Medical Marijuana Advocates Bring Attention to DEA Confirmation HearingsActing DEA head Michele Leonhart, a Bush-holdover, led aggressive campaign against medical marijuana
Washington, DC -- After more than two years as acting head of
the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele Leonhart, who served
as Deputy DEA Administrator during George W. Bush's presidency, is
scheduled to be confirmed by the Senate Judiciary Committee this Wednesday,
November 17th at 2:30pm EST. No friend to medical marijuana
patients, Leonhart along with her former boss, DEA Administrator Karen
Tandy, were responsible for more than two hundred paramilitary-style
raids on patients and their providers. As Acting DEA Administrator,
Leonhart has continued to raid dispensaries, growers and medical
marijuana testing labs despite a change in federal policy under
Although Leonhart is expected to be easily confirmed, advocates want to hold her feet to the fire, and are encouraging Senate Judiciary Committee members to ask tough questions about adherence to President Obama's Justice Department policy and her plans for addressing the growing divide between federal and state medical marijuana laws. "Leonhart's track record of causing untold harm to patients and their providers over the years is cause for a serious lack of trust in the medical marijuana community," said Caren Woodson, Director of Government Affairs with Americans for Safe Access, the country's leading medical marijuana advocacy group, which has submitted questions to be asked of Leonhart during the confirmation hearing. "We need to know that Leonhart has a plan for medical marijuana and the protection of patients and that she will be held accountable for her actions."
What: Michele Leonhart's confirmation hearing to be the next DEA AdministratorIn October 2009, the Obama Administration issued a memorandum to U.S. Attorneys discouraging the use of federal resources to prosecute individuals who are in "clear and unambiguous compliance" with their state medical marijuana law. Since then, ASA has tracked more than 30 federal enforcement raids in California, Colorado, Hawaii, and Nevada, all medical marijuana states. By contrast, local and state governments are recognizing the need for, and authorizing methods of, distribution of medical marijuana. In a grassroots push over the next two days, medical marijuana advocates across the country are calling on Senate Judiciary Committee members to ask hard questions of Leonhart. "Leonhart must look at this as a public health issue and do more to reconcile the conflict between local, state and federal laws," continued Woodson.
When: Wednesday, November 17th at 2:30pm
Where: Senate Judiciary Committee, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 226, Washington, DC