From President Obama to NYC Mayor Bloomberg, the authorities are still bent on keeping pot illegal.
In 1990, Los Angeles Police Chief Daryl Gates told a Senate committee
that people who smoked pot occasionally “ought to be taken out and
shot.” That kind of fanaticism, which dominated the debate on drugs 20
years ago, seems to have faded. Today’s politicians are more likely to
dismiss cannabis concerns as “not serious” than to rail against the
demons of dope—but the powers that be are still bent on keeping pot
illegal. U.S. cops bust an average of almost 100 people every hour for
pot, and an array of think tanks and nonprofit groups continues to pump
out prohibitionist propaganda.
Here are 11 of the worst—the most powerful and the most vehement.
1. DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart
A holdover from the Bush administration, Leonhart was formally
appointed to head the Drug Enforcement Administration by Barack Obama in
2010. The antiprohibitionist movement strongly opposed her, citing the
DEA’s raids on medical-marijuana growers in California—including one on a
69-year-old woman who had been the first grower to register with the
Mendocino County Sheriff.
As the DEA’s acting director in January 2009, she overruled a DEA
administrative-law judge’s recommendation and denied the University of
Massachusetts a license to cultivate marijuana for FDA-approved
research. “This single act has blocked privately funded medical
marijuana research in this country,” NORML head Allen St. Pierre said in
Leonhart often carries hardline views to absurd extremes. In 2011, asked about the drug-cartel carnage in Mexico, she told the Washington Post
that “It may seem contradictory, but the unfortunate level of violence
is a sign of success in the fight against drugs,” because the cartels
were fighting each other “like caged animals.” In June 2012, asked by
Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) if crack, heroin and methamphetamine were worse
for your health than marijuana, she repeatedly answered, “I believe all
illegal drugs are bad.” Asked if opioid painkillers like OxyContin were
more addictive than marijuana, she answered, “All illegal drugs in
Schedule I are addictive.”