|Michele Leonhart, deputy administrator of the DEA, is a Bush-era drug warrior who has overseen raids of legal medical marijuana dispensaries — yet Obama wants to keep her on.|
It often seems as if cannabis activists can’t agree on a lot of things. But one thing they all seem to agree upon is that President Obama should rescind the nomination of Bush holdover Michele Leonhart to head the Drug Enforcement Administration.
A number of progressive groups released a letter last month accusing Leonhart, a deputy administrator appointed by President George W. Bush and the acting administrator since Karen P. Tandy’s resignation in 2007, of ignoring a Justice Department directive that raiding dispensaries and growers operating legally in medical marijuana states is a “poor use of resources.”
Only days later, two ideologically diverse advocates echoed the earlier call by condemning a series of raids by the DEA on medical marijuana collectives operating legally under state law. The Tenth Amendment Center, a group that advocates for states’ rights, and Jane Hamsher, publisher of Firedoglake.com, called on the DEA to respect duly adopted state medical marijuana laws and immediately end those raids.
|Jane Hamsher, Firedoglake: “What part of ‘not a priority’ does Michele Leonhart not understand?”|
”Attorney General Eric Holder was crystal clear last year when he directed officials within his department not to waste federal resources interfering with state medical marijuana laws,” Hamsher said. “Yet throughout the tenure of President Obama’s administration, the DEA’s raids have continued in a manner wholly inconsistent with the spirit of that directive.”
“What part of ‘not a priority does Michele Leonhart not understand?” Hamsher asked.
But according to a senior White House official, not even the combined grassroots powers of FireDogLake and the 10th Amendment Center can derail Leonhart’s nomination, reports Mike Riggs at The Daily Caller.
Obama is confident that Leonhart is the right choice to run the DEA, according to the White House staffer, and as of Friday the president wasn’t considering anyone else for the position.
“It’s unfortunate — and downright baffling — that the Obama Administration would choose someone for this post whose resumé is so strongly at odds with the ‘new direction’ this administration has promised for drug policy in general and medical marijuana in particular,” said Mike Meno of the Marijuana Policy Project (MPP).
|Mike Meno, MPP: “It makes no sense”|
”During the election campaign, and again through the Department of Justice memo in October, President Obama vowed to stop the outrageous Bush-era practice of raiding and prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers who operate under state law,” Meno said. “If change is what they seek, why would the administration nominate a Bush holdover under whom the DEA continues to raid the private property of citizens obeying state law?”
“It makes no sense,” Meno said.
Both the White House and the Justice Department told The Daily Caller that Attorney General Eric Holder’s memo does not give dispensaries carte blanche to grow or sell marijuana.
Administration officials also claimed that recent DEA raids “don’t conflict” with what Obama expressed while campaigning.
Yes, if you were waiting for the inevitable time when the language of the DOJ memo “suggesting” that the DEA back off on medical marijuana would be deconstructed and tortured into submission, it appears that day has arrived.
“I wouldn’t say the memo ‘discourages’ certain raids,” a DOJ official said. Rather, “It talks about prioritizing resources most efficiently.”
Both the White House and the DOJ claimed that the gist of the Holder memo was that the DEA would “not focus its limited resources on individual patients with cancer or other serious diseases.”
Make sure you click over to The Daily Caller to read Mike Riggs’ excellent reportage: