As special agent in charge of the Los Angeles Field Division, Leonhart zealously cracked down on dispensaries (though, it could be argued, that was during the Clinton and Bush years, and she was adhering to White House policy). Then, in 2008, as acting head of the DEA, she denied the application of a University of Massachusetts botanist to cultivate marijuana for research purposes (though that too was in line with the Bush administration's anti-science stance).
So what are we to expect now if she is confirmed by the Senate? Hard to say. Since Obama's swearing in, it has been unclear whether the DEA -- which Leonhart has been running as acting administrator since November 2007 -- is willing to abide by his administration's verbal and written policy of not pursuing medical marijuana operations that do not violate their state's laws.
On Obama's second day in office, the agency raided a dispensary in South Lake Tahoe. Two weeks later, five clubs in Los Angeles were raided, prompting a rebuke from the White House. A few days later, the DEA raided a club in Fort Bragg, Calif. That prompted a speech from U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric H. Holder Jr. suggesting that federal resources shouldn't be focused on medical marijuana. In August, the agency raided more California clubs, and on Sept. 9, it moved against 20 in San Diego. Finally, in October, Holder put his directive in writing.