By now hundreds of thousands of people have seen that DEA chief administrator, Michele Leonhart, was grilled by a congressional committee about her stance on marijuana policy earlier this week. She eluded anything controversial that came her way. Something that has been overlooked though was that when she was asked about the efficacy of medical marijuana, Leonhart admitted she believes "that's between [a patient] and his doctor."
The DEA has always been at the forefront of raiding medical marijuana dispensaries and arresting and jailing medical marijuana patients and providers. The Obama administration has already authorized more raids on medical marijuana dispensaries than George Bush had in his entire presidency. But now we know that the head of the organization leading these raids thinks the issue should be left to medical professionals. Her comments scream hypocrisy and have outraged advocates across the country.
National support for medical marijuana has floated between 70-80 percent for years now, and for the first time, a Gallup poll found that 50 percent of the country supports legalizing marijuana for non-medical purposes. It's not simply a shift in budgetary necessity, but rather a philosophical shift in thinking across the country has led to this rapid increase of support.
A New York State Supreme Court Justice suffering from pancreatic cancer courageously came out about his marijuana use for medicinal purposes recently in a New York Times op-ed and has helped change the debate as well. Even politically savvy Democrats such as Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and New York Governor Andrew Cuomo have supported reforming marijuana laws recently. The irony of drug war bureaucrats being paid to lie and giving truthful and personal opinions can get you into hot water is so wrong on its face. The DEA needs to recognize the vast support for medical marijuana and end their crusade against people who are sick and find relief from a medicine recommended by their doctors, just like Michele Leonhart believes.
If you watch how hesitant Leonhart is responding to questions from Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Rep. Steve Cohen (D-TN), you can tell she gets paid to cover up any science showing marijuana is less harmful than other drugs or even helps people suffering from serious medical conditions. The intent of their questions was to get Leonhart to say something counter to DEA policy, and it worked perfectly. Just watch the videos and see for yourself.
Here's Leonhart getting grilled by Rep. Steve Cohen. Medical marijuana question begins at 4:05 mark:
And here's Leonhart avoiding simple questions about marijuana from Rep. Polis:
Derek Rosenfeld is internet communications associate for the Drug Policy Alliance.