Embattled DEA Chief Expected to Resign

Some reasons not to miss Michele Leonhart


House Oversight and Government Reform Committee

Less than a week after members of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee expressed "no confidence" in Michele Leonhart, CBS News reports that the embattled head of the Drug Enforcement Administration will resign soon. The Drug Policy Alliance reviews some of the reasons why Leonhart, a hardline holdover from the Bush administration, won't be missed, including "questionable enforcement practices," "numerous scandals and human rights abuses," and "failure to follow statutory requirements that decisions be based on scientific evidence."

The DEA under Leonhart obstructed research on marijuana's medical utility, raided dispensaries despite President Obama's promises that he would leave them alone, and stubbornly defended marijuana's status as a Schedule I substance, a category supposedly reserved for drugs with a high potential for abuse that have no accepted medical use and cannot be used safely, even under a doctor's supervision. Leonhart's know-nothing approach to drugs was crystallized during a 2012 congressional hearing when she refused to say whether heroin is more dangerous than marijuana. Later she publicly criticized Obama for conceding that marijuana is safer than alcohol. She also reportedly said the lowest point of her career with the DEA came when a hemp flag flew over the Capitol, which gives you a sense of her priorities. 

None of that got her fired, of course. Instead it seems to have been the bipartisan outrage aroused by her less-than-forceful response to allegations of wild DEA sex parties underwritten by American taxpayers and Colombian drug traffickers. "Honestly, what power do you have?" Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.) asked Leonhart during a recent hearing. "You have to work with agents over whom you can't discipline and have no control. What the hell do you get to do?" The answer: find a real job.