Leadership of Drug Enforcement Administration turning over again

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The acting head of the Drug Enforcement Administration is stepping down, less than nine months into the position, raising fresh uncertainties about the Trump administration’s marijuana policy.

Robert Patterson told employees in an email Monday that the ability to chart the federal drug agency’s priorities had become “increasingly challenging” in his acting capacity, according to The Washington Post.

It’s unclear what the next DEA head’s stance will be on marijuana, but Patterson recently had taken a hard line.

According to The Hill, Patterson claimed during a hearing last month before Congress that he didn’t know about a highly publicized study in the Journal of the American Medical Association that found medical marijuana legalization is associated with declines in opioid-related mortality.

Also at that hearing, he said he was concerned the United States was “going down a bad path with marijuana” and too focused on cannabis as a revenue generator.

That position was different from that of his predecessor, Chuck Rosenberg, who had butted heads with U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions over cannabis research policy.

Rosenberg also served as an acting DEA chief, rather than a permanent one confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

Patterson, who worked for the DEA for three decades, told employees he plans to retire in about two weeks.