Michele Leonhart

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Michele Leonhart
Michele Leonhart official photo.jpg
Administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency
Elections and appointments
NominatedFebruary 2, 2010
ConfirmedDecember 22, 2010
Appointed byBarack Obama
Prior offices
Acting Administrator of the DEA
Deputy Administrator of the DEA
Special Agent in Charge of Los Angeles Field Division for the DEA
Bachelor'sBemidji State University
Office website
Michele M. Leonhart is the current administrator of the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). She was confirmed by the U.S. Senate on October 22, 2010, by a vote of unanimous consent.[1] She is the first female career federal agent to direct a federal law enforcement agency.[1]

Leonhart began her career with the DEA in 1980 as a special agent.[2] Before starting with the DEA, she was a Baltimore City Police Officer.[3]


Leonhart was raised in Minnesota and earned a degree in Criminal Justice from Bemidji State University before beginning her career in law enforcement.[2]


Below is an abbreviated outline of Leonhart's academic, professional and political career:[2][3]

  • 1978: Graduated from Bemidji State University in Minnesota
  • 1978-1980: Baltimore City Police Officer
  • 1980-1995: Special Agent for the DEA
  • 1995-1996: Asst. Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Division for the DEA
  • 1996-1997: Recruiter for DEA Headquarters
  • 1997-1998: Special Agent in Charge of the San Francisco Field Division for the DEA
  • 1998-2003: Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Field Division for the DEA
  • 2004-2007: Deputy Administrator of the DEA
  • 2007-2010: Acting Administrator of the DEA
  • 2010-Present: Administrator of the DEA

Confirmation vote

Leonhart was confirmed by the Senate on December 22, 2010, by a vote of unanimous consent.[1]


Views on marijuana

Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) questions Leonhart at a congressional hearing in 2012.

Reps. Jared Polis (D-CO) and Steve Cohen (D-TN) questioned Leonhart in 2012 on the dangers of marijuana use compared to drugs such as heroin, cocaine and methamphetamines, in part because Leonhart stated she would not support the Obama administration's announcement that federal agencies would not target medical marijuana users and dispensaries operating legally under state and local laws.[4][5]

On January 22, 2014, Leonhart took issue with statements made by President Barack Obama about marijuana in an interview. His statements included, "I don't think it is more dangerous than alcohol." Obama continued, "We should not be locking up kids or individual users for long stretches of jail time when some of the folks who are writing those laws have probably done the same thing."[6][7] While speaking to a group of sheriffs at the Major County Sheriffs' Association in Washington, D.C., Leonhart "condemned" the president's remarks on marijuana and was received well by the group. Following the event, the Marijuana Policy Project started an online petition to have President Obama fire Leonhart from her position as DEA Administrator.[6] Rep. Jared Polis re-iterated his frustrations with Leonhart, stating he "found her to be completely incompetent and unknowledgeable." In a similar statement, Rep. Steve Cohen suggested "the honorable thing to do would be to assume a Japanese posture and resign."[6]


Leonhart is married with two children.[2]

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See also

External links

Official website of the DEA