Pot Advocates Hope New DEA Chief Will Sympathize With Their Cause


Marijuana advocates hope the departure of Michele Leonhart, chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) since 2007, will pave the way for more relaxed drug policies from the Obama administration, the Hill reports. Leonhart is leaving after an alleged sex scandal by some agents under her watch. “Hopefully, her resignation will mark the end of the 'Reefer Madness' era at the DEA,” said Dan Riffle of the Marijuana Policy Project. President Obama has suggested he could be open to more relaxed marijuana laws, at one point contending that pot is “not more harmful” than alcohol.

Marijuana reformers have criticized Leonhart for enforcing a drug policy that they believe is “out of step with the Obama administration,” says Bill Piper of the Drug Policy Alliance. Marijuana is listed among federally banned drugs like heroin. So even though many states have legalized pot, the federal government can go after pot violators. At a minimum, pot advocates would like to see marijuana moved out of Schedule 1 of the DEA's list of federally banned drugs so it can be studied for scientific research.

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