Marijuana

DEA Head Criticizes Obama for Telling the Truth About Marijuana

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C-SPAN

During a speech to a conference of sheriffs in Washington, D.C., last week, Michele Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), reportedly criticized President Obama for saying marijuana is safer than alcohol. Bristol County, Massachusetts, Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson gave this account to the Boston Herald:

She's frustrated for the same reasons we are. She said she felt the administration didn't understand the science enough to make those statements. She was particularly frustrated with the fact that, according to her, the White House participated in a softball game with a pro-legalization group….But she said her lowest point in 33 years in the DEA was when she learned they'd flown a hemp flag over the Capitol on July 4. The sheriffs were all shocked. This is the first time in 28 years I've ever heard anyone in her position be this candid.

Kern County, California, Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the Major Counties Sheriffs' Association, the group Leonhart addressed, confirmed that she "called out Obama for what Youngblood described as 'irresponsible' comments that were a 'big slap in the face' to cops who have lost their lives keeping drugs off the street." He said she received a standing ovation.

For Leonhart to describe Obama's statement as unscientific is pretty rich. Like all of her predecessors, Leonhart has steadfastly refused to reclassify marijuana, which for no rational reason remains on Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, a category supposedly reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse that have no accepted medical applications and cannot be used safely, even under medical supervision. In response to questions from Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) in 2012, Leonhart famously declined to say whether marijuana was more or less dangerous than crack, heroin, or methamphetamine (which is actually less restricted), repeating the mantra that "all illegal drugs are bad." Mmmkay?

Leonhart's objection to the hemp flag reflects the DEA's unyielding opposition not only to marijuana itself but to anything associated with it. Although many countries manage to ban marijuana while allowing production of industrial hemp, which is not psychoactive, the DEA has always insisted those two policies cannot coexist, which is why the hemp for that flag had to be imported. The DEA's fear and loathing of anything it associates with cannabis culture explains its bizarre, lawless attempt to ban all edible hemp products (such as the hemp seeds and hemp oil you can buy at Costco). That anti-hemp crusade was ultimately blocked by a federal appeals court, which said it had no statutory basis, since the Controlled Substances Act specifically excludes hemp seeds from its definition of marijuana.

You can call Leonhart's revulsion at the thought of a hemp flag flying over the Capitol many things. But "scientific" is not one of them. Likewise, her refusal to concede that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana has no scientific basis. Tellingly, Sheriff Youngblood calls Obama's statement about the two drugs' relative hazards "irresponsible" and offensive to drug warriors. He does not call it inaccurate.

Leonhart, of course, was Obama's pick to head the DEA, and he surely knew what he was getting, since she had been running the agency as acting administrator since November 2007 and had served as its deputy administrator before that. As acting administrator, she 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 monopoly, unique to marijuana, is even harder to defend than the drug's Schedule I status—which, by the way, Obama has the power to change without new legislation. It is fitting that Obama, having opted to stay the course in the war on drugs despite pre-election statements promising something else, has to endure sniping from the hardline prohibitionists he appointed now that has managed to utter an inconvenient truth.

Addendum: The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is urging Obama to fire Leonhart. Dan Riffle, MPP's director of Federal Policies, says:

Whether Ms. Leonhart is ignorant of the facts or intentionally disregarding them, she is clearly unfit for her current position. By any objective measure, marijuana is less harmful than alcohol to the consumer and society. It is irresponsible and unacceptable for a government official charged with enforcing our drug laws to deny the facts surrounding the nation's two most popular recreational drugs. 

The DEA administrator's continued refusal to recognize marijuana's relative safety compared to alcohol and other drugs flies in the face of the president's commitment to prioritizing science over ideology and politics. She is neglecting the basic obligations of her job and fundamentally undermining her employer's mission. This would be grounds for termination in the private sector, and the consequences for Ms. Leonhart should be no different.

I don't know about that. It seems to me Leonhart's refusal to discuss the relative hazards of different intoxicants and her outrage at symbols of dissent makes her well-suited to lead the war on drugs, an emotion-driven crusade that has always been at odds with the truth.

Addendum II: Rep. Polis observes that "many of the Founding Fathers, including George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, grew hemp, and some of the first American flags were made of hemp." He wonders, "Is Michele Leonhart embarrassed by Betsy Ross, Thomas Jefferson, and George Washington?"

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  1. Hey DEA bitch, how you get bags like that on your face? Too much coke?

