DEA Chief Opposes Marijuana Legalization, Supports Mandatory Minimums

DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart appeared before the Senate Judiciary Committee Wednesday to warn of the dangers of marijuana legalization and affirm her support for mandatory minimum sentences.

DEA administrator Michele Leonhart (
Leonhart's testimony put her increasingly at odds with the administration that employs her. The Obama administration has announced that it is not going to interfere with legal marijuana in states that have approved it -- unless some of its eight listed enforcement priorities are in play -- and it has made it very clear that it views mandatory minimum sentencing as a failed policy.

Leonhart mentioned two of the enforcement priorities -- the leakage of marijuana to non-legal states and the use of the herb by minors -- in her statement to the committee. She said she is worried by an increase in marijuana trafficking in states surrounding Colorado and that the same thing could happen in Washington state. She also worried that increasing acceptance of marijuana would lead to increased use.

"The trends are what us in law enforcement had expected would happen," she said. "In 2012, 438,000 Americans were addicted to heroin. And 10 times that number were dependent on marijuana." But she did not provide any evidence tying the number of marijuana users to changing attitudes or laws.

The DEA is indeed concerned about marijuana legalization. Three months ago, DEA chief of operations James Capra called legalization in the states reckless and irresponsible and warned of looming disaster.

"It scares us," Capra said during a Senate hearing in January. "Every part of the world where this has been tried, it has failed time and time again."

Except that marijuana legalization has never been tried anywhere before Uruguay, Colorado, and Washington made the leap too recently to cite. In the Netherlands, where authorities turn a blind eye to sales at cannabis coffee shops and which is often cited as an example of "legalization," life goes on and marijuana use rates are well with European norms.

Leonhart continued singing the same old tune Wednesday, warning that emergency room visits related to marijuana increased by 28% between 2007 and 2011.

ER visits may be up, but it's the quality, not just the quantity that also matters. Marijuana has no fatal overdose potential; most marijuana-related ER visits are panic attacks or anxiety reactions, not life-threatening events.

Leonhart also had kind words for mandatory minimums, even though her immediate boss, Attorney General Eric Holder has said they create cruel, disproportionate punishments and contribute to federal prison overcrowding.

"Having been in law enforcement as an agent for 33 years [and] a Baltimore City police officer before that, I can tell you that for me and for the agents that work at the DEA, mandatory minimums have been very important to our investigations," said Leonhart, in response to a question from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa). "We depend on those as a way to ensure that the right sentences equate the level of violator we are going after."

Leonhart is a holdover from the Bush administration. It is unclear how long she can continue to fit in under an Obama administration that is moving forward on drug policy reform.

Washington, DC
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Hopefully sorta she'll be making a lot of money soon

As a private sector consultant, speaker blah blah blah to the control freak bigot industry. Better yet, to be mean about it, if she starts feeling so nauseous that she needs med marijuana to eat, and repents of her evil ways.

Her approach has many holes

Her approach has many holes in it. Being fifty three years old I know what drugs are available on the streets. Here is the hook, drug dealers on the street will push any drug to anyone. Think about this, if an underage person were to obtain marihuana through a legal purchase then to them, it's still not the hard as hell drugs that the black market pushes. So, what's worse for society legal or illegal and let's lock everybody up for having some fun.

The Lie has Worked Thus Far

"Yes Ms. Leonhart, could you please summarize why marijuana should remain prohibited in our 21st century society?"

"Thank you chairman, surely you know that eventually there will be many deaths attributed to marijuana consumption. Think of it, no one has died and the biggest users are brain dead dregs of the earth. Surely these types deserve the better more addictive drugs like tobacco, alcohol, opiates, and the new darling of the chemical dependent suboxone. Chemical dependency is the mainstay of our department. Marijuana offers nothing in this matter. Physicians in the 1930's compared addiction to marijuana to an addiction to 'luxury'."

"The federal government has taken great strides in driving people to stronger more life sucking drugs like crack,methamphetamine, and bath salts. No one could possibly see benefits or advantages from getting the derivative from a literal weed and substituting this recreationally or medically."

"I beg all of you to please let me eradicate marijuana and penalize all those who have an affinity for this horrendous product. Thank you."

The powers that be have heads up ass, we need to make more noise. Invest in drug testing labs, the new joke of the modern era.  The feds got rid of the best pot in the world in Hawaii, they have had a meth problem ever since. I am a pothead not a pill head, because I am subject to testing, I can not use. 

