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Major Drug War Hearings In Congress This Week


drug war drug treatment centersThis week, both chambers of Congress will hold major hearings on the drug war. On Tuesday, April 29, at 10am there will be joint subcommittee hearing entitled “Confronting Transnational Drug Smuggling: An Assessment of Regional Partnerships”, held by the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure’s Subcommittee on Coast Guard and Maritime Transportation. These Committees will hear from General John F. Kelly, USMC Commander of Southern Command, at the Department of Defense, and Luis E. Arreaga Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, at the Department of State. On Wednesday, April 30, at 10 am, the Senate Judiciary Committee will hold a hearing entitled, “Oversight of the Drug Enforcement Administration”. The sole witness is the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), Administrator Michele M. Leonhart.

The hearings come against a backdrop of huge domestic change with respect to the drug war. In the past year, Attorney General Eric Holder has made a number of forceful public statements against mass incarceration in the U.S., promising significant rollback of mandatory minimums and harsh sentencing guidelines. The Obama administration, under the Department of Justice, announced last week that clemency and pardon guidelines would be expanded so that they apply to more nonviolent drug offenders. Similarly, there is much hope that the Senate will pass the Smarter Sentencing Act this year, which would drastically reduce mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses and make the Fair Sentencing Act of 2010 retroactive. In addition, the Obama administration announced in August last year that it would not challenge state marijuana laws, thus giving a limited “green light” to states like Washington and Colorado to pursue legalization. More states have ballot initiatives to legalize marijuana this year.

In the first hearing, General John F. Kelly of SOUTHCOM will come under pressure to explain recent statements at a Senate hearing in March, when he said that his agency had only 5% of the assets it needed to perform drug interdiction duties in the Caribbean region, and that “Because of asset shortfalls, we’re unable to get after 74 percent of suspected maritime drug smuggling. I simply sit and watch it go by.” The call for more drug war funding has been viewed with much skepticism by experts, especially given DOD’s mammoth $1bn annual counternarcotics budget, as well as a General Kelly’s subsequent appearance at a press conference where it was announced that the flow of drugs from South America to the United States had dropped by 62 percent since 2012. Kelly also claimed that partners in Latin America were “in disbelief” about marijuana legalization in certain states in the U.S., and wanted to “stay shoulder to shoulder with us in the drug fight in their part of the world”, a statement that is contradicted by the fact that Uruguay has also recently legalized marijuana, and other countries like Colombia, and Guatemala, and Mexico – close allies of the U.S. – have all expressed a desire to pursue drug policy reform and end the drug war.

“I hope that the Committee members are smart enough to see through General Kelly’s statements,” said Michael Collins, policy manager at the Drug Policy Alliance.  “There is a lot of positive domestic change happening with respect to the drug war, but unfortunately that hasn’t filtered through to the foreign policy and defense establishment. I hope this hearing will serve to clarify that the U.S. is scaling down when it comes to the drug war, not ramping things up.”

In the second hearing, DEA chief Michele Leonhart will likely receive challenging questions from Senators about the DEA’s troubling role in the drug war. Last September, a broad coalition of groups, including ACLU, Drug Policy Alliance, and Witness for Peace, sent a letter to House and Senate Oversight Committees requesting an oversight hearing on the DEA. The letter cited concerns about the DEA’s use of NSA programs to make domestic drug convictions, its role in killings in Honduras, its intransigence on marijuana policy, and other issues. A similar letter will be sent to Senators Leahy and Grassley in advance of Wednesday’s hearing.

“The DEA is way out of step with the Obama administration – and out of step with public opinion,” added Collins. “This hearing is an opportunity to hold the DEA accountable for its longstanding pattern of troubling behavior. From the secret use of NSA programs to make domestic drug convictions, to the killings in Honduras, to the obstruction of science when it comes to medical marijuana, this agency appears to have an antiquated mentality.”

Source: Drug Policy Alliancemake a donation


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Johnny Green


  1. Hmm. Sounds like they thought they’d always hold majority opinion, if that was their hiring policy. That was probably a mistake, given recent polling, which indicates people of average intelligence are dislodging the fence post, finally. I’ve always believed that a person of average intelligence will, at least, recognize the truth when it is given to them (or when they stumble upon it). No one goes from supporting cannabis law reform to NOT supporting it.