    1. The comments, they burn

      1. Yahoo News commenters aren’t necessarily the sharpest edged weapons in the armory.

        1. They’re only slightly above Politico posters, and that’s the bottom of the pond.

          1. Come now, never underestimate the gumption and imbecility of Youtube commentators to reach new lows.

  2. pot prohibition=job security

    1. “… a ‘big slap in the face’ to cops who have lost their lives keeping drugs off the street.”

      It’s not even that they’re saying drugs are bad. It’s that they cannot admit to being wrong. If they admit that they were wrong, then those cops died for nothing. So they can’t admit that they were wrong. Ever. Because that’s the same thing as saying their brothers in arms died in vain. It’s about pride and vanity. Disgusting.

      1. They did die for nothing. AND they died immoral bastards on top of it since most of them are like Dunphy and still bust people even though they know the drug war is wrong and stupid.

      2. We can’t admit we are wrong because doing so would mean telling these people they died for a mistake.

        Yeah, that is what she is saying.

        1. “And it’s one, two three
          What’re we fightin’ for….”

          1. Don’t know and I don’t give a damn,
            Next stop is Vietnam.

      3. I agree, but one would think these people dying for nothing would be all the more reason to condemn those, the drug warrior policy makers, in that position.

      4. I’m sure those same officers would rather have a slap in the face than a shot to the face, especially over a manufactured ‘war’ over a non-poisonous plant. Really, the true ‘slap in the face’ comes from those who put them in this dangerous situation in the first place (once again, over a plant that has ZERO history of killing anyone.)

    2. The war on drugs is more like a war on we citizens. This country has the highest rate of incarceration in the world, mostly because of an immoral war. The rules of this war say the cops can keep confiscated property. Isn’t that how Mohammad first got so many converts to Islam? It had the same effect here, over zealous prosecution, innocent neighbors houses raided, sometimes even shot and killed. You can still support your local police while opposing unjust laws.

  3. STFU, brain dead woman. That is all.

  4. She is just doing her job. This is Obama telling the LEO community that he doesn’t really mean it when he throws a bone to the pot smokers. Wait until after the midterms. Then he can be more flexible.

  5. Any chance she’s going to get canned for this? No amount of incompetence or arrogance has been sufficient for a senior appointee to get fired. Maybe questioning His Holiness will incite a response.

    1. Mr. Christ, as you know, I’m usually a very sympathetic person to the illness and afflictions of others. But I truly hope all these drug warriors suffer terrible pain and suffering that only Schedule I drugs can ease or cure. And I hope they are denied those drugs as they with away.

      I’ll leave it up to you to heal their souls after their earthly bodies have endured the most impossible pain imaginable. Thanks and Happy Belated Birthday.

      1. And I pray you can change with to wither since this site has no damned edit button.

    2. She is head of the DEA. Any guess how much Fast and Furious and various other dirt she knows? This administration is so dirty and so close to watching the entire thing come down in a crash that will make Watergate look tame, it cannot take the risk of firing anyone of any importance unless they have real blackmail material against them like they did against Petreus.

      Beyond that, I don’t think she is talking out of turn here. This is just her reassuring the LEO community Obama is as usual lying.

      1. I agree with John here. Obama’s comments were said to an interviewer, this lady makes and enforces drug policy for the administration. It’s her words that should be taken seriously, not his.

        1. Yeah, but that can be said of anything.

  6. Somebody needs to get this chick high and laid.

    1. After you.

      1. I wouldn’t touch her with Warty’s dick.

        1. Which one?

          1. Which one is the one with barbs?

        2. Sounds like a job for Mr. SMITH.

  7. Who will the last cop to die in the War on Drugs?

  8. …Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act, a category supposedly reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse that have no accepted medical applications and cannot be used safely, even under medical supervision.

    This is patently untrue for a lot of the drugs on Sch 1 – heroin metabolizes into morphine; it’s really just a better delivery system for morphine. MDMA has had some very successful trials as a therapeutic for PTSD and other psychological issues.

    1. Mathaqualone had plenty of medical uses until it was thrown on S1 in 1984, mostly because the US patent was up.

      I’d like to live long enough to see everyone ever in the DEA be considered pariahs, American Brownshirts that their descendants do everything to deny a connection with.

  9. Kern County, California, Sheriff Donny Youngblood, president of the Major Counties Sheriffs’ Association, the group Leonhart addressed, confirmed that she “called out Obama for what Youngblood described as ‘irresponsible’ comments that were a ‘big slap in the face’ to cops who have lost their lives keeping drugs off the street.” He said she received a standing ovation.