My , My , Michele

This hearing should have been broadcast in black & white , with some static for good measure . You know , 1940 style . The only thing Ms. Michele was missing , is a blanket and a glass of warm chocolate milk . A bunch of foxes questioning a fox over the hen house basically . She obviously swore an " allegiance " to her job and to the hypocrisy of the organizations foundation .  Soul selling carries a heavy price . Will she be out before or after the next election ? Can you really buy an analog HDTV that only plays in black & white ?

If you dissagree with DEA

If you dissagree with DEA Chief, there is a petition from Marijuana Policy Project asking Obama to remove her

Testimony, smeshtimony... what a crock

Her testimony is all about keeping her agency up and running and making sure it doesn't suffer budget cuts because of marijuana legalization. Too many agents would be out of a job. For her it's better we hit the citizenry with mandatory minimums than admit that by their own definition of a Schedule I drug on the DEA web site, marijuana unquestionably does not qualify to be included.


Of course she is against it. The Government would have to lay off thousands of DEA,, FBI, and ATF agents, office staff, and vendors, prison guards, food service employees, Law enforcement and prison uniform manufacturers . The drug war is just another big government business at it's worst.








U.S. Marines Guard Afghanistan Poppy Fields


Opium Poppy Cultivation Reaches Record Highs in Afghanistan

How pathetic..

how pathetic that congress is cutting the budget of our military, but a useless organization like the DEA is allowed to continue running rampant with a runaway budget.. and rouge leaders who are undermining the administration's policy directions.

Disband the DEA.. there's no reason anything they do can't be handled by other agencies.. and since the the current rhetoric is that "there is no drug war" then we don't need a special dedicated army to fight the drug war any longer.

Seriously.. disband the DEA, and let the FBI and local enforcement absorb their mission.

DEA of course needs mandatory minimums

They need it to force people to snitch. Too many low level non violent drug offenders wasting tax payers dollars are in prison. The DEA lies and steals to win the charges they put on people. The most famous charge a conspiracy charge to force the mandatory minimum. They lie cheat and steal and put innocent and guilty behind bars for years.

Michele Leonhart is in a Race to the Bottom – DEA in Tow

You may or may not remember stories of how the British Allies in WWII had multiple opportunities to shoot Adolf Hitler, but didn't?  The reasons given are usually bogus, like killing Hitler wasn’t ‘sporting’, or something.  The truth is that no one wanted Hitler dead.

Hitler was such a manic screw-up that if he did anything right, it was by accident.  He was anti-science, and ignorant of science, much like Sarah Palin.  He caused the emigration of Jewish scientists from Europe, and he rejected ‘Jewish’ science, like the Theory of Relativity.  Many of the same expat Jews went on to develop the A-Bomb at Alamogordo, New Mexico.  Hitler’s meddling in weapons projects caused delays and misdirected the weapons and their potential uses.  Imagine how the war might have turned out had General Erwin Rommel been the leader of Germany.  Best to have incompetence lead the way to utter defeat.

And that maxim is true of Michele Leonhart as well, a woman lacking any imagination, and incapable of possessing any sensible grip on political reality.

Left DEA Stand their ground

The country has enough troubles without adding to them buy allowing more abuse of Federal law by individual states. President Obama and Attorney General Holder took sworn oaths to uphold the USC, yet they both neglect to do their sworn duty. I can personally attest to people already involved in interstate transportation of marijuana from Colorado and Montana. The medical marijuana trafficing is heavy enough but with the now recreational use marijuana for sale in Colorado being sold in states that don't recognize medical or recreational use marijuana in their jursidictions...well the DEA Administrator's testimony already is true. Marijuana legalization and/or decriminalization is not the smart nor prudent course for the United States to embark on. All Americans need to respect and obey the laws of the land, especially  the United States Code.

Some polling data

Notice that 54% support legalization and at the same time, 53% of the people believe that neither political party is representing the will of the American people.

Pew poll shows American peole are sick of the war on drugs, noting that a broad majority of Americans are ready to significantly reduce the role of the criminal justice system in dealing with people who use drugs. Pew results:

63% of Americans think that we should stop mandatory prison terms for drug law violations.

54% are in favor of marijuana legalization.

