Is DEA Losing White House, Congressional Backing On Marijuana Policy?


For narcotics agents, Capitol Hill has been a refuge where lawmakers salute efforts in the nation’s war on drugs, says the Los Angeles Times. 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 of the pro-legalization Drug Policy Alliance. “Now the lawmakers are not just asking tough questions, but also getting aggressive with their arguments.”

This year, the DEA’s role in the seizure of industrial hemp seeds bound for research facilities in Kentucky drew rebukes from the Senate’s most powerful Republican. The GOP-controlled House voted to prohibit federal agents from busting medical marijuana operations that are legal under state laws. That measure, which demonstrated a distaste for the DEA’s approach to marijuana, attracted a rare bipartisan alliance. DEA Adminisrator Michele Leonhart has complained that President Obama seemed alarmingly blase about what she sees as a pot epidemic. Her remarks to dozens of sheriffs came soon after Obama told the New Yorker magazine that marijuana seemed no more dangerous to him than alcohol.

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