    You shouldn’t be surprised. Aside from being the head of the notorious “Choom gang”, here’s Obama with an admitted crack dealer (on his right).

    Obama has no problem with drugs, so long as there is some benefit to him.

    1. But drugs are okay when the right people do it.

      1. The right people being your betters, the political ruling class. The rest of us are children who need to be told what to do by our all knowing betters. That’s the lie they tell themselves everyday to justify their own existence.

        1. The right people seems to go a bit beyond that. The right people are white college students who quit after they graduate and then develop a “grown up” attitude about it where you can laugh abut your youthful hijinks but think that changes in the current laws would be a mistake because other people might not be able to handle it in such a grown up and serious way.

    2. ‘big slap in the face’ to cops who have lost their lives keeping drugs off the street.

      YEAH! And how about those cops who lost their lives fighting Capone? And those cops who stroked out during a good old fashioned lynching? What about those who died enforcing the speed limits? Fucking A!

      And don’t forget those noble Nazi prison guards who died from accidental exposure to Zyklon B.

      1. Scruffy,

        Giving your life in service to the government, regardless of how unjustifiable the government’s laws are, is the highest honor anyone can hope for. We must honor those sacrificed lives by doubling down on the stupid shit for which they died.

    3. Obama shows up for his first debate with Romney obviously hung-over, or stone dazed? One or the other. He had just been taking two days off in Vegas hanging out with Jay-Z and Beyonce. Any chance they weren’t coked out for two days?

  10. We should get her on an episode of the independents. It would go something like this:

    The Jacket: So, you’ve stated that marijuana IS more dangerous than alcohol.

    Leonhart: All illegal drugs are bad.

    The Jacket: What about all of the research done that suggests that marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol, which is legal, and that marijuana actually does have some very valuable medicinal v…

    Leonhart: All illegal drugs are bad.

    The Jacket: Um, can you tell us in what way that marijuana is more harmful to the individual or society?

    Leonhart: All illegal drugs are bad, all illegal drugs are bad, all illegal drugs are, are, are, are, are, are, are…

    1. Shut UP, Stella!

    2. Leonhart: All illegal drugs are bad, all illegal drugs are bad, all illegal drugs are, are, are, are, are, are, are…

      The Jacket: *Gibbs slaps her in the back of the head*

      Leonhart: …bad, m’kay.

  11. Yeah, I suppose I agree with those who say Obama is playing a good cop/bad cop game, trying to assure each side that “the stuff I or my people say that you don’t like is just political posturing; I’m *really* on your side.”

    Which side will he sell out? I suspect he’ll look for a way to sell out both.

    1. Which side will he sell out?

      Which side donated less money to his campaigns?

      Public employee unions donated a lot, including LEO and prison guard unions. Make of that what you may…

  12. One must remember that the head of the DEA (or any other government agency, for that matter) is in the business of empire building and maintaining the relevancy of their department. It has nothing to do with science or prevailing attitudes or doing what is ethically and morally right.

    Pot legalization threatens the very core of the DEA. And that’s one of the things that makes it so undeniably wonderful from the perspective of those who crave the exceedingly rare spectacle of government finally being put in its goddamn fucking place.

    1. One must remember that the head of the DEA (or any other government agency, for that matter) is in the business of empire building

      Exactly this. They have only a few simple goals.

      Continue to exist.

      Expand.

      Get bigger budget.

      That’s about it.

      1. Is that really particular to the DEA or is it just the life-cycle of any bureaucracy?

    2. If marijuana were to be made legal at the federal level, hard drug use would plummet.

      This is because marijuana is the gateway to the black market. It’s ubiquitous, and it’s not that unusual for someone who sells it to know someone who sells other illegal drugs.

      If pot were available legally, then finding someone to refer you to a cocaine or heroin dealer would become very difficult.

      I think the drug warriors want to keep the stuff illegal because it is also their gateway to the black market. With some pressure, low level dope dealers can refer the cops to the hard drug dealers. If dope was legal, junkies wouldn’t be the only ones to find finding heroin dealers difficult.

      It’s pretty sick when you think about it.

      1. So stop thinking about it. Now don’t you feel better?

  13. But she said her lowest point in 33 years in the DEA was when she learned they’d flown a hemp flag over the Capitol on July 4.

    Is this clambag unaware that the hemp used to make cloth has zero THC and cannot be used to get high?

