DEA

RSS Feed for this category

Medical Marijuana Advocates Bring Attention to DEA Confirmation Hearings: Acting DEA Head Michele Leonhart, a Bush-holdover, Led Aggressive Campaign Against Medical Marijuana (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2010
9:28 AM

CONTACT: Americans for Safe Access
SA Government Affairs Director Caren Woodson 510-388-0546 or ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes 510-681-6361

Medical Marijuana Advocates Bring Attention to DEA Confirmation Hearings

Acting DEA head Michele Leonhart, a Bush-holdover, led aggressive campaign against medical marijuana

WASHINGTON - November 15 - 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 President Obama.

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 Administrator
When: Wednesday, November 17th at 2:30pm
Where: Senate Judiciary Committee, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Room 226, Washington, DC

In 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.

In addition to enforcement, as head of the DEA, Leonhart will have authority over an unanswered marijuana Rescheduling petition that has been pending since 2002. Filed by the Coalition for Rescheduling Cannabis (CRC), the petition originally argued before the Bush Administration that marijuana has medical value and should be rescheduled. Now before the Obama Administration, advocates and coalition members are expecting more rigorous scrutiny on an issue that has been progressively moving toward scientific and mainstream acceptance. This past week it was confirmed that Arizona, which narrowly voted for Proposition 203, would become the country's 15th state to pass a medical marijuana law.

Under the authority of the Controlled Substances Act, Leonhart has significant control over medical marijuana research in the U.S., and has used her position as Acting Administrator to obstruct the scientific advancement of this important therapeutic substance. In January 2009, days before President Bush was to vacate his office, Acting Administrator Leonhart thwarted an effort to end federal obstruction of medical marijuana research, ignoring an 87-page recommendation from her own DEA Administrative Law Judge Mary Ellen Bittner, who ruled that such research was "in the public interest." The DEA and the National Institute for Drug Abuse (NIDA) have colluded to obstruct medical efficacy studies by prioritizing research on the supposed harmful effects of marijuana.

Further information:
Leonhart confirmation hearing notice: http://judiciary.senate.gov/hearings/hearing.cfm?id=4850
ASA Questions for Leonhart: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/ASA_Leonhart_Questions.pdf
ASA Memo to Senate Judiciary Committee: http://AmericansForSafeAccess.org/downloads/ASA_Leonhart_Memo.pdf

###
Location: 
Washington, DC
United States

Dr. Mollie Fry's Medical Marijuana Conviction Upheld

A panel on the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld the marijuana cultivation and distribution conspiracy convictions of California Dr. Marion "Mollie" Fry and her partner, Dale Schafer. Fry and Schafer, both medical marijuana patients, had been sentenced to five years in federal prison in the case, but were free on bail pending the appeal. There is no word yet on when they will have to report to prison or whether they will try further appeals.

After developing breast cancer, Dr. Fry turned to medical marijuana, and she and Schafer built up a medical marijuana practice, with Dr. Fry writing recommendations and she and Schafer growing and distributing marijuana to patients. They did so with the understanding from local law enforcement that they were in compliance with state law.

But local law enforcement was working with the DEA, and the couple was raided, arrested, and convicted of violating federal drug control laws. Because they were convicted of growing more than 100 plants, they face mandatory minimum five-year prison sentences.

They appealed the conviction, arguing that because local law enforcement agents were cooperating with the DEA at the same time they were assuring the couple they were in compliance with state law, local law enforcement was in effect working for the feds to entrap them. They also argued that local law enforcement entrapped them for sentencing purposes by encouraging them to grow more than 100 plants, the number that triggers a mandatory minimum sentence. And they argued their convictions should be overturned because they were not allowed to mount a medical marijuana defense.

But the 9th Circuit panel didn't buy any of it. In the opinion authored by Judge Richard Tallman, the court held that Fry and Schafer did not prove they were entrapped and that they were correctly precluded by Supreme Court precedent from mounting a medical marijuana defense. Now, the health-care providing couple are most likely headed to federal prison for their efforts.   

San Francisco, CA
United States

Stop Stifling Proposition 19 Supporters (Action Alert)

We Are Drug Policy Action.

Tell the Attorney General to stay out of the Prop. 19 debate!