  2. LArcdeTriompheOnTiEsTo on

    Leonhart likely cries and cries about the terrible harms of pot and the dangers to her job and her cronies…then uses her Ipad which ABSOLUTELY has code in it that some guy in Silicon Valley who smokes an a44load of reefer wrote….so dumb and ironic it kinda makes you weep right along with her…

  3. LArcdeTriompheOnTiEsTo on

    The 2nd amendment fanatics see the gun issue like the population density hasn’t changed, at all, in 150 years. Gun violence is next to nothing in Japan and Sweden and the govt provides excellent personal measures of safety for its citizens, social contracts that most nations cannot match. Of course those people and those countries present models that we can never ever make comparison in the mind of a gunhead– those humans are just way too different. And yet the gunheads will cry, and say they must have their preSSHHHHHiousssss in order to defend themselves, even though the American police force is fairly responsive and much less corrupt than that found in many other nations. Sure, duck-hunting in South Dakota should be allowed every year but the legality or basic common sense of assault rifles in NYC has me supporting Bloomberg 100%. The Maryland gun dealer in another current gun control article was the PERFECT example of the danger these idiots present: They will literally feed on their own young if it keeps the gun in their hands.

  4. LArcdeTriompheOnTiEsTo on

    Well, I read somewhere, years ago, that these guys are always hired in the 100-105 range because any smarter and they start to question what the F they are doing, and any dumber and they cannot effectively follow protocol. It could be awry but it makes sense in concept.

  5. Honestly, I think you’re giving the human pit bulls too much credit. IQ is calculated based on age and actual population data such that the absolute “average” intelligence is exactly 100. Everyone else is above or below that in equal numbers. There are just as many 35 year olds with IQs of a 130 as there are with IQs of 70. As is the case with most things, IQ is a fairly normally distributed curve.

    Keeping that in mind, I’d say the human pitbulls …these creatures who will fight blindly and the religious ideologues who (both) cling to their fanaticism… With the exception of the guys pulling the strings at the top, the vast majority of those who bang those particular drums the hardest likely have IQs in the 80-90 range and lower. There’s a reason the political community refers to them as the “low-hanging fruit” of the voter population.

  6. Your example is flawed because you have to register your car, be licensed to operate a car, have insurance to operate a car in case of an accident, and they take your license away when you’re no longer fit to operate one. Why? Because cars are dangerous. But only as dangerous as the person driving it. Planes, trains, semi-trucks — those are held to even MORE stringent standards because the potential for harm is so much greater with those large vehicles.

    BTW — You can be a gun owner (like me) and not be a fan of gun violence. I own three hand guns, but I don’t have military grade weaponry and would gladly register my guns AND demonstrate my competence handling them to be licensed. People who think guns should be sold like they are now (with fewer regulations attached than dairy products) need to sort out their priorities. Weapons of war should only be owned and handled by those with the proper training to do so. That’s coming from a gun owner.

    The point of my comparison of statistics was to show that we actually DO have a problem with lethal drugs in this country if those drugs (that also can’t harm anyone without a person involved) which are designed to heal the sick are killing more people than devices DESIGNED to kill people, easily. That doesn’t make me anti-gun or against the 2nd Amendment. It makes me think we should do something to curb the potential for danger by having common-sense regulations (like we do with cars). Clinging to that “guns don’t kill people” mantra proves just one thing — you’ve bought a bill of goods, sold to you by corporate lobbyists who want to keep selling truck-loads of guns in the United States, unfettered. Nothing more.

    Read the 2nd Amendment and put it into the context of the Revolutionary War. The 2nd Amendment says “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State” necessitated the right to keep and bear arms. Basically, the 2nd Amendment was written to make sure the people can DO something in case the government got uppity and had to be put in its place, like we did when we were fed up being colonists lorded over from across the ocean, taxed without representation. Back when the only weapons of war were cannons and muskets, that made sense.

