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Drug Policy Alliance: DEA Chief Michele Leonhart Should Resign Over Defiance

Michele Leonhart

By Bill Piper
Director of National Affairs for Drug Policy Alliance

For months Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) Administrator Michele Leonhart has openly rebuked the drug policy reform policies of Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama with one embarrassing statement after another. Now she is picking a fight with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Y) and other members of Congress over hemp. Meanwhile the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector General has launched an investigation into multiple scandals plaguing the agency. It is clear that Leonhart lacks the ability to lead and should resign. Activists are using the Twitter hashtag #FireLeonhart.

The DEA created a political firestorm this week when it seized seeds bound for a Kentucky hemp research program that was approved by Congress. Even Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has weighed in, telling Politico last night, “It is an outrage that DEA is using finite taxpayer dollars to impound legal industrial hemp seeds.” The Kentucky Agriculture Department is suing the agency. The seizure is the latest misstep by the agency, which is being investigated by the Department of Justice for numerous scandals.

Earlier this month the Department of Justice’s Office of the Inspector Generallaunched investigations into numerous DEA scandals, including the massacre of civilians in Honduras, the use of NSA data to both spy on virtually all Americans and to systematically fabricate evidence, controversial uses of confidential informants, airline passenger searches, and sexual misconduct. DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart herself has been at the center of several scandals, including the House of Death scandal in which the DEA may have turned a blind eye to torture and murder, and the Andrew Chambers scandal, in which the DEA rehired a confidential informant with a history of lying.

Moreover, Leonhart is increasingly publicly opposing drug policy reforms being pursued by her bosses, Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama, and both Republicans and Democrats in Congress. She publicly rebuked President Obama for admitting that marijuana is as safe as alcohol, told members of Congress that the DEA will continue to go after marijuana even in states where it is legal despite DOJ guidance stating otherwise, and has spoken out against bipartisan drug sentencing reform in Congress that the Obama Administration is supporting.

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