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DEA Head Chuck Rosenberg Resigns. Now Who Takes Over?

September 26, 2017
Obama-era appointee Chuck Rosenberg will stay in his post until October 1. (Alex Brandon/AP)
The Washington Post and New York Times have reported that Chuck Rosenberg, acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), will resign at the end of this week. The Times attributed Rosenberg’s departure to his growing conviction that President Trump “had little respect for the law.”

Rosenberg was no fan of cannabis. Two years ago he called medical marijuana 'a joke.'

Rosenberg, who will step down on October 1, was a holdover from the Obama Administration. He’s been running the agency in an acting capacity since 2015, when he took over for then-DEA Administrator Michelle Leonhart. Leonhart resigned over her mishandling of a scandal involving DEA agents and prostitutes. Leonhart had also disagreed strongly with how President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder handled state-legal marijuana.

Rosenberg moved over to guide the DEA after serving as chief of staff to then-FBI Director James Comey. Comey was fired by President Trump earlier this year, and the action did nothing to improve the relationship between the President and his acting DEA administrator. When Trump suggested that police “please don’t be too nice” when handling criminal suspects, Rosenberg rejected his comments in an email sent to DEA employees. “We have an obligation to speak out when something is wrong,” he wrote.

Not a Fan of ‘Smoking the Leaf’

The DEA head was certainly no friend of the legal cannabis industry. Rosenberg once allowed that cannabis was “probably not” as dangerous as heroin, while also stating that “marijuana is not medicine.” In late 2015, several patient advocates called for his resignation after Rosenberg called medical marijuana “a joke.”

Here are a few of his further comments during that 2015 Q&A with reporters: “What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal — because it’s not. 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.” Rosenberg added: “There are pieces of marijuana — extracts or constituents or component parts — that have great promise. But if you talk about smoking the leaf of marijuana — which is what people are talking about when they talk about medicinal marijuana — it has never been shown to be safe or effective as a medicine.”

Eight months into his term, President Trump has yet to nominate a candidate to head the DEA. While Rosenberg’s presence in no way prevented the White House from doing so, his absence may put a bit more pressure on the administration to fill the post. The DEA is an agency of the Justice Department, which is overseen by Attorney General Jeff Sessions.

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Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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  • innerG

    Not a Fan of ‘Smoking the Leaf’ … dude, that’s why trim gets made into extracts and edibles! XD

  • Gary Craig

    I can, almost, guarantee another hardline drug warrior will be put in place. This is a job Chris Christie would love to get. And his term as governor of New Jersey is almost done. It could/would then be “game over” for all “legal” uses of cannabis. And, sadly, AG Sessions isn’t going anywhere.

    • lovingc

      Yes he is, he has a five year stint in the stripy hole to look forward to for lying to congress.

  • We need a DEA that will bring the US into the times of medical marijuana and legalization of marijuana as a whole. We at minimum need to get senate and congress to allow the rescheduling of marijuana so studies can be accomplished for brain cancer, pain relief and seizure disorders. CBD oil is extremely medicinal and should not be scheduled due to hemp being legal in the US. The CBD oil that is derived from hemp doesn’t allow a person to become high,just relieve pain, fight cancers that are virtually impossible to cure with chemo or radiation, and stop seizures in their path. We as the people need to make a stand. We didn’t hire these people in, and we the people need to voice our opinion and outrage on anything that needs fixed.

    • Paul

      Everyone should know the difference between Hemp and Cannabis. See below.

      Hemp CBD vs. Marijuana CBD

      CBD is produced in both hemp/fiber variety and drug variety cannabis plants. Are they the same compound? Yes, but we know from numerous studies that cannabinoids such as CBD work best when other cannabinoids and terpenoids are present, a synergy termed “the entourage effect.” Hemp is virtually devoid of other cannabinoids and terpenoids. Also, industrial hemp contains very little CBD, necessitating a large number of hemp plants to obtain what can be obtained from one CBD-rich drug variety plant. The use of a large number of hemp plants also increases the risk of toxin contamination as hemp is a bio-accumulator, drawing up toxins from soil. (Fun fact: industrial hemp was planted around the Chernobyl nuclear power plant after the nuclear explosion in 1986). Most importantly, an excellent study from Israel in 2015 showed that whole-plant CBD, containing cannabinoids and terpenoids, was superior to single molecule CBD, with whole plant extract having a wider therapeutic window and better efficacy at lower doses. My clinical experience with thousands of patients confirms that whole plant CBD-rich cannabis is more efficacious than hemp-based single molecule CBD.
      How Should Patients Choose CBD Products?

