New acting Drug Enforcement Administration chief appointed

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The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday announced that the new acting administrator of the Drug Enforcement Administration will be Robert W. Patterson, a career DEA official who started with the agency in 1988.

Patterson – the principal deputy administrator of the DEA since November 2016 – replaces outgoing DEA head Chuck Rosenberg, who tendered his resignation last week.

The DEA has been without a permanent director since Michele Leonhart left the job of administrator in 2015. After that, Rosenberg took on the job of “acting administrator” and wound up staying on until he announced his departure at the end of September.

The DOJ announced in a news release that Patterson was given the same “acting administrator” title as Rosenberg.

Whether that’s an indication his assignment may be temporary is unclear, but the release noted that Patterson is “the highest-ranking career special agent at the DEA.”

The release did not mention any particular policy stance Patterson may have toward cannabis.

According to the release, Patterson has “a reputation as an expert on transnational criminal networks, narcotics trafficking and trends, as well as governing policy and agency oversight matters.”