Register to vote!
Send him a letter today!

Dear friends,

Recently, in a letter to former DEA administrators, Attorney General Eric Holder said:

"We will vigorously enforce the [federal law] against those individuals and organizations that possess, manufacture or distribute marijuana for recreational use, even if such activities are permitted under state law."

This carefully-timed statement is an attempt to take the steam out of the Prop. 19 movement. But the fact of the matter is states can decide their own marijuana laws, and if Proposition 19 passes it will effectively legalize marijuana in California.

Write Attorney General Eric Holder today and tell him to stay out of the Prop. 19 debate and respect voters' choices!

Polls continue to show Proposition 19 at about even odds of passing, and thanks to the help of supporters like you, we've been able to work with the "Yes on 19" campaign to launch a significant TV and online ad campaign as well as make thousands of calls to California voters and raise money to get out the vote. It's this sort of activism that will tip the scales on Election Day.

With only six days left until Californians take to the polls, we can't let empty threats stop our momentum. Send a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder and tell him that marijuana legalization is an issue states must decide for themselves!

Back in 1996, the federal government said the medical marijuana initiative in California was a symbolic gesture at most because they would continue to criminalize all marijuana use. Now, fourteen other states and the District of Columbia have functioning medical marijuana laws. It was politically-motivated saber rattling then -- just as Attorney General Holder's statement is today.

Let's put sound policy before petty politics. Write Attorney General Holder today!

Sincerely,

Stephen Gutwillig
State Director, California
Drug Policy Action

Location: 
CA
United States

Oops! Obama Offends DEA With Drug War Comments

President Barack Obama insulted -- albeit inadvertently -- the folks at the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration by mentioning the FBI instead of their agency in remarks about the war on drugs. Over the years, the DEA has often felt neglected -- or at least has been in the shadow of the FBI. To boot, there have been occasional rumors over the years about the DEA being folded into the FBI, which also investigates drug cases.
Publication/Source: 
AOL News (US)
URL: 
http://www.aolnews.com/politics/article/president-obama-offends-dea-agents-with-drug-war-comments/19674990

Quote of the Day

Last week's Wall Street Journal op-ed from nine former DEA administrators resulted in some interesting letters to the editor. Here's my favorite:

The authors say, "Keeping drugs illegal reduces their availability and lessens willingness to use them." I suppose that is why after 37 years, trillions of taxpayer dollars, and tens if not hundreds of thousands of drug-related murders later, today's high-school kids are a text message away from buying pot whenever they want, and a decent chunk of our border with Mexico is ruled by drug gangs.

D. Silvers
Orlando, Fla.

Yeah, that pretty much sums it up. Anyone whose professional bio includes the title "Former DEA Administrator" shouldn't be looked to for advice or expertise on drug policy.

The D.E.A. Changes a Policy on Painkillers

The Drug Enforcement Administration has issued a new guideline intended to help ease the delay some nursing home residents face in receiving certain painkillers and anti-anxiety medications. The D.E.A. had not previously recognized nurses employed by nursing homes as the legal agents of doctors in conveying controlled substances prescriptions to pharmacists. The agency’s previous stance, critics said in an article last week in The New York Times, caused many nursing home residents to suffer in pain while they waited for their prescriptions.
Publication/Source: 
The New York Times (NY)
URL: 
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/07/health/policy/07aging.html

Ex-DEA Bosses Lash Out Against Marijuana Legalization in California

With the Prop 19 vote less than a month away and polling strong, it has apparently dawned on the nation's top drug warriors that now might be a good time to start freaking out. Hence, we find nine former DEA administrators complaining in The Wall Street Journal that Attorney General Eric Holder hasn't been busy threatening Californians with a federal crackdown:

…if passed by voters in November, Proposition 19—also known as the Regulate, Control and Tax Cannabis Act of 2010—will be in direct conflict with the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), a federal law that makes the production and sale of marijuana a federal crime. In our federal system, a state law that conflicts with a federal law violates the Supremacy Clause of the U.S. Constitution and is void.

We have urged Attorney General Eric Holder to speak out on this issue. If Mr. Holder and his department remain silent, it will send an unfortunate message to the public and to our law-enforcement counterparts overseas and in this country. The Justice Department's continued silence also indicates a willingness to ignore the policy set out by the president in his National Drug Control Strategy.