    So really, unless you want the right to bear F-22 fighter jets and nuclear weapons, the 2nd Amendment is antiquated, and needs a page 1 rewrite. It needs to be rewritten to allow for the right to bear PERSONAL arms, like hand guns, shot guns, and hunting rifles. Guns should be allowed for hunting, target practice, and personal home defense (none of those require an AR15 or AK47) and proper, common-sense licensing and registration of guns and gun owners. If you have to register in a database to own a car or be a medical marijuana patient (when cannabis cannot harm anyone), you should have to register to be a gun owner. Saying otherwise is ignorant.

  7. Can we not say “kill more Americans than “guns” being as that guns don’t kill people, people do, unless ur aware of some form of firearm that has been created that shoots people on its own when ever it feels like not to mention its an inanimate object as opposed to substances willfully taken into the body that cause deaths. I fully support the legalization of marijuana and all other drugs or at least the decriminalization of drug crimes, however as a full supporter of the 2nd amendment I feel that saying guns kill people is an unfair way to put it unless stated by some gun control freaks, if were going to put it that way then its only fair to say cars, planes, trucks, trains, etc kill people and thus should be treated with the same gloves that a lot of uninformed easily influenced persons would say that firearms kill people and need to be illegal.

  8. LArcdeTriompheOnTiEsTo on

    People it’s very simple— in the IQ range between 95- 105 you get human pit bulls …these creatures will fight while following orders, and in many cases the same people are also religious ideologues….you are challenging their fanaticism AND their LONG-running gravy train….did you know Mormons, far less than 5% in the US, are 40% of these groups? Wired mag 2012…they will do ANYthing, and I mean anything (“tooth and nail”, Romney’s own words), to keep their govt fighting with taxpayer money for THEIR causes– regardless of the vox populi and science.

  9. I understand why every one is pissed but let us not get hung up on hate and lets go back to what can we do to take her out of any office she my hold and fight fire with fire and make her back her facts. We know the truth my Brothers and Sisters!

  10. NevadaSupporter on

    Why hasn’t she (Leonhart ) been removed? At dome point don’t we need to cleanse ourselves of everything “Bush “? That should have been the first person fired.

  11. Yeah, Michele Leonhart a robot with a .01 megahertz processor, never expect anything intelligent to ever come out of her mouth.

  12. Oh, nice. The original letter included this as one of the reasons that they want the hearing. Hopefully it gets some time.-

    “DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart has on several occasions ignored science and overruled the DEA’s own administrative law judges on medical issues.”

  13. Let’s not forget the war on chronic pain patients, doctors and pharmacies.
    After all going after the lowest hanging fruit is the easiest way to justify your job. I will admit heroin is a problem, it kills slow, not enough research is done to examine why people use something so bad for you. Is an easy answer, that they can’t find any pot, and they don’t like alchohal? Wow fad I always like your post, your spot on

  14. Someone needs to take the DEA to task for the NSA stuff, especially the way they would encourage local law enforcement to fake “parallel investigations” to completely mask the use of the NSA data from plaintiffs AND prosecutors. That’s wildly illegal. Tampering with due process is a stark violation of the 5th Amendment. That’s just the DEA using our Constitution as toilet paper, however. There have been so many gross violations of human rights (not to mention basic human decency) that the DEA should be shattered into bits and cast into the wind, along with the ONDCP and the NIDA.

    That’s what I’d *like* to say — just chuck the DEA. However, the sad reality is that we NEED a Drug Enforcement Agency. Deaths from drug overdoses have outpaced both gun shot wounds and vehicle accidents as the number one cause of death due to injury in the United States with approximately 36k deaths, per year (15k of which are from legal, prescription painkillers ALONE). Meanwhile, cannabis hasn’t claimed a single life in recorded history.

    The LEGAL drugs that the DEA has always been so happy to reclassify and so quick to approve production increases are the drugs that kill more Americans than GUNS. We need a DEA — but they need to start doing the job they are SUPPOSED to do. Perhaps one of the MAIN reasons overdoses have overtaken gunshot wounds as the top cause of death due to injury is that the DEA has been screwing around, wasting resources on cannabis enforcement for the last four decades. They’re too busy arresting harmless stoners to be bothered to save and protect lives.

  15. the excerpts from these hearings should be interesting always love listening to michelle drugs are bad mkay lionheart…..the general will talk about all the coke he watches sail by……..

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