Testifying before a House subcomittee yesterday, the head of the Drug Enforcement Administration warned that marijuana legalization is bad for dogs. DEA Administrator Michele Leonhart was not talking about the pot-sniffing canines who are out of work in Colorado and Washington now that the odor of cannabis is no longer probable cause for a search. She was talking about pets that ingest marijuana-laced snacks:
There was just an article last week, and it was on pets. It was about the unanticipated or unexpected consequences of this, and how veterinarians now are seeing dogs come in, their pets come in, and being treated because they’ve been exposed to marijuana. Again, it goes back to the edibles; it goes back to products that are in the household that are now made from marijuana, and it’s impacting pets. We made a list of the outcomes we thought that might happen in these two states. We never thought of putting pets down.
Evidently Leonhart read a recent USA Today story in which Colorado veterinarians worry that “the increasing availability of marijuana appears to be driving an increase in pot-poisoned pets.” Poisoned is a rather misleading term in this context, since “the marijuana itself isn’t particularly harmful to dogs.” The main concern is that marijuana, an anti-emetic, will make dogs less likely to vomit potentially dangerous foods into which it has been infused, such as butter and chocolate. According to a study by Colorado State veterinarian Tim Hackett, two dogs have “died from eating large amounts of marijuana-infused butter” since 2000, when Colorado legalized marijuana for medical use. That’s one dog death every seven years. Still, marijuana legalization clearly is bad for dogs.
Michelle Leonhart and the scandal that wasn’t
April 8, 2014 DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart, addressing a law-enforcement conclave last month, expressed misgivings about the Obama Administration’s supposedly lenient approach towards marijuana. Pro-cannabis activists were shocked at this level of insubordination, and said that Obama now had grounds for firing her. Officially, the DEA is under the Justice Department, which is headed by Attorney General Eric Holder.
The activists were shocked because they trusted Obama despite his actual record. Leonhart was appointed Acting DEA Administrator in the last week of George Bush’s reign. She could have and should have been fired as soon as Obama came in. She should have been fired again, a few months into her tenure, when she spent $123,000 (taxpayer dollars) on a private-sector flight to a conference in Colombia when the DEA has a huge fleet of jets. Rachel Maddow, who had not yet become a total mouthpiece for the Democratic National Committee, described Leonhart’s wasteful self-indulgence. I wrote a Counterpunch piece about it but nobody picked up the story.
Flash forward to April 3, 2014 —year two of Obama’s second term— when Jacob Sullum posted this note about Leonhart:
Shades of the 1937 hearing at which the House Ways and Means Committee “debated” the original marijuana prohibition bill. Harry Anslinger would be proud of his successor, Michelle Leonhart.