DEA Head Criticizes Obama for Telling the Truth About Marijuana

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
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

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
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

Leonhart, of course, was Obama’s
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
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.

from Hit & Run

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.