August 18, 2010

Obama Picks Contradicting DEA Head Michele Leonhart


For a while, it looked like progressives and small government types might never stop warring over the passage of the Democrats

’ health care bill earlier this year. But it seems a few members of each team — FireDogLake, the 10th Amendment Center, and a slew of marijuana activists – have finally found common cause in calling for President Obama to rescind the nomination of Michele Leonhart to head the Drug Enforcement Agency.

Obama is confident that Leonhart is the right choice, the White House staffer said, and that as of Friday the president wasn’t considering anyone else for the position. In other words, the response from 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. to a chorus of concerns boils down to: Leonhart or bust.

In response to this message, critics have pointed out that Obama is shifting his stance on marijuana policy.

“It’s unfortunate — and outright baffling — that the Obama administration would choose someone for this post whose resume is so strongly at odds with the ‘new direction’ this administration had promised for drug policy in general and medical marijuana in particular,” the Marijuana Policy Project’s Mike Meno told The Daily Caller.

“During the election campaign, and again through the Department of Justice memo in October, President Obama vowed to stop the outrageous Bush-era practice of raiding and prosecuting medical marijuana patients and providers who operate under state law. If change is what they seek, why would the administration nominate a Bush holdover under whom the DEA continues to raid the private property of citizens obeying state law? It makes no sense.”

MPP and other marijuana activists have pointed to a series of raids the DEA conducted in California as recently as last month as evidence that Leonhart is continuing the Bush-era strategy of cracking down on medical marijuana dispensaries and growers, even if they are operating legally under California law. They say this conflicts directly with statements Obama made on the campaign trail, such as this one from April 2008:

“When it comes to medical marijuana, I have a practical view more than anything. My attitude is that if it’s an issue of doctors prescribing medical marijuana as a treatment for glaucoma or a cancer treatment, there really is no difference between that and a doctor prescribing morphine, or anything else.”

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