Democratic Senator Threatens To Block DEA Nominee Leonhart


Photo: Politics of Pot
Michelle Leonhart’s nomination has hit a snag, and it’s not about marijuana, it’s about access to painkillers for nursing home patients

​A Democratic Senator is threatening to block the Obama Administration’s pick to head the Drug Enforcement Administration due to a dispute over restrictions on how nursing homes dispense prescription drugs to patients.

The DEA has stepped up a crackdown on facilities allowing nurses or other nursing home staff to dispense powerful prescription drugs without a doctor’s authorization, reports Evan Perez at The Wall Street Journal.
The nursing home crackdown is supposedly part of a wider DEA effort to “prevent abuse” of prescription painkillers, which are often diverted to the black market for large profits.
Nursing home facilities aren’t staffed with enough doctors to be on hand to prescribe drugs every time they’re needed, according to industry groups. And nursing homes don’t seem inclined to change their “business models,” since keeping more doctors on staff would reduce profits.

Photo: Patent Docs
Sen. Herb Kohl: “Every day nursing home patients continue to suffer from agonizing pain”

​Sen. Herb Kohl (D-Wisconsin) said on Wednesday that he plans to block the nomination of Michelle Leonhart to head the DEA “until we have made more progress towards our goal of ensuring that nursing home residents get timely access to the prescription drug care they need.”
The Justice Department, DEA’s parent agency, has said it wants to wait for all 50 states to put new regulations in place regarding nursing homes and prescriptions, according to Sen. Kohl.
Such a delay is “unacceptable,” Kohl said.
“Every day nursing home patients continue to suffer from agonizing pain and we need an interim solution as soon as possible,” Kohl said.
The DEA had no comment, referring the question to the White House, which said it is “looking into the matter.”
Marijuana activists have vocally opposed Leonhart’s nomination, since during her tenure at DEA she presided over hundreds of paramilitary raids on medical marijuana patients and providers in states where medical marijuana is legal.