Best of AP — Honorable Mention


Top US drