Pubdate: Thu, 29 Jul 2010
Source: San Francisco Bay Times (CA)
Contact:  2010 San Francisco Bay Times
Author: Dennis McMillan
Photo: Michele Leonhart has been a nightmare as the head of the DEA.
Related: Stop Michele Leonhart


Michele Leonhart has been a nightmare as the head of the

Following recent raids, medical marijuana advocacy groups have called
on President Barack Obama to withdraw nomination of Michele Leonhart
to be DEA administrator. The following organizations have called 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; Marijuana Policy Project; National Organization for the
Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML); and Students for Sensible Drug
Policy (SSDP).

The coalition claims that Leonhart, who is 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.

"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

Under Leonhart's leadership, the coalition points out that 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
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

Informed that Greenfield had the support of the sheriff, the DEA agent
in charge allegedly responded by saying, "I don't care what the
sheriff says."

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."

Leonhart, opponents say, 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 grow marijuana
for FDA-approved research, despite a DEA administrative law judge's
ruling that it would be "in the public interest" to issue the license.
This single 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, the coalition emphasizes, that an
administrator with an open mind toward science and research is at the
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