No more Leonhart!

I’ve written about acting DEA administrator Michelle Leonhart before. She is the one who cited the growing murder rate near the Mexican border as a sign of a successful drug policy. Oh yes, people dying, let’s have a pat on the back! In addition to that idiotic observation, she has blocked numerous medical marijuana research efforts during her time as a DEA special agent and has led the DEA in resisting medical marijuana laws. The Senate Judiciary Committee is now considering her nomination from Barack Obama to Administrator of the DEA. She’s been acting admin at the DEA since the resignation of the former admin, Karen P. Tandy in 2007. We can’t have an anti-science and anti-medical-marijuana nominee to be confirmed to the DEA administrator’s seat.

The two biggest tasks for the DEA in the near future are going to be: 1. Calming the violence and chaos that has been on the rise due to the Mexican drug war, and 2. helping states implement and enforce medical marijuana laws.

Let’s start with Mexico. We already know that Leonhart has some pretty messed-up ideas about what a successful drug policy looks like, which seems to be lots of guns and lots of dead drug dealers, journalists, ambassadors, cops and bystanders. Now it seems as though the Mexican government would like to see some American military presence south of the border helping fight this impossible-to-win war. Earlier this year Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano told NPR that Mexican president Felipe Calderon has indeed expressed an openness to U.S. Army presence. If that ever happens, all hell will surely break lose.

Now the second task, medical marijuana laws. Leonhart has already struck down a court ruling from DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner that stated researchers should be allowed to grow cannabis for scientific research. Bittner ruled that the current monopoly of the National Institute on Drug Abuse on marijuana research is not in the public intrest (no, really?), but Leonhart dismissed the ruling and made sure the NIDA was in charge of all research. She also was leading the DEA while medical dispensaries in California were being raided, even after the Obama administration’s memo to federal prosecutors urging them to end prosecution of medical marijuana patients and caregivers acting in concordance with state laws.

It is obvious to me that Leonhart is a terrible choice for DEA admin. Here’s what you activists need to do. First, if your senator serves on the Senate Judiciary Committee, call them or write them and urge them to reject Leonhart’s nomination. Second, click here to send a message to the White House and the Senate urging them to block the nomination as well. Personally, I’ll be calling everyone on the committee and I’ll also be visiting my senator’s office to see what can be done about this. Stay informed and tell your friends!

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