Tony Newman at 646-335-5384 or Bill Piper at 202-669-6430
Last Friday federal agents raided and shut down a medical marijuana provider in Colorado, despite a directive issued last year by President Obama and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder to not arrest or prosecute patients, caregivers, and dispensary owners who are in compliance with their state’s medical marijuana law. Jeffrey Sweeting, the DEA special agent in charge of the DEA’s Denver office, defiantly told The Denver Post, “[Medical marijuana is] still a violation of federal law. It’s not medicine. We’re still going to continue to investigate and arrest people.”
“The DEA is defying a clear directive not just from the Attorney General but our nation’s Commander-in-Chief,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance. “President Obama needs to step up and take immediate action, otherwise federal agencies will continue to defy him.”
Medical marijuana proponents, and others who don’t want the federal government wasting taxpayer money arresting sick people and their caregivers, are concerned that President Obama has nominated Michele Leonhart to head the DEA. Leonhart, a George W. Bush appointee and current acting director of the DEA, not only coordinated medical marijuana raids under Bush, but also overruled the DEA’s own administrative law judge and blocked scientific research on marijuana’s medicinal properties from moving forward. Drug policy reformers see her nomination to the top DEA position as one of President Obama’s biggest drug policy mistakes.
“Michele Leonhart is a die-hard opponent of science, a Bush crony, and in terms of hostility to reform, basically former Attorney General John Ashcroft’s mini-me,” said Piper. “President Obama needs DEA nominee Leonhard to know that she has a new boss and new orders.”