    1. Irrelevant, because DRUGS ARE BAD, MMMKAY?

    2. I seriously doubt that she could tell a tomato plant from a cannabis plant, from a marigold. So, no, I would definitely wager no on that one.

    3. It is not the hemp itself, or the MJ that she finds so objectionable.

  14. The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is urging Obama to fire Leonhart.

    He won’t. He knows that at this point all he has to do is mouth the right words.

  15. When anyone says it can’t ever get to be like East Germany in the USA, remember that people like this exist.

  16. Leonhart, of course, was Obama’s pick to head the DEA, and he surely knew what he was getting, since she had been running the agency as acting administrator since November 2007 and had served as its deputy administrator before that.

    We all know Obama really wants to legalize weed but it’s hard being obstructed by all those holdovers from the Bush Administration. Just wait till after the mid-terms.

    /derp

  17. GATEWAY!

  18. So, her underlying argument is that Obama is not enough of a scientist to make that assertion? She has a degree in criminal justice, NOT neuropsychopharmacology. If that’s her argument, then she has nothing.

  19. I have epilepsy. I communicate through social networking sites on a regular basis with many other patients suffering from the debilitating neurological condition. 30% of us are unable to have our condition treated with traditional pharmaceuticals. I’ve had very lengthy, in depth conversations with frustrated parents whose small children are having severe, life-threatening seizures on a daily basis and they can’t find proper treatment. Cannabis has been used successfully in MANY cases, often in children. I get SO tired of these misinformed shrews in their pant suits, chugging their wine, attempting to tell the rest of us what is best for OUR families, when she has no idea what she is talking about. Not everyone who uses Marijuana is a potato chip hoarding stoner, it IS a successful treatment option for a variety of ailments. And guess what? In my personal opinion, it should be okay for recreational use as well. How is getting fall-on-your-face wasted off of beer or chardonnay more sophisticated than smoking a little Marijuana? I’ve known plenty of people, including Managers and Entrepreneurs, who successfully ran businesses while ‘high’ on mary jane. Like anything, it’s not for everyone…I mean, not everyone likes cookies I suppose.

    1. But don’t believe the lies. It’s exhausting to deal with these idiotic bureaucrats and the agendas they attempt to hide. I don’t care that cops have lost their lives serving this stupid war, I care more about the innocent children (and adults) that are suffering on a regular basis because they’re being denied the only medicine that has helped them because this cunt needs a little job security. Sickening. Furthermore: I highly doubt Obama is going to legalize, just more bologna coming from the king of empty promises.

    2. But don’t believe the lies. It’s exhausting to deal with these idiotic bureaucrats and the agendas they attempt to hide. I don’t care that cops have lost their lives serving this stupid war, I care more about the innocent children (and adults) that are suffering on a regular basis because they’re being denied the only medicine that has helped them because this cunt needs a little job security. Sickening. Furthermore: I highly doubt Obama is going to legalize, just more bologna coming from the king of empty promises.

  20. the president’s commitment to prioritizing science over ideology and politics

    Whoever said that was high on something.

  21. Fire her ass. General McChrystal was relieved of command for less.

  22. If the cops who have lost their lives keeping drugs off the street lend moral authority to the witch-hunt, aren’t they outnumbered by the gangstas who have lost their lives putting drugs on the street?

  23. 2 words for you: Pollos Hermanos.
    Just look at the numbers at the legal markets, that we can account for… You can have an idea of how much money some people are making on the illegal markets – and how much power this gives those people to buy who the fuck they want.

  24. I would trust the president over the DEA because the it is not the job of the DEA to be making claims as if they are scientists they are not they only enforce drug policys and laws they have no place or say in the plant its a natural plant they say it stays in your system so long no actually it doesn’t drug tests only detect the broken down particles they are testing what is already turned into something else by the body it only stays active in your body for four hours after that it is metabolized what drug tests are testing is the metaboized no longer active particles left behind no human on the planet is going to be high for six months from one puff on a pipe impossible where is the proof its obviously bias garbage statements made up over money.

  25. Yeah, I suppose I agree with those who say Obama is playing a good cop/bad cop game, trying to assure each side that “the stuff I or my people say that you don’t like is just political posturing; I’m *really* on your side.”
    Voter ID
    Election commission of India

  26. Fire her ass. General McChrystal was relieved of command for less.
    KIK

    Tagged

  27. Obama is right and truthfully says but truth sometime hurts other people .its is a harsh reality

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