While the domestic War on Drugs has been supported for nearly four decades by Michele Leonhart, it appears as though some of her misguided policies, mostly those rooted in Reagan’s anti-reefer regime, may finally come crashing down with the recent appointment of the new leader of the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Earlier last week, the Justice Department announced that Chuck Rosenberg, who served as chief of staff to the director of the FBI, would be stepping in to replace Leonhart as the administrator of the DEA. Attorney General Loretta Lynch called Rosenberg an “exceptional leader” with “unshakable integrity” in a statement regarding his appointment, yet proponents of pot reform have been left wondering whether the change will be for better or worse.
Although there was speculation that the person ultimately charged with protecting the integrity of the Controlled Substances Act would not deter from the agencies ancient handbook of shakedowns and other underhanded tactics aimed at locking away the average citizen with a love for the leaf, a recent report from the Los Angeles Times indicates that Rosenberg will not place a heavy emphasis on indiscretions associated with marijuana.
Instead, Rosenberg, who will serve as the DEA’s acting administrator until the next presidential administration takes the reins, is expected “to improve the DEA’s procedures on classifying, declassifying and reclassifying drugs,” by focusing less on the enforcement of marijuana laws and more on the scourge of heroin and other dangerous narcotics, according to the Times.
Although it is too early to tell whether the new DEA chief will swoop in and actually sink his teeth into the Obama Administration’s attempt at allowing states the right to reform their marijuana laws without federal interference, there is a relatively good chance that he will work to repair some of the damage done under Leonhart’s command. After all, her strongly suggested retirement, which followed a recent scandal involving DEA agents fraternizing with cartel-funded prostitutes, is likely a welcomed weight off the shoulders of government officials who have struggled for years with her one dimensional perception of the cannabis plant.
Marijuana activists, like those involved with the Drug Policy Alliance, an organization that, just last week, placed a satirical help wanted ad in an edition of Roll Call searching for a new DEA chief, say they are cautiously optimistic about Rosenberg’s intentions.
“Let’s hope he’s in line with the political consensus in favor of scaling back mass incarceration and the worst harms of the drug war,” said Bill Piper, DPA director of national affairs.