Drug Policy

The Perfect Choice to Oversee an 'Utter Failure'

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Change.org is asking critics of the war on drugs to urge their senators to oppose the nomination of Bush holdover Michele Leonhart as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration. As special agent in charge at the DEA's Los Angeles office until 2004 and as acting administrator since 2007, Leonhart has enthusiastically overseen raids on medical marijuana patients and providers in California, without regard to whether they were following state law. She therefore embodies the Bush administration's policy of trying to override state medical marijuana laws, a policy that President Obama claims to have renounced. Leonhart also was the official who rejected an administrative law judge's recommendation that the DEA license a private source of marijuana for medical research. These two positions mark her as a dogmatic drug warrior whose selection signals that Obama, who as a senatorial candidate called the war on drugs "an utter failure" and supported marijuana decriminalization, does not plan significant changes in this area. Perhaps that's the signal he wants to send. But even prohibitionists should be appalled by Leonhart's casual attitude toward perjury.

More on Leonhart's nomination here and here.