New DEA Head: Marijuana “Probably Not” As Dangerous As Heroin

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA: The new leader of the Drug Enforcement Administration said Tuesday heroin probably is more dangerous than marijuana, diverging in tone from his embattled predecessor.

Acting Administrator Chuck Rosenberg, a former prosecutor whose stance on drug reform is somewhat of a mystery, also said his agents are not prioritizing marijuana enforcement — though he’s not ordered them off it.

The statements, made on a morning conference call, were far from an endorsement of marijuana, which four states allow for recreational use and many others do for medical purposes.

“If you want me to say that marijuana’s not dangerous, I’m not going to say that because I think it is,” Rosenberg said. “Do I think it’s as dangerous as heroin? Probably not. I’m not an expert.”

How New Blood In Washington, DC Could Impact The Marijuana Industry

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Comings and goings by two top federal officials this week could have big repercussions for the burgeoning marijuana industry.

On Thursday, the Senate confirmed Loretta Lynch as U.S. Attorney General, five months after her nomination by President Barack Obama. Meanwhile, the Justice Department said Tuesday that Michele Leonhart will step down from her role as head of the Drug Enforcement Administration next month.

Leonhart, who is leaving amid a scandal over DEA agents engaging in sex parties with prostitutes supplied by drug cartels, is known to be a steadfast opponent of marijuana legalization who once refused to say whether or not she believed marijuana to be safer than crack cocaine or heroin. While Leonhart’s successor is unknown, her departure on its own is likely to be cheered by the emerging cannabis industry and proponents for the drug’s widespread legalization.

Meanwhile, Lynch, who will succeed Eric Holder as head of the Justice Department and the nation’s top law enforcement officer, is known to be politically liberal. But she is not expected to be as open-minded as Holder when it comes to marijuana legalization.


Marijuana Activists Cheer Michele Leonhart’s Exit From The DEA

DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA:  Drug Enforcement Agency chair Michele Leonhart was done in by her agents’ unsanctioned, cartel-funded sex parties in Colombia, but it’s marijuana legalization advocates who are excited to see her go.

“Hopefully this is a sign that the Reefer Madness era is coming to an end at the DEA,” said Mason Tvert, the director on communications at the Marijuana Policy Project. “Michelle Leonhart has maintained an opinion about marijuana akin to the opinion people had back in the 30s.”

As Bloomberg reported, Attorney General Eric Holder said a statement that Leonhart will step down in May, after a Department of Justice watchdog report found that several agents were involved in inappropriate behavior, and a majority of lawmakers on the House Oversight committee voted to express they had “no confidence” in her leadership. Given the chance, marijuana policy activists—opposed to her strict opposition to both recreational and medicinal marijuana—would have voted her out several years ago. Now, they’re hoping for someone who, like President Obama, is interested in a more science focused response to drug policy.