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LA Times Editorial Wonders About DEA Chief Michele Leonhart’s Stance on Pot

DEA's Michele Leonhart/dea photo

DEA's Michele Leonhart/dea photo

Los Angeles Times Editorial

When President Obama nominated Michele Leonhart to head the Drug Enforcement Administration last month, those hoping for a sensible federal policy regarding medical marijuana — one that promotes scientific research into its medicinal value and eschews prosecution when it is used in accordance with local laws — shivered.

As special agent in charge of the Los Angeles Field Division, Leonhart zealously cracked down on dispensaries (though, it could be argued, that was during the Clinton and Bush years, and she was adhering to White House policy). Then, in 2008, as acting head of the DEA, she denied the application of a University of Massachusetts botanist to cultivate marijuana for research purposes (though that too was in line with the Bush administration’s anti-science stance).

So what are we to expect now if she is confirmed by the Senate? Hard to say. Since Obama’s Swearing in, it has been unclear whether the DEA — which Leonhart has been running as acting administrator since November 2007 — is willing to abide by his administration’s verbal and written policy of not pursuing medical marijuana operations that do not violate their state’s laws.

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Time May 18, 2010 at 10:24 am

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