The DEA’s Leadership is Obsolete.

This article in today’s Boston Herald the author portrays the glee of the National Sheriff’s Association (NSA) over the statements made by Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) head Michelle Leonhart, statements such as these: 

“She said she felt the administration didn’t understand the science enough to make those statements. She was particularly frustrated with the fact that, according to her, the White House participated in a softball game with a pro-legalization group. … But she said her lowest point in 33 years in the DEA was when she learned they’d flown a hemp flag over the Capitol on July 4.”

There are many things wrong with both Leonhart’s unprofessional conduct and her statements at this meeting. First and foremost is her deliberate disrespect for the office of the President of the United States.  As someone who served in law enforcement I was trained to respect the chain-of-command. Private disagreements  and discussions about policy were valued and warranted.  But a childish outburst such as this demonstrates that Leonhart lacks the leadership skills or capabilities to effectively run an agency commensurate with the responsibilities of the DEA.

What is particularly churlish is that she resents a White House softball team playing against a team of drug-policy reformers. Maybe she realizes the government losing 25-3 last year to the reformers somewhat weakens her argument that marijuana is harmful to the health. 

As for her outrage at the display of a hemp flag over the capital, I would  remind her that industrial hemp products are legal in America and are not a sign of disrespect for law enforcement. What I find disrespectful is that she protects a system that endangers law enforcement by continuing to advocate for a policing system that does not work, while contributing to death, disease and addiction in our communities.

But what’s shocking is her disconnect from not just science, but the real world where she ignores published research,  and even statistics from the Center for Disease Control that points out that, yes, marijuana IS safer than alcohol. An example is this study conducted by Professor Robert Gable  where he measured the toxicity levels of multiple drugs that included alcohol and marijuana. His published findings reflected that “marijuana is about 100 times safer than alcohol or cocaine.”

So maybe it’s time to take Ms. Leonhart down memory lane and remind her about her own “not understanding science” with a link to her embarrassing testimony in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee in 2012. Her inability or refusal to answer the question of whether marijuana is less harmful than heroin, cocaine, or methamphetamine, despite evidence from even her own agency, is at best disingenuous at worst a sign of her incompetence. These examples reflect Ms. Leonhart’s leadership of the DEA is becoming increasingly obsolete as the American public recognizes the lies perpetuated by her personally, as well as our government, when it comes to the discussion surrounding the harms not just of drugs, but our drug policy.

UPDATE: If you agree, sign this petition.

About Diane Goldstein

Diane Goldstein is a 21-year veteran of law enforcement who retired as the first female lieutenant for the Redondo Beach Police Department, (CA). She is a speaker and Executive Board Member for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) and a member of the Moms United To End The War on Drugs Steering Committee. She is a guest columnist for a variety of publications as well as appearing on television , and on radio as a political commentator.