The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Mike Meno, MPP director of communications:
202-905-2030, 443-927-6400 or

Obama Nominee to Lead DEA Scheduled for Confirmation Hearing Tomorrow

Nomination of Michele Leonhart, a Bush Administration Holdover, Is Fiercely Opposed by Drug Policy Reform Community, Others


Senate Judiciary Committee is scheduled to hold a confirmation hearing
tomorrow for Michele Leonhart to serve as administrator of the Drug
Enforcement Administration, a post Leonhart has held on an interim basis
for two years after serving as deputy administrator under the Bush
administration from 2003 to 2007.

During her tenure, Leonhart has presided over
hundreds of paramilitary DEA raids on medical marijuana patients and
providers in states where medical marijuana is legal. Even after the
Department of Justice, in an October 2009 memo, instructed federal
prosecutors to no longer target medical marijuana providers "whose
actions are in clear and unambiguous compliance with state laws," the
DEA under Leonhart's leadership has continued to stage raids on
individuals operating under state law.

In July, DEA agents flouted a pioneering Mendocino County (CA) ordinance to regulate medical marijuana cultivation by raiding
the very first grower to register with the sheriff. Joy Greenfield, 68,
had paid more than $1,000 for a permit to cultivate 99 plants in a
collective garden that had been inspected and approved by a local
sheriff. Informed that Greenfield had the support of the sheriff, the
DEA agent in charge responded by saying, "I don't care what the sheriff

"During Ms. Leonhart's confirmation hearing, I
hope senators ask how she plans to engage with local authorities in the
growing number of states where medical marijuana is legal," said Steve
Fox, director of government relations for the Marijuana Policy Project.
"In order to comply with the Justice Department's directive, the DEA
needs to adopt a policy whereby agents consult with local law
enforcement to determine whether someone is in compliance with local
laws - before they raid and seize private property."

Leonhart's nomination is opposed by the Marijuana
Policy Project, the Drug Policy Alliance, the National Organization for
the Reform of Marijuana Laws and its California chapter, Law
Enforcement Against Prohibition, Students for Sensible Drug Policy, the
10th Amendment Center, and Jane Hamsher, the founder and publisher of the progressive political blog Firedoglake.

The Marijuana Policy Project (MPP) is the number one organization in the U.S. legalizing cannabis. We passed 13 medical cannabis laws in the past 15 years, and we ran winning campaigns in eight of the 11 legalization states. No organization in the movement has changed as many cannabis laws, impacted as many patients and consumers, created as many new markets, or done more to end cannabis prohibition in the U.S. than MPP.