Senator Threatens to Block DEA Nominee Leonhart

Dec 02, 2010

DEA, Department of Justice, Herb Kohl, Jeff Sessions, Michele Leonhart

The Wall Street Journal reported yesterday that Sen. Herb Kohl (D-WI) will put a hold on the nomination of Michele Leonhart to be the next administrator of the DEA.

Kohl's beef with Leonhart has nothing to do with her views on marijuana issues, but rather the DEA's work in restricting access to certain prescription pain medications in nursing homes. Still, this represents the strongest opposition to date against Leonhart, who is currently interim DEA head and has played a crucial role in overseeing raids on state-legal medical marijuana collectives and denying applications to do FDA-level research on marijuana.

In recent months, MPP and many of our allies have protested Leonhart's nomination to head the DEA based on concerns over those above-mentioned actions and some less-than-thoughtful comments she has made about the worsening prohibition-fueled violence in Mexico. At her confirmation hearing, Leonhart, a Bush administration holdover, promised Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) that, “If confirmed as administrator, we would continue to enforce the federal drug laws” -- which directly contradicts last year's Department of Justice directive to respect state medical marijuana laws.

Despite those concerns, Leonhart's confirmation seemed all but certain, but Sen. Kohl now has the power to draw the process out for some time. Stay tuned for updates.