DEA May Be Losing The War on Marijuana Politics
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DEA May Be Losing The War on Marijuana Politics
Posted by CN Staff on July 12, 2014 at 06:21:51 PT
 By Evan Halper
Source: Los Angeles Times
Washington, D.C. -- For narcotics agents, who often confront hostile situations, Capitol Hill has been a refuge where lawmakers stand ready to salute efforts in the nation's war on drugs.Lately, however, the Drug Enforcement Administration has found itself under attack in Congress as it holds its ground against marijuana legalization while the resolve of longtime political allies — and the White House and Justice Department to which it reports — rapidly fades.
"For 13 of the 14 years I have worked on this issue, when the DEA came to a hearing, committee members jumped over themselves to cheerlead," said Bill Piper, a lobbyist with the Drug Policy Alliance, a pro-legalization group. "Now the lawmakers are not just asking tough questions, but also getting aggressive with their arguments."So far this year, the DEA's role in the seizure of industrial hemp seeds bound for research facilities in Kentucky drew angry rebukes from the Senate's most powerful Republican. The GOP-controlled House recently voted to prohibit federal agents from busting medical marijuana operations that are legal under state laws. And that measure, which demonstrated a shared distaste for the DEA's approach to marijuana, brought one of the Senate's most conservative members together with one of its most liberal in a rare bipartisan alliance.How much the agency's stock has fallen was readily apparent in the House debate, when Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) denounced the agency's longtime chief."She is a terrible agency head," Polis said of Administrator Michele Leonhart.The two had previously clashed over the DEA's insistence that marijuana continue to be classified as among the most dangerous narcotics in existence."She has repeatedly embarrassed her agency before this body," Polis said.Leonhart, who declined through a spokesman to be interviewed, is not getting much backup from the White House.This year, she complained that President Obama seemed alarmingly blase about what she sees as a pot epidemic. Her remarks to dozens of sheriffs gathered at a conference in Washington came soon after Obama told the New Yorker magazine that marijuana seemed no more dangerous to him than alcohol."She said, 'I am so angry the president said what he said and completely ignored the science,'" recalled Thomas Hodgson, the sheriff of Bristol County, Mass.Her remarks were so frank, Hodgson said, that another sheriff who had been attending such meetings for three decades interrupted Leonhart to tell the crowd what a risk she was taking. The audience then gave her a standing ovation, Hodgson said.Leonhart went on to complain about a softball game White House staff had participated in with marijuana advocates, and declared that one of the low points of her career had been seeing a hemp flag fly over the Capitol — a display Polis had requested.When Leonhart left, Hodgson said, she got another standing ovation.The enthusiasm from law enforcement agents suggests why Leonhart, a holdover from the George W. Bush administration, where she served as acting DEA chief, remains ensconced in her post even as more than 42,400 people have signed a petition demanding her resignation."The Obama administration has to walk this tightrope," said Sam Kamin, a law professor at the University of Denver. "The youth vote and a number of populous states are moving in one direction, and elements of law enforcement are not."He added: "These are people who have spent their lives enforcing marijuana laws. To say we are going to let the states decide what federal law is, is difficult for them to swallow."The DEA also is operating amid mixed signals.Many lawmakers think marijuana should no longer be classified among the most dangerous drugs, but they're reluctant to vote to change federal narcotics law. And despite cautious acceptance of state legalization laws by the White House, its enforcement strategy is ambiguous. The statutes that guided narcotics agents at the height of the war on drugs to aggressively go after pot remain on the books.After word spread in May that Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. had called Leonhart in for a private chat and admonished her to stop contradicting the administration, Rep. Frank R. Wolf (R-Va.) rushed to her defense.Wolf accused Holder's office of a "Nixonian effort to pressure a career law enforcement leader into changing her congressional testimony."Leonhart "has done an outstanding job leading this agency during a challenging time," Wolf wrote in a letter to Holder.But that view no longer commands a clear majority in Washington, as the agency repeatedly has run into congressional opposition.The usually unexcitable Senate Republican leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, reprimanded the DEA after it impounded 250 pounds of hemp seeds en route to the University of Kentucky from Italy. The seeds were to be used by researchers exploring the possibility of reintroducing the hemp industry in the U.S.Hemp, the fiber of a non-psychoactive cannabis plant, can be manufactured into clothing and numerous other products. One thing it can't do is make a person high. Nonetheless, the DEA deemed the seeds a controlled substance.McConnell said the agency was wasting limited resources on the seizure "at the very time Kentucky is facing growing threats from heroin addiction and other drug abuse."Amid political pressure and a lawsuit from Kentucky's Department of Agriculture, the agency granted the university an expedited controlled-substances permit.The hemp offensive bewildered even some longtime DEA allies."It is an unnecessary fight," said Robert Stutman, a retired director of the agency's New York division. "It doesn't affect the drug issue one way or another."The hemp case also irritated Kentucky's other senator, tea party favorite Rand Paul, who signed on to sponsor the Senate version of a House measure that would curb raids on medical marijuana dispensaries.A desire to rein in the DEA has kindled an intriguing political alliance between Paul and Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), one of the chamber's most liberal members, who is cosponsoring the measure.As the DEA has struggled with the politics of marijuana, it also has faced a spate of incidents requiring administration officials to clean up after agents.The Justice Department last year agreed to a $4.1-million settlement with a man whom DEA agents left handcuffed in a San Diego holding cell without food or water for five days. And federal investigators are looking into charges that the agency has been improperly collecting phone company data and concealing from defendants how the information was used against them.But neither those problems nor changes in public opinion have caused the agency to shift its ground. The DEA's latest policy paper on pot declares the medical marijuana movement, which has won victories in 22 states, to be a fraud."Organizers," it says, "did not really concern themselves with marijuana as a medicine — they just saw it as a means to an end, which is the legalization of marijuana for recreational purposes."Displayed prominently in the DEA Museum at its Arlington, Va., headquarters is part of a California dispensary that narcotics agents raided and shut down. It sits alongside the rebuilt front of a crack house.Source: Los Angeles Times Author: Evan HalperPublished: July 12, 2014Copyright: 2014 Los Angeles TimesContact: letters latimes.comWebsite: -- Cannabis Archives 
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Comment #7 posted by RELFVING on July 14, 2014 at 13:40:59 PT:
Petition for Resignation of Leonhart
Reading in this article that over 42,000 people have signed a petition for 
Leonhart's resignation, I went to look it up. I found several websites. This is the best one.