      Be aware that there are a small number of hemp products on the market that are labeled “hemp” to comply with governmental regulations that require these products to have less than 0.3% THC, but they are robust with cannabinoids and terpenoids. Other products are devoid of all cannabinoids including CBD, despite the manufacturers’ claims. In 2015 and 2016, the FDA purchased a number of CBD products online and tested them for the presence of CBD and other cannabinoids, finding that the amount of CBD claimed on the labels was markedly inaccurate — some products did not contain any CBD. In states that have medical cannabis laws, it’s best to obtain products from licensed suppliers who share their test results, which should validate the product’s robust cannabinoid and terpenoid profiles. If you are obtaining hemp through online outlets, thorough research is required as there are many bogus claims being made.

  • marilynd

    I have chemical sensitivities and cannot tolerate most medication side effects, so I’ve spent over 50 years suffering with migraines and cluster headaches 3-5 days a WEEK. It was rough, to say the least. Since using micro-dosing (so I never feel high) with edible marijuana, the headaches have been reduced to about 10-15 per YEAR! So I can vouch for it indeed being GOOD MEDICINE!!!! Too bad none of these guys have the headaches so they could suffer and go through what I went through, and then experience the relief from medical mj.

    • stewdad11

      Thank you for sharing some of your story! Drives me absolutely nuts when anyone says Cannabis has no medicinal value! They don’t want to know the truth cause then they’ll know for fact they’ve been wrong this whole time! That’s why they won’t let us have more freedom to research Cannabis.

      • NoUseForANym

        He was talking about smoking/vaping the cured buds only. And he’s effectively correct. It’s not as efficacious as isolating the compound(s) you’re interested in because that way you ensure 1) content 2) purity 3) dose in a standardized way. I’m not sure why the fight for legalization has to include this new wave herbalism…especially this kind of ‘unfalsifiable’ herbalism. If you really have no way to effectively predict or control for, no matter how sophisticated your technique, a specific dose (so like xyz ug/mg per g/kg whatever) that is consistent in 100% of your batches, how do you ‘prescribe’ for different conditions? You can’t. You also can’t discern what it is that’s effective medicinally for different conditions. And to do that while also not providing the compounds that only produce side effects, but not the desired effect? No way. It takes at least SOME processing for some of that to be possible, and a lot of processing for most of it to.

        Hell, just look at the problems with herbal supplements being sold right now: In study after study, test after test, the supplements either don’t contain what they say they do at all, contain it at far lower doses than they say they do, or contain it at far higher doses than they say they do. There’s also problems with adulterants being found due to farming, harvesting or processing techniques, or just plain being added to the supplement. Even discounting unscrupulous business practices, and where there’s $$$ to be made, they’ll show up sooner or later, the simple fact is that it’s impossible to standardize a living plant.

        There’s plenty of other examples of compounds that start life as a plant. Digitalis. Opium poppy. Ephedra. Quinine tree. White willow bark. Belladonna. I mean obviously that list can go on for quite a long while. There’s a saying I’ve heard that there’s no such thing as alternative medicine. If it works, it’s medicine. But when you go to have surgery they don’t grind up roots and flowers to knock you out or treat your pain, and you wouldn’t want them to. For good reason. I am flabbergasted that weed is illegal, but cars aren’t. Or guns. Or alcohol. Or cigarettes. Or McDonald’s all day every day. Even more so the scheduling double standard! But I’m still not going to pretend that a nug and my antidepressant are equivalent and it’s not because one is more or less efficacious.