Yeah, you ignorant hippies, hasn't anyone ever told you that it's illegal to legalize marijuana? If you're wondering how come medical marijuana has been openly sold in storefronts across California ever since the passage of Prop 215 back in 1996, you must be hallucinating, because that never happened.

Seriously though, how ridiculous is it that these desperate drug warriors are deploying the same insultingly stupid distraction tactics that failed them more than a decade ago? They actually want Holder to tell voters that Prop 19 will be "void" even if it passes, as though no one in California has ever heard of a marijuana dispensary. This, in their view, is an argument so strong as to warrant an entire Wall Street Journal op-ed dedicated to it.

For another layer of absurdity, consider that one of the authors, Karen Tandy, presided over the DEA during a dramatic expansion of the medical marijuana industry that she now claims is legally impossible, even though it actually happened in real life while she was in charge of federal drug enforcement. She knows as well as anyone that California can make its own drug laws whether the DEA likes it or not. It's true that she could have prosecuted everyone in sight under federal law, but for a variety of practical and political reasons, that isn't what happened. It's not likely to happen if Prop 19 passes either, at least not unless Obama has a masochistic desire to further alienate his base as we heads towards 2012.

Will the Government's Drug 'Take-Back' Do Anything to Reduce Misuse? (Opinion)

Seeking to address the fact that in 17 states prescription drug combination overdoses kill more people than traffic accidents, and that prescription drug related treatment admissions have recently increased 400%, the DEA will collect your unused medications, no questions asked. But will this straightforward strategy really address the rise in addictions and death? The data suggest that the issue is more complicated than you think.
Publication/Source: 
TIME (US)
URL: 
http://healthland.time.com/2010/09/24/will-the-governments-drug-take-back-do-anything-to-reduce-misuse/

Court Blames DEA Agent’s Road Rage in 2003 Beating

Location: 
KS
United States
When Barron Bowling wouldn’t let a car pass him from the right seven years ago, it sparked road rage that left him beaten and lying on blistering pavement. Bowling’s attacker turned out to be federal Drug Enforcement Administration agent Timothy McCue, who was in an unmarked car with two colleagues.
Publication/Source: 
The Kansas City Star (MO)
URL: 
http://www.kansascity.com/2010/09/20/2238527/court-blames-dea-agents-road-rage.html

Federal Agents Raid At Least Five Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Dispensaries (Press Release)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 8, 2010
11:25 PM

CONTACT: Americans for Safe Access
ASA Media Liaison Kris Hermes 510-681-6361

Federal Agents Raid At Least Five Las Vegas Medical Marijuana Dispensaries

Advocates underscore need for dispensary regulations, end to federal enforcement

LAS VEGAS - September 8 - The federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) conducted raids earlier today on at least five medical marijuana dispensaries in Las Vegas, Nevada, and reportedly seized patient and financial records, but made no arrests. According to the Associated Press, Natalie Collins, spokeswoman for the local U.S. Attorney's office said that the federal search warrants and "supporting affidavits stemming from what she called 'an ongoing law enforcement operation' were sealed by federal court order." The dispensaries raided today by federal agents and local police included: Happiness Consultant, Salvation Haven, Nature's Way, Organic Releaf, & Holistic Solutions.

The federal raids come nearly a year after an October 2009 Justice Department directive issued to U.S. Attorneys in medical marijuana states, deprioritizing enforcement against medical marijuana patients and providers. The Las Vegas raids occurred less than two months after another spate of federal raids in July against state-compliant patients in California and Michigan. "The federal government should never be called on to enforce local or state medical marijuana laws," said Caren Woodson, Director of Government Affairs with Americans for Safe Access (ASA), the country's largest medical marijuana advocacy group. "The federal DEA must abide by the Justice Department policy and stay out of the enforcement of local and state medical marijuana laws."

In July, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman stated publicly on local television that allowing dispensaries was "a very legitimate goal," and that, "If doctors say that it does a patient some good and gives relief to somebody that has a dire need for it, I'm all for it." Nevada failed to consider the issue of distribution at the time of adopting its medical marijuana law in 2000. Although the state allows "Designated Primary Caregivers" to supply medical marijuana to patients, the qualifications are stringent and require "significant responsibility for managing the well-being of a person diagnosed with a chronic or debilitating medical condition."