Everyone should jump and get on this petition. We very much need to replace her severely wrong thinking. Cannabis should not be classified with heroin, meth and other very harmful drugs. I hope very much the the FDA reclassifies it in the now present review.
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Comment #6 posted by potpal on July 14, 2014 at 06:35:23 PT
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Comment #5 posted by kaptinemo on July 13, 2014 at 14:12:58 PT:
John Tyler, they're preaching, alright
But the numbers of their usual congregation are dwindling as the Grim Reaper is cutting them down by the thousands each week. The numbers of people sitting in the pews in the Church of Prohibition are getting fewer each day.And very few members are joining that particular congregation. Mostly the sorts of people like Sabet and Kennedy. Who are generally shunned by members of their own generation as being too authoritarian for their tastes. in other words, they're on the social 'outs' for a reason: nobody can stand them.The more they lose, the more crazy and hysterical - and vicious - they'll get. And the more that happens, the more people will see the dangerous lunacy that was always just under the seemingly sane surface.
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Comment #4 posted by John Tyler on July 13, 2014 at 08:58:37 PT
changing times
I would like to note that my hometown very conservative newspaper ran an editorial last week advocating the reintroduction of hemp farming as a replacement crop for the declining tobacco market. The editorial went on to cite hemp as a valuable and useful crop in American history and mentioned George Washington and Thomas Jefferson as famous hemp farmers. This was very welcomed, but a surprising turnaround.Another thing… be on the lookout for a renewed prohibitionist PR campaign. The pharmaceutical companies and law enforcement lobbies funding this. Watch for talking heads like Patrick Kennedy and Keith Sarbet popping up here and there to preach their same old refuted sermon.   
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Comment #3 posted by kaptinemo on July 12, 2014 at 22:20:48 PT:
Another good sign: The LamesStream Media smells
blood in the water...and the sharks are on the way.It was bound to happen. I've been watching media coverage of the DrugWar for decades, and for decades the LSM had been nothing more than stenographers - if not outright tools - of the DrugWarriors. Goes all the way back to Barry McC's disastrous 1 Billion dollar boondoggle of a media campaign, where anti-drug messages were secretly slipped into popular TV shows in exchange for better rates on advertising. There's an old Scottish saying: "Once you touch The Devil, you can't let go.' The LSM did just that with the DrugWarriors, and became their 'bitch'. There's even a recording made surreptitously by Gen'rul Barry with arch-prohib (and arch-prohib dupe) Abe Rosenthal of the NYT. that shows just how contrived the whole thing was...and how much the media bought into it. That is, until (as Al Girodano would put it, 'authentic') journalist Dan Forbes, who never got all credit he should have for this, blew the story wide open, and the Government Accounting Office got involved. The GAO put the kibosh on ONDCP's program then, but that diodn't keep ONDCP from trying again a few years later. was later attacked by the ONDCP for daring to tell the truth: nothing could ever erase the fact that the LSM was made to look like the idiots they were for having been roped into this, while the alternative media took both the ONDCP and the LSM to task for having gotten oh-so-cozey with each other.So now? The LSM has been smarting for a long time for their having been shown to be suckers when it comes to the DrugWarriors. They got 'took', plain and simple, and should have seen it coming 10 miles away, but their greed got the better of them, and they wound up losing subscribers because for having pimped their integrity for 30 pieces of silver.Now, with the actuarial exit of Grammaw and Granpaw, and their ignorant views on cannabis powering political support for cannabis prohibition having less and less impact, and with the tipping point of cannabis re-legalization having been reached, the LSM is timorously, tremulously attempting to make itself relevant to the electorate that wants cannabis legal again. Hence this first tentative bite into the flanks of the organization whose arse they used to kiss.This has been a looooong time coming. With all the scandals the ONDCP and DEA have been involved in just these past 10 years alone, there's more than enough reason for a LSM feeding frenzy. Excuse me while I chop some more 'chumm' for the already red-stained water...
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Comment #2 posted by The GCW on July 12, 2014 at 17:38:26 PT
Lowly cannabis prohibitionists.
The worst people in Our country are the ones who would cage a fellow human for using what God indicates He created and says is good on literally the very 1st page of the Bible.Repulsive. 
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Comment #1 posted by runruff on July 12, 2014 at 08:34:21 PT
DEA, diggin' a hole!
The harder the battle the battle the sweeter the victory!We will have a "Good Riddance" party at their demise.We, without guns and violence, without billions of dollars and trained professionals will win this thing just like the minutemen of yore we will preserve and enjoy our hard fought freedom from all the Kings Men!Leonhart is the very definition of a skank! Skank-cloth is the very stuff DEA's are made of!
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