  • Bruce

    Rosenberg has never used it for pain and can’t comment on the matter unless he’s experienced the use for pain or allowed extreme and honest testing of Cannabis ! If the Pharmaceutical company’s don’t pay the Gov. to not even consider it on the first place! Cannabis would take a big chunk of money out of there bottom line! Also out of other products such as rope, clothes,cement and other such products not constantly talked about that would take a big chunk of profits from there bottom lines! That’s why it was made illegal in the first place! We were told it effect you as LSD and you would go down a rabbit hole. Not true! If the Feds would look at it in a positive aspect it would be one of the best drugs to help people with the Opioid problem. There is no addiction or side affect when using Cannabis that we know of as yet. There needs to be a lot more testing without prejudice. I’m a user of Cannabis as a patient of Fibromyalgia, high cholesterol and blood pressure. One of those pharmaceutical’s gave me pancreatitis! So now i’m doing fine managing the Fibromyalgia and back pains with out any side affects. That’s my story. With NO Pharmaceutical’s!

    • Richard Lindley

      Thank you Bruce! Cannabis vilification started in earnest with the movie ‘Reefer Madness’, and big cotton has always seen hemp as the enemy. Cement? really? I’d be interested to know the connection. Legalizing medical and recreation cannabis will have to be legislated not simply because it’s the will of the people, but because of the money i.e. look at the revenue increases by Colorado, Washington, Oregon. Taking money away from the drug cartels is a good thing except for the drug cartels. Taking money away from a lot of vested interests of big Agricultural corporations who then lobby elected officials who then write the law! There will lots of delays in getting legislation through as these blow backs from Reefer Madness propaganda era drag their heels in passing fair and simple laws that not only will mightily increase the coffers of both state and federal govs, but provide all of the benefits of this truly miraculous plant to individuals who are tired of paying big Pharma for their dangerous and addictive drugs.

  • So we will likely go from a person that is a borderline ignorant individual, that is some what behind the times and and far behind science. BUT trump will as he has in EVERY post that he has filled, interject the LEAST qualified person in the country to fill this post So we will go from ignorant to down right stupid. So all we can do is make our opposition heard then USE OUR SECOND AMENDMENT RITES to depose him. By that I mean to say trump as well as all his puppets. this is only just MY OPINION. Fight fire with fire power, and this is a trump strategy so it is completely with-in the realm of a just and proportional response.

    • Silverado

      So crooked Hillary would have been better??

      • This is your response to my statement? WOW .!. And yes HRC would have been better actually anyone would have been better them trump. So now I feel that I must clarify what the SECOND AMENDMENT RITES, are they are The Right to bare arms and according to the NRA that means everything that fires a projectile that includes military weapons as well. And as for HRC how many times has she committed bankruptcy? So by business standards trump is beyond crooked. And ignorance is the only reason a person would not know this as it has been going on since the early 1980’s. Look it up and triple source your info as everyone likes to add there spin. As an American you owe it to yourself to educate yourself the FACTS are out there, seek and ye shall find

        • hppyhippi

          You are a really dangerous idiot. The FACT is, Trump supporters will fire back and prevail. Better Trump than civil war. Hillary is also an idiot, which may be the real reason you support her. Bankruptcy is a tool of business which is used everyday by business. It is not a sign of being crooked. It is a lawful action by definition, FOOL. Lastly, Trump is pro medical marijuana and stated he supported it 100%.

          • snow_watcher

            Are you convinced that we aren’t headed toward a civil war?

          • Your response is totally expected And you sound like a good corporate drone. And I respect that and your inability to grasp the truth. So I feel that it is a wast of my or anyone elses time to attempt to enlighten you and those like you. As you got your opinion form somebody else without the benefit of reaching it for yourself. Like I asked people to do in a previous post. And what exactly is your experience in business? As my statements reflect my philosophy as to how to conduct myself and my business so that everyone that counts on me for there income will get all there remuneration for the things that they have done to advance my causes.This is why I have zero respect for anyone that asks the population at large to cover there debt. So know that as intractable as you are in your idea of reality. I am constantly researching so that I may be able to face my G*d after I exit this flawed existence.

            Best of luck to you and know that I pray for your sole.

          • David Ross

            You cast aspersions to those who oppose you like they are somehow inferior to you because you know about business? Let’s pick apart your arguement …….. YOU AREN”T EVEN SMART ENOUGH TO LEARN HOW TO SPELL! Bare arms are what is under your shirt! Rites are a formal or ceremonial act. Spell check is available on your computer, but you have to be smart enough to know that you spell /look like a buffoon without it. In my highly educated opinion, you don’t actually know a damn thing except that your candidate lost …… Get over yourself! Let the people who actually learned something in the 3rd grade hold an intelligent conversation!

