The chief of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Michele M. Leonhart, received a standing ovation at the National Sheriffs’ Association’s annual meeting after she slammed President Obama for saying that marijuana is no more dangerous than alcohol.
In an interview with The Boston Herald, Bristol County Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson said he was “thrilled” at how upset the DEA head was.
“She’s frustrated for the same reasons we are,” Hodgson said. “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.”
According to Hodgson, Leonhart communicated to the sheriffs that “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. The sheriffs were all shocked. This is the first time in 28 years I’ve ever heard anyone in her position be this candid.”
Kern County Sheriff Donny Youngblood, the president of the group that sponsored Leonhart’s talk, commended her for “calling out” the president’s “irresponsible” comments.
“This is a woman who has spent 33 years of her life fighting drug abuse in the DEA, her entire life. To have the president of the United States publicly say marijuana was a bad habit like alcohol was appalling to everyone in that room,” Youngblood said. “I think the way that she felt was that it was a betrayal of what she does for the American people in enforcing our drug laws. She got a standing ovation.”
The president of the National Sheriffs’ Association, Mike Leidholt, said that although he hadn’t heard her speech, he thought it was “brave.”
“She was honest,” Leidholt said. “She may get fired, but she was honest.”
DEA spokeswoman Dawn Deardon said in an email that Leonhart’s remarks “were not at against the President, as the story portrays, but continued messages that the DEA is not in support of legalization — and neither is the Administration.”
Scott Eric Kaufman is the proprietor of the AV Club's Internet Film School and, in addition to Raw Story, also writes for Lawyers, Guns & Money. He earned a Ph.D. in English Literature from the University of California, Irvine in 2008.
Raw Story is a progressive news site that focuses on stories often ignored in the mainstream media. While giving coverage to the big stories of the day, we also bring our readers' attention to policy, politics, legal and human rights stories that get ignored in an infotainment culture driven solely by pageviews.
Founded in 2004, Raw Story reaches 9 million unique readers per month and serves more than 30 million pageviews.