Amendments Would Prohibit DEA from Undermining State Marijuana Laws; Shut Down DEA’s Controversial Bulk Collection Surveillance Programs; Cut Agency’s Budget
Amendments Come in Wake of Recent Forced Resignation of Agency’s Head, Michele Leonhart
As the U.S. House of Representatives considers the Fiscal Year 2016 Commerce, Justice, and Science Appropriations bill today and tomorrow, legislators could vote on at least seven amendments designed to reduce the power of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and cut its budget.
The DEA has existed for more than 40 years, but little attention has been given to the role the agency has played in fueling mass incarceration, racial disparities and other problems exacerbated by the Drug War. Congress has rarely scrutinized the agency, its actions or its budget, instead deferring to DEA administrators on how best to deal with drug-related issues.
That all has changed recently after a series of scandals that sparked several hearings in the House and Senate and forced the resignation of the DEA’s beleaguered head, Administrator Michele Leonhart.
“There’s unprecedented support on both sides of the aisle for ending the federal war on marijuana and letting states set their own drug policies based on science, compassion, health, and human rights,” said Bill Piper, director of national affairs for the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA). “The more the DEA blocks sensible reforms the more they will see their agency’s power and budget come under deeper scrutiny.”