          • Joseph Scott

            FRUMP, never got passed third grade, because, he is a
            “GOD-DAMN PSYCOPATH”

          • David Ross

            Never got past the third grade and he is a buisness mogul and a very rich man to boot ? ……. Have you anything of any value to add, or do you just spout fake shit because someone told you to. In the real world, we deal in facts, not stupid shit that you got from whatever flavor Kool-Aide is for the day. ……………… I could give two shits about the current administration, but this person that you claim has only a 2nd grade education was smart enough to whip Hillary’s at the polls. …………… That speaks volumes . You should just take your crying towel and go hide in the basement with your crazy Uncle for the next 7 years …….

          • David Ross

            A very rich, successful psychopath …… I have to ask you, Joseph, how many billions have you made with you highly educated brain? …….. That’s what I thought ….. and yes,I do want fries with that

          • Got to love teachers I apologize for the sp, Faux Pas. I have been struggling with all the bits that make up ADHD, since the 1960’s,but the one that most inhibits me is dyslexia. So by eugenics I should have been aborted, and teachers would not have to think actually teachers in early child development do NOT use there brains hence the rise in Alzheimer’s disease. I am surprised that you did not bi**h about the condition of my Punctuation. So probably
            NOT a teacher

          • David Ross

            Sure thing ! All those letters that you toss about so handily, Have no bearing whatsoever on you being able to use spellcheck. If you have been afflicted with all these letters for so long, why have you never taken the effort to learn to be aware of it and how to deal with it. It’s obvious that you aren’t anything but a keyboard commando. You spout poorly written aspersions, but whatever you write is obviously unintelligble of you wouldn’t have to keep explaining what you said there. Alphabet soup is no excuse. If you care so little, then what is your reason for commenting in the first place? …….. Go ahead sonny, keep spewing whatever it is that you want to try to say (unsuccessfuly, I must add) I’m sure that after your mom leaves for work (I bet you wonder how I know that) you can get back on the computer and pretend that you know something about actually running a business. …… Now that you have shown us all what youi REALLY are, we will continue to laugh and make fun of you for posing …….. It’s been fun, but I actually have a business to run. So ……. Bye, Felicia …..

          • stewdad11

            Thank you that was great! Lol That guy is annoying!

          • Joseph Scott

            Grow up, and stop beliefing this religious BULLSHIT, ALREADY.!

          • Exactly what religious shit are you referring?
            The bit where I said that I would pray for someones sloe?
            I could have said that I’d put the person in my mantra, would that meet with your approval ( something I could not care less about)
            In the US this is an accepted way of saying that we agree to disagree.

            But just for shits and giggles, when I “pray” I do so to ALL LIVING THINGS.
            Not the christians G*ds dad, that is the Popes gig.

          • Legalize420

            I disagree. I would rather civil war. Infact history as they say repeats itself and just like with the Brits we WILL need to fight to regain freedom as that’s long lost. In fact I’m already getting myself ready as should more people. I hate war but when everything is controlled by careless one sided people we just will keep going down sadly. It’s gotten worse and worse if you look at the status of things from the 1800s-2015.

            Noone ever even, considers the fact 3rd or other parties are just as if not MORE qualified especially in these times to hear the country. Bernie or when it was trump and Hillary I always heard “there’s only 2 choices and they are both bad”. So with more candidates why aren’t people choosing the more reasonable option of 3rd party? Brainwashed to ONLY consider main and toss others aside. I hope people wake up and stop making the same horrible redundant decisions(I wrote in Bernie’s name I won’t be placed in either scummy bracket. Simply accept the inevitable and prepare and stay on top so you are ready. There sadly in this life without pain there is no progression. I want a peacefully world as do we all but most of government now sadly is more concerned with reducing rights and freedoms and civil liberties than keeping them as well as bending for every type of person who is “stereotyped” or what not. We will sadly only progress through battle. I will die happily to stand for freedom. I know many others accept this also. It’s how we had it before people started really dismantling it in early 1900s. We need to stand together and accept difference and deny overt Authoritatian control which is currently in place. I can accept civil war might be a reality in order to regain rights and freedom as the current people in office, most are only for themselves and attack us through policy and laws, changing them, making our lives more controlled and less free to live than before. I hope it is while I’m still alive but until the majority can see through the clouds we will sadly be stuck here with people like trump or bush in charge and others running our lives based off their personal beliefs, and not whats best for society and being realistic about matters and not lie about everything. We all know the facts are skewed to fit whoever is presenting them most of the time. Very sad. I do not see any other way around this mess we are in.
            LIVE FREE OR DIE!