Nevada's effort to address the need of sick patients to access local distribution of medical marijuana mirrors the efforts in other states like California, Colorado, Michigan, Oregon and Washington. Both Maine and Rhode Island have amended their laws to include state-licensed distribution similar to the medical marijuana laws of New Mexico. The trend to ensure safe access to medical marijuana by establishing licensed distribution facilities has even extended to states currently deliberating new medical marijuana laws, such as Iowa, Kansas, Maryland and Wisconsin.

"A failure to regulate the much-needed distribution of medical marijuana by states such as Nevada should not be seen as a green light by the feds to conduct raids," continued Woodson. ASA has and will continue to work with both federal officials in the Obama Administration as well as local and state officials in Nevada to address the safe distribution of medical marijuana as a public health issue.

The DEA is currently being directed by Bush-appointee Michele Leonhart, who served as deputy under DEA Administrator Karen Tandy; both were responsible for more than 200 federal raids in California and other medical marijuana states during the Bush Administration. Against objections from medical marijuana advocates, President Obama nominated Leonhart to head the DEA under his Justice Department, but her Senate confirmation has yet to be scheduled.

Further Information: Justice Department memorandum from October 2009 regarding medical marijuana: http://blogs.usdoj.gov/blog/archives/19

###
Location: 
Las Vegas, NV
United States

Drug War Issues

Criminal JusticeAsset Forfeiture, Collateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Court Rulings, Drug Courts, Due Process, Felony Disenfranchisement, Incarceration, Policing (2011 Drug War Killings, 2012 Drug War Killings, 2013 Drug War Killings, 2014 Drug War Killings, Arrests, Eradication, Informants, Interdiction, Lowest Priority Policies, Police Corruption, Police Raids, Profiling, Search and Seizure, SWAT/Paramilitarization, Task Forces, Undercover Work), Probation or Parole, Prosecution, Reentry/Rehabilitation, Sentencing (Alternatives to Incarceration, Clemency and Pardon, Crack/Powder Cocaine Disparity, Death Penalty, Decriminalization, Defelonization, Drug Free Zones, Mandatory Minimums, Rockefeller Drug Laws, Sentencing Guidelines)CultureArt, Celebrities, Counter-Culture, Music, Poetry/Literature, Television, TheaterDrug UseParaphernalia, ViolenceIntersecting IssuesCollateral Sanctions (College Aid, Drug Taxes, Housing, Welfare), Violence, Border, Budgets/Taxes/Economics, Business, Civil Rights, Driving, Economics, Education (College Aid), Employment, Environment, Families, Free Speech, Gun Policy, Human Rights, Immigration, Militarization, Money Laundering, Pregnancy, Privacy (Search and Seizure, Drug Testing), Race, Religion, Science, Sports, Women's IssuesMarijuana PolicyGateway Theory, Hemp, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Marijuana Industry, Medical MarijuanaMedicineMedical Marijuana, Science of Drugs, Under-treatment of PainPublic HealthAddiction, Addiction Treatment (Science of Drugs), Drug Education, Drug Prevention, Drug-Related AIDS/HIV or Hepatitis C, Harm Reduction (Methadone & Other Opiate Maintenance, Needle Exchange, Overdose Prevention, Safe Injection Sites)Source and Transit CountriesAndean Drug War, Coca, Hashish, Mexican Drug War, Opium ProductionSpecific DrugsAlcohol, Ayahuasca, Cocaine (Crack Cocaine), Ecstasy, Heroin, Ibogaine, ketamine, Khat, Marijuana (Gateway Theory, Marijuana -- Personal Use, Medical Marijuana, Hashish), Methamphetamine, New Synthetic Drugs (Synthetic Cannabinoids, Synthetic Stimulants), Nicotine, Prescription Opiates (Fentanyl, Oxycontin), Psychedelics (LSD, Mescaline, Peyote, Salvia Divinorum)YouthGrade School, Post-Secondary School, Raves, Secondary School

StopTheDrugWar Video Archive