Congressman Demands Change at DEA: Medical Marijuana Is No ‘Joke’


A member of Congress who is leading the fight to reform federal marijuana laws took to the House floor on Wednesday morning and called for the head of President Obama’s top drug war official.

In the speech, Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) added his voice to tens of thousands of others that have demanded the firing or resignation of Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), following his description of medical marijuana as a “joke.”

More than 90,000 people have signed a petition demanding Rosenberg’s ouster.
“What is a joke is the job Rosenberg is doing as acting DEA administrator,” Blumenauer said. “He is an example of an inept, misinformed zealot who has mismanaged America’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”

The petition calling for Rosenberg’s firing was uploaded by the organization Marijuana Majority less than two weeks ago and already has more signatures than an earlier one that helped lead to the resignation of previous DEA administrator Michele Leonhart, who also opposed medical marijuana.

(Full disclosure: The author of this article is the founder of Marijuana Majority.)

Rosenberg’s comments are a “throwback ideology rooted in the failed war on drugs, which needs to stop,” Blumenauer said. “This culture needs to change.

Leadership needs to change. Rosenberg is clearly not the right fit for the DEA in this administration.”

The congressman has sponsored and signed on to numerous marijuana policy reform proposals, including a measure that would prevent DEA from spending money to interfere with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. He has also sponsored legislation to allow military veterans to more easily access medical cannabis by working with their doctors at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

“I would hope that the president directs the heads of all relevant agencies to adjust their policies, clarify regulations that deal with marijuana laws, establish policies that reflect changing state laws and, most important, reflect the president’s own position,” Blumenauer said, referring to President Obama’s saying his administration has “bigger fish to fry” than going after low-level marijuana offenders.

“It’s time that the rest of his administration gets on board, and it should start with a new head of” DEA, Blumenauer said.

See video of his floor speech demanding change at the DEA here.

Lawmakers Tell Obama to Fire DEA Head Over Marijuana Comments

A bipartisan group of members of Congress sent a letter to President Obama on Thursday demanding that he fire DEA head Chuck Rosenberg for calling medical marijuana a “joke.”

Rosenberg’s “statements are indicative of a throwback ideology rooted in the failed War on Drugs,” the lawmakers, led by Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), wrote. “They do not reflect the overwhelming body of testimonial evidence, reforms happening across the country at the state level and in Congress, or the opinion of the American people – and they certainly don’t reflect statements you’ve made or actions you’ve directed your agencies to take. Rather, these statements demonstrate Mr. Rosenberg is not the right person to lead the DEA.”

The letter follows an impassioned floor speech Blumenauer delivered on Wednesday in which he called Rosenberg “an inept, misinformed zealot who has mismanaged America’s failed policy of marijuana prohibition.”

Joining Blumenauer in signing the new letter are Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Sam Farr (D-CA), Barbara Lee (D-CA), Ted Lieu (D-CA) and Jim McDermott (D-WA).

They wrote that Rosenberg’s comments “send a clear signal to the American people that the federal government isn’t listening to them. It erodes trust.

Cavalier statements like these fly in the face of state policy and the experience of millions of patients. Over 75 percent of the public supports allowing for the use of medical marijuana if recommended by a physician and surveys have found that a majority of physicians also support legalizing medical marijuana.”

The letter comes after nearly 100,000 people signed a petition decrying Rosenberg’s comments and calling for him to be fired or resign.

“Through his statements, Mr. Rosenberg has demonstrated he is not the right person to hold the job as head of the DEA and we urge you to find new leadership that can work to develop the right tools to properly rationalize our treatment of marijuana,” the members of Congress wrote to the president.

A group of medical marijuana patients has announced that they will deliver printed copies of the petition to DEA headquarters on Friday.

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