67% say the government should focus more on providing treatment for people who use drugs like cocaine and heroin, and only

26% think the focus should be more on prosecuting people who use such drugs.


#1 A national Rasmussen Reports survey has found that an all time high 53 percent of all Americans believe that neither major political party "represents the American people"

2. According to a Real Clear Politics average of national polls, only 29 percent of Americans believe that the country is heading in the right direction.

3. According to a Real Clear Politics average of national polls, Americans disaprove of the job that Barack Obama is doing by a 52.2 to 43.7 percent margin.

4. According to a Real Clear Politics average of national polls, Americans disaprove of the job that Congress is doing by a 77.6 percent to 14.2 percent margin.

5. 52 percent of Americans "do not think the economy is fair to those willing to work hard."

6. 65 percent of Americans are dissatisfied "with the US system of government and its effectiveness." That is the highest level of dissatisfaction that Gallup has ever recorded.

7. Only 4 percent of Americans believe that it would "change Congress for the worse" every member was voted out during the next election.

8. An time e low 31 percent of Americans identify themselves as Democrats.

9. An all-time low 25 percent of Americans identify themselves as Republicans

10. An all time high 42 percent of Americans identify themselves as Independents

11. 60 percent of Americans report feeling "angry or irritable." Two years ago that number was at 50 percent.

12. 70 percent of Americans do not have confidence that the federal government will "make progress on the important problems and issues facing the country in 2014.



When 'the Laws of the Land' are WRONG

People like this woman are just doing what they perceive to be their jobs. The individuals in question are not going to change their collective tunes. It is congress, and THE PEOPLE which must act. We must find our collective voice, and make it clear that UNJUST POLICIES such as 'Drug Prohibition' NEED TO GO! The DEA needs to be DISBANDED or given entirely different mandates. The 'Scheduling' of substances which began under Tricky Dick Nixon is badly in need of overhaul, and needs to be completely changed. Until this happens, the bloated prison and law enforcement community will begin to wail anytime someone threatens their FIX.


I quit reading at "“It scares us,”"..

You know what scares me? These DEA folks..They carry guns, have all the power of God and yet have such little actual knowledge. A 'little' knowledge is a dangerous thing. The DEA is full of dangerous people hell bent on tossing 30 percent of the population behind bars if they had their way, when they themselves are not gathering at the local lounge to imbibe in the most deadly drug in the world, and relish in their stories about rounding up peaceful grass smokers.

Skrew em, Leonhart is a menace and a certified idiot who is 'afraid' of the nations top agricultural crop. Someone get her a nice rubber room and let her live out her delusions and fears in peace.

I knew she had mental deficiencies when she said seeing a hemp flag flown over the Capital Building on July 4th was the LOWEST moment of her law career.

Totally devoid of the fact that Betsy Ross's first flag, and every flag that flew over the Capital until the invention and implementation of Nylon (which is still not as strong as a hemp flag) was made out of the very hemp that one had to grow by law if they were an original settler, and the very same hemp the State Dept declared in Dec 1941 was the second most essential resource we needed to win WW2.

Leonhart doesn't even know her own countries history.She has been too hell bent on destroying many GOOD peoples futures to worry about honest reflection or any honest soul searching.

Legalize Cannabis Freedom !

Why cannabis is illegal ...

1) Some people have very little knowledge of the plant and are therefore irrationally scared of it.

2) They like to lock people up and have an easy reason to do so.

3) Evil people don't want the masses to have the medical benefits of cannabis and its cannabinoids and to be healthy.

4) Cannabis hemp provides an alternative via bio fuels, cannabis oils, and many other products therefore reducing the need for crude oil and creating competition to petroleum products.

5) Prohibiton produces an underground monopoly on cannabis providing higher prices, bigger profits, and fewer competion to the cartels that sell it.

6) They like to scar people's records with mistemeanors and felonies trying to make life harder for people.

7) Prohibition provides big business for private prisons, lawyers, attorneys, police, judges, politicians, etc.

8) Medical marijuana programs create another form of monopoly by limiting freedom. Money made on doctor vists, cannabis cards, they only allow dispensaries in certain areas causing some people to travel long distances, and they only allow a select few to operate dispensaries. They make you pay a fee upfront to get a cannabis card and make you see a doctor and pay to renew it every year.

Evil people enforcing evil unjust laws.

Legalize Cannabis Freedom !

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