At an annual meeting of sheriffs last week, Michele Leonhart, head of the Drug Enforcement Agency, reportedly “slammed” Barack Obama’s recent impassioned call for everybody to get hiiiiigh. According to a report in the Boston Herald, Leonhart told the group that she was frustrated with the Stoner in Chief’s tolerance of state marijuana laws, and also had a fine old freakout over the fact that a flag made of hemp flew over the U.S. Capitol last 4th of July. She sounds like kind of a bummer, man.
The meeting was closed to reporters, but sheriffs who were in attendance said that Leonhart got a standing ovation when she rejected the president’s suggestion in a New Yorker interview that marijuana was no more harmful than alcohol — there was apparently no mention of his other comments about it being a “vice” and “a bad idea, a waste of time, not very healthy.” Because as any sane person knows, the only responsible way to talk about pot is to warn that it will make you murder your family in their beds.
One of the sheriffs at the meeting, Bristol County, Massachusetts, Sheriff Thomas M. Hodgson, was delighted by Leonhart’s comments:
“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. … But she said 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.”
Look, as we have said many times, we recognize that there are few things more annoying and boring than lectures from industrial hemp advocates who go on and on about the colonial navy and its hemp ropes, and just look at what a strong durable fiber it is. And we share Leonhart’s concern that it starts with a simple flag flown by a Colorado congressman, but can lead to tie-dying and to wearing Birkenstocks with socks. But lowest point in 33 years? It’s not like the flag was doused in patchouli or anything.
Hodgson said that most sheriffs share his view that marijuana is a gateway drug, and that Obama should stop giving kids excuses to do drugs: “The last person we need saying this to kids is the president of the United States.” Because telling kids that they’ll all become dope fiends has been such a rousing success so far.
DEA spokeswoman Dawn Deardon would not comment on Leonhart’s remarks since she was not in the room with the sheriffs, but said generally that “It is not a surprise that the DEA is against the legalization of marijuana,” and added that Press Secretary Jay Carney has reiterated that the administration is not in favor of legalization either.
Another sheriff, Donny Youngblood of Kern County, California, and head of the sheriffs’ group that sponsored the talk, had high praise (ha! ha!) for Leonhart, and shared her frustration:
“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.”
He also called Obama’s remarks “irresponsible” and a “big slap in the face” to cops who had given their lives in the fight against drugs, because yes, that’s exactly what Obama was getting at: He likes dead cops, and any suggestion that marijuana is less deadly than cocaine and heroin will kill cops.
Members of the reality-based community were apparently unavailable for comment at the meeting.
HuffPo has an update from DEA spokeswoman Dawn Deardon, whose name really sounds like she should be a reporter in a comic book:
“With regards to the Herald story, I think its important to clarify that the Administrator’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,” she said.