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Marijuana Activists Stunned Over Obama's Bush-Era Pick For DEA

The administration of President Obama has told federal law enforcement to stand down when it comes to raiding legitimate pot dispensaries in states where medical marijuana is legal. But last week the president quietly nominated Bush-era Drug Enforcement Administration official Michelle Leonhart to be the agency's permanent head. He announced the former L.A. DEA office head as his pick for the organization's administrator on a day when the press corps was focused on his first State of the Union address.

"President Obama signaled more of the same in drug policy by re-appointing Bush appointee Michele Leonhart as DEA administrator," states Dale Gieringer, director of the California chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. "Leonhart is unfondly regarded by medical marijuana advocates for having denied a cultivation permit to the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, further impeding research into the medical uses of cannabis. Her re-appointment indicates that the administration has no interest in overruling the present indefensible policy.

Pot people are pissed. Leonhart "was the deputy administrator under Karen Tandy when Tandy conducted under the Bush administration essentially scores of raids on medical marijuana dispensaries, probably over 200," Kris Hermes, a spokesman for the Oakland-based Americans for Safe Access, told the Bay Area News Group.

But there's no overt indication the nomination is a return to the Bush-era federal investigations and busts of medical marijuana collectives. In a statement Obama praised Leonhart's "skill and dedication."


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