DEA Chief “Fighting Back” Against Obama Administration’s Lax Pot Policy (UPDATED)
President Barack Obama was elected to office in 2008 on a wave of hopeful anticipation that America was going to enter a new age. Frankly, much like the oft-scorned first Star Wars prequel, the expectations were so high that there was no way they could be reasonably met. Yes, President Obama has faced an almost unprecedented lack of cooperation from his opposition, but he’s also lost the fervent support of much of his base.
One such issue where the progressives feel a bit cheated by their supposed political messiah is when it comes to legal (at the state level) marijuana. President Obama has often said that his focus on drug-law enforcement is on more dangerous drugs, specifically heroin and prescription opiates. Yet despite this position the DEA has been raiding medical and legal marijuana facilities fairly consistently.
However rather than outright hypocrisy from the President, it may be that the President’s frenetic opposition isn’t just on the other side of the aisle, but within the ranks of the Administration. According to the East Bay Express, Drug Enforcement Agency Chief Michele Leonhart testified before Congress last week that her agency is “fighting back” against the President’s mandates.
While there is no video of the testimony as of yet and the DEA had not replied to my request for comment at press time, it seems the position of the agency will be that Leonhart’s testimony speaks for itself and that any talk of fighting back was against all illegal drugs and not the administration.
Still, along with her objections to legal pot—most of which seem to focus on the spillover from the states where it’s legal into states that it’s not—Leonhart also differs with the Obama Administration over mandatory sentencing. According to the Cannabis Financial Network, Leonhart said that she supports mandatory sentencing to “ensure the right sentences equate the right level of violator.” Something even GOP upstarts agree disproportionately target black communities and don’t do anything to fight the larger problem.
A spokesperson for the DEA commented via e-mail, asserting that they are not fighting the Administration’s instructions “to leave alone lawful cannabis activity in Colorado and Washington.” Instead, they assert the Chief Leonhart was merely talking about “fighting back” against drugs. The agency also says that it stands with the President in opposition to marijuana legalization.
“The fact is,” the spokesperson wrote, “DEA has never focused its efforts on marijuana use or low-level dealing, even before states—including as far back as California and Arizona in the mid-1990s—began passing medical marijuana laws.” Also adding, “DEA has always focused on large-scale trafficking organizations, and our operations in states where there are medical marijuana or legalization laws have focused on large organizations that violate both federal and state laws, consistent with DOJ’s direction to its law enforcement agencies and prosecutors in recent years regarding the use of their resources.”
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