Cohen Among Congressmen Urging Obama to Pick ‘Progressive DEA Chief’

Press release from U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn. 09; May 1, 2015:

Polis, Cohen, Blumenauer Lead Letter Urging White House to Choose Progressive DEA Chief

WASHINGTON, DC —Today, Representatives Jared Polis (D-CO), Steve Cohen (D-TN), and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) sent a letter to President Obama urging him to nominate a new Drug Enforcement Administration chief that has a more progressive approach to federal drug enforcement. Barbara Lee (D-CA),  Sam Farr (D-CA), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), and Eric Swalwell (D-CA) also joined in sending the letter.

The Representatives urged the President to nominate a DEA Administrator who is willing to work with state and federal officials to create policies that work with­—not against­­—the evolving landscape of state marijuana laws. The letter states that retiring DEA director Michele Leonhart placed too great an emphasis on prosecuting marijuana use and not enough on drug-related activity that truly poses a public-safety risk.

“The DEA plays a critical role in promoting the health and safety of Americans. But to succeed in its mission, it must refocus its efforts on cracking down on bad actors who seek to evade state laws rather than those who abide by them,” the Representatives wrote. “All of us share a commitment to keeping drugs out of the hands of children, diminishing the reach of criminal cartels, and helping individuals who are addicted to drugs find the help they need to turn their lives around.

“To accomplish these aims, the DEA must end its resistance to the changing public consensus on marijuana use and stop expending its limited resources to prosecute individuals who are not a threat to public safety and, instead, focus on drug activity that poses a more serious risk,” they added.

Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have legalized marijuana use in some form. Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Alaska, and Washington, D.C. have legalized marijuana for adult use, with many states poised to join them in 2015.

The full text of the letter is attached.