Meet the New DEA Administrator…

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 changethe 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.”

discussed the bid to break Uncle Sam’s marijuana monopoly in 2003 and noted the administrative law judge’s favorable ruling in 2007.

[Thanks to LEAP’s Tom Angell for the tip.]

– Article from Reason Magazine.



  1. Anonymous on

    heard that.
    obama’s next move is to send out mass mailings of a document to sign up to purchase the golden gate bridge and collect everyone’s money and split. Amerikans are foolish.

  2. Anonymous on

    what’s the difference between Bush and Obama ?
    If you want to be a hypocrite. It don’t matter if your BLACK or WHITE.

    Keep it comming obama people will remember you for what you really are , a white sheep in a black coat.

  3. Anonymous on

    Yeah, like his speech last night. We all know he’s got good speech writers who will say just what Americans want to hear, but we ain’t falling for it anymore. It’s always the same. Nice speeches that get everyone in the audience standing up and clapping like the trained seals they are then afterwards the country just keeps doing the same stupid shit and nobody’s life gets any better at all. All the while, the politicians are living in their mansions and playing golf.

    We don’t care about your fancy speeches anymore, Obama. Get those soldiers out of shitland and use the billions to make America competitive in the world of today, because right now they are probably about number 100 on the list of most successful countries. Then make bank executive’s bonuses taxable by 90%. Then do something about hospital supplies costing about 5 times as much as anything in the real world costs. Then do something about overpaid doctors and incredibly inefficient hospitals. There’s lots of ares where money could be saved.

    What about the war? Just leave. Does Israel waste a bunch of money going into Afghanistan or Iraq? They are the ones who have the biggest threats against them. If they don’t think doing shit like that would be a wise military move why the hell does America? Just do like them. When someone makes a nuisance of themselves you hit them with a rocket on their way out of the mosque, like that guy who got blown out of his wheelchair. Costs a lot less and has as much or more effect. Sending a bunch of troops somewhere they aren’t even needed only makes your military weaker because most of your resources are tied up over there. What if Mexico attacked America right now? They’d could probably take over the whole damn country. It would take months to get all those troops and equipment back home. They could wipe out every person in Afghanistan and Iraq and it still wouldn’t make a noticeable difference in terrorism. What are they going to do, invade every Muslim country on earth? Even China doesn’t have enough resources to do that. All those trillions spent over there were a complete waste. They might as well have given that money to a Nigerian. That’s how big of suckers America is.

  4. Anonymous on

    Whats the difference between a democrat and a republican? Nothing!!!! I use to defend Obama but not anymore. This did it. Screw him

  5. eeewwwww on

    Religious idiots! What about this religion… SIMULATION, you are in the Matrix of a millenium revolution that will see the herb freed in your lifetime but only at the verge of the apocalypse the Christian goofs are waiting for, hell is on earth, heaven is darkness! But Obama heaven only shows up for him in a mirror, already in heaven now with his dark skin! ha ha, WHO THE F%CK VOTES FOR NIGGERS THAT RHYME WITH OSAMA (bin laden)!??????? The biggest and most dangerous name in the last decade! YOUR ALREADY BRAINWASHED…. the only hope is to relieve some racism out of society for putting Obama in office, but it might get worse after his failures!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Can you even watch the news without saying WTF, bullsh!t!

  6. Big Baby Jesus on

    Haha. I could not be more frustrated with American politricks of late. The Republicans are, without a shadow of a doubt, evil, venal, bible thumping assholes–but they get (all the wrong) things done. The Democrats, are incompetent spineless pussies, but, for the most part, mean well. I feel like that if Obama doesn’t get his shit together and start bitch slapping everyone who gets in his way in Washington, then I am never even going to waste my time voting in another federal election, except for maybe the Libertarians. If I was president, I would make Tommy Chong head of the DEA…. “this weed is shit Curtis, you’re busted for selling schwag man!”

  7. Anonymous on

    because we are the ones being affected by it, and we see all the bullshit they feed us. Where as allow people that live life “according to the law” don’t really give a shit. In general. Of course there are some that do.

  8. Horatio on

    The only people in the world who seem to care at all about minority groups like pot smokers, or even people in general, are those people. It doesn’t matter who gets into what office or what position. I just don’t understand how someone like Obama can just lie to millions and millions of people and just not care.

  9. Anonymous on

    We were also going to be out of Iraq, he wasn’t going to use signing statements to bypass congress, etc. Whatever he says, count on the opposite.

  10. Liars, Cheaters, Thieves on

    There’s no change in the US government other than the way they candy-coat their lies. It’s all the same ballgame to them and will be until an overwhelming majority of Americans start making enough noise about the bullshit they’re slathering on us. American Sheeple are too afraid to do that though. Too scared to have their lives fucked up for standing up for what’s right, for human rights.

    Obama is no change. Never was. Only thing different about him is his skin color and his amazing talent for speaking. He’s masterful and enigmatic, the perfect puppet for the regime that controls all its citizens through propaganda and lies. We think we’re so free and we have control. We don’t. We’re fish in a fucking bucket for them to reach in, grab, and eat for dinner any time they fucking want to. It’s a fucking shame.

  11. Anonymous on

    That DEA bitch in the picture makes my pecker retract WAY inside my abdomen. OUCH!

  12. Anonymous on

    Obama turns out to be the exact opposite of what he pretended to be. When I first heard of the guy and saw him making speeches I thought well okay somebody has decided to take the Christian fundamentalist preacher speaking style and use it in a Presidential election campaign. You know, everything all over dramatic and stuff. He was pretending to be possessed by the holy spirit of democracy. The only thing he didn’t do was break into a dancing fit like Jimmy Swagger. Who would be dumb enough to actually fall for that shit, other than Christians of course. He even admitted to being an active member of a church run by just such a preacher. We could see exactly where he got his campaigning style from, that wacko preacher who said God damn America (admittedly not a bad idea).

    Unfortunately, the only alternative was that bimbo Sarah Palin, technically McCain but how long can that guy stay alive? Soon as he kicked off it would have been President Palin, everyone’s worst nightmare. So the preaching lawyer actually got elected. See how much fun the country is now with Reverend Ike in the oval office? Yup, none. Preaching lawyers just aren’t a fun bunch, or a smart bunch. They get wacky ideas that are completely impractical to actually carry out. It’s like if Alec Baldwin became the President. We need Team America to fix the Obama problem now.

  13. TAS on

    The drug war will never end infact it will get worse. Why, to much greed and corruption in all levels of goverments. With in 6 months the war on weed will grow like a wild fire.Medical weed will not be allowed anymoe with in 9 months.Obama like any other goverment scum will lie and lie.

  14. Anonymous on

    thanks for the change obama.