Last week, it was announced that acting Drug Enforcement Administration Chief Chuck Rosenberg planned on stepping down over the weekend after being at odds with President Donald Trump after Trump said this summer that maybe police should be a little rougher with suspects when they are being put into police cars. To his credit, Rosenberg said in an email about the subject, “We have an obligation to speak out when something is wrong.’’
When it comes to marijuana, however, there is little to credit Rosenberg for. In 2015, he famously said that calling marijuana medical was a “joke.” “What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not,” Rosenberg said in a briefing to reporters. “We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine — that is a joke”
This prompted activists in the cannabis community and several lawmakers to call on then-President Obama to fire Rosenberg. Earlier this year, after a year and a half of clearly learning nothing new about cannabis, Rosenberg again disparaged the notion that marijuana can be medicine, saying he won’t buy it until the substance has gone through FDA testing — the same FDA testing that has approved dozens of drugs that later had to be recalled because they were too dangerous.
The bottom line is that the cannabis community won’t miss Chuck Rosenberg. But that begs the question: who will replace him? While some may think that there is little chance of someone more friendly to cannabis will be nominated, President Trump is nothing if not unpredictable. Time will tell who he picks and what criteria he uses to choose a suitable candidate.
“I hope that whoever is next will deal with the reality that a lot of states have legalized [marijuana] and it’s not a good use of resources for police to be arresting these people and ruining lives,” said Bill Piper, a senior director for the Drug Policy Alliance. “These are proven failed ways to approach this issue.”
In a perfect world it wouldn’t matter who took over at the DEA, but in this world the agency still has massive power over the cannabis plant, including choosing who is allowed to do research on it. Until federal law changes, who is the Chief at the Drug Enforcement Administration will continue to be very important to the cannabis community.