Marijuana Policy Project (MPP)

Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS)

National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML)

Students for Sensible Drug Policy (SSDP)