          • stewdad11

            He hasn’t done shit to help the industry! And the majority of people he hires are Prohibitionists! Only reason he said he was for Cannabis was to get more votes! His dumbass is going to be the reason why another civil war happens! Pretty soon were going to be the most hated country in the world! BTW I’m not a Hillary fan either. There both a bunch of dip shits!

        • Joseph Scott

          The nra is wrong, the second amendment does not mention automatic rifles, with full clips,
          Military weapons should not even be in local police departments,
          And as far as the “DOUCHEBAG”
          in the WH, he is a “CERTIFIED

          • Did I ever say that I was in agreement with the NRA, I my experience every time that I needed a weapon someone had one that I took from them, training is far more important to personal defense.
            Back to point the second amendment, it should upgrade with technology, at the end of the US Civil war the solderers got to keep there weapon(s) and horse if they were calvary solderers, so at that time war weapons were considered there right to own and use for protection. I must interject here that there was at that time more cause for protection.
            But as for the PSYCHOPATH, bit you could be right since I do not care what you think of me . So joke is on you.!.

          • Ted

            Full clips? You know nothing about firearms or the NRA.

      • lovingc

        Hell yes!

      • Tonya Masters

        BULLSHIT Hillary is against firearms and an over emotional bitch, that would probably be selling plutonium to North Korea and giving them classified information on how to build a nuclear weapon that actually works. Hell lets have another highly classified email covered up and erased. That’s how to solve everything . I have more respect for Snowden at least he wasn’t trying to cover up the classified information and lie about it also.

        • Steven J. Brock IV

          Tonya get in touch sbrock681 at gee mail dot come,

      • Joseph Scott

        Anyone would be better then that
        “DOUCHEBAG”, but we need Younger candidates, Bernie, Hilary and FRIMP, are to Fucking Old, we need an President in the mid forty’s.

    • lovingc

      Impeachment is coming, just look at all the friends he has made in congress, NOT!

  • picomanning

    Per article: The Times attributed Rosenberg’s departure to his growing conviction that President Trump “had little respect for the law.”
    Leafly, what’s wrong with that line? Holy Smoke, isn’t there any objective reporting anymore?

    • lovingc

      He was referring to Trump’s idiocy about roughing up arrestees. For that alone I give him props, but the rest of his career at the DEA has been a joke.

  • lovingc

    This idiot is stuck in the stone age. Nobody is smoking leaf anymore. But this man is far from the sharpest LEO. The idea that cannabis has no medical benefits is plane inane. 29 + states have determined that it does have medical use. Who ever Trump appoints ,if any one is appointed at all, will be worse for the country.
    It has long been proved that cannabis causes insanity in LEO’s and governments. Trump came that way.

  • FCN

    Just remember Jeff Sessions thought the Klan was a great bunch a fellows till he found out they smoked weed…..

  • Izzat So

    Adios Rosenberg – take the rest of the DEA with you as you head out the door.

  • Kelly Aynes

    I wish that self rightous asshole would have tried to tell me about what a joke medical marijuana is when I watch my grandmother die of asphugius cancer. She couldn’t eat or sleep no matter what we tried. The doctor off the record told us to try it long before it was legal form medicinal purposes. No matter what worked she could sleep and eat until the fnal stage ended her life. Why don’t people think about how what they say will effect other. Well this guy sure didn’t a s I hope he enjoys have one more detractor.

  • Mr Green

    The DEA enforces law, CONGRESS PASSES LAWS, they could pass it tomorrow and a lot of problems would be solved, people, children could get medicine to help them, jobs could be created, revenues collected, and most important innocent people, people of color wouldn’t be locked up. So why aren’t they doing it? Are they racist, do they honestly it will be the downfall of our society? I think tRUMP will be the downfall of our society.

    • werocuervo

      They aren’t doing it so CIA can continue their heroin/opium smuggliiing from Afghanistan, kind of like VietNam?