Monday, April 26, 2010

Nominee to head DEA an obstacle to state medical marijuana laws

Michele Leonhart has been nominated by President Obama to head the DEA. Since 2003, she has been the number 2 or number 1 at DEA. Since she became Acting Deputy Administrator in 2003, Montana, Vermont, Rhode Island, New Mexico, Michigan and New Jersey passed medical marijuana laws (2004-2010). DEA, under her leadership, resisted all these efforts.

Earlier, beginning in 1997, Leonhart was the head DEA Agent -- the Special Agent in Charge -- in San Francisco and then Los Angeles. She was in charge of DEA as it fought the cities and counties in California as they tried to comply with the 1996 Compassionate Use Act, or instigated reluctant cities and counties to try to frustrate the will of the electorate. And in that time, until she went to Washington as Acting Deputy Administrator, Alaska, Oregon, Washington, Maine, Colorado, Hawaii and Nevada enacted medical marijuana laws (1997-2000).

At what point did she recognize that it was not 1995 any longer? Just how many states would have to pass a medical marijuana law before the DEA leadership would think to ask Congress to review the placement of marijuana in Schedule I so that DEA could work with the States in helping them design and carry out their laws?

Or has Leonhart ever awakened to the fact that tens of millions of Americans are voting for these laws, and thousands of doctors are recommending marijuana for medical purposes?

If she never realized any of this, how can she be qualified to be the Obama Administration's Administrator of DEA? Certainly the Senate Judiciary Committee needs to dig into her record of frustrating state laws on this.

Now that Washington, D.C. is getting a medical marijuana law, the issue is fully engaged in the U.S. Capital. The Washington Post printed my letter to the editor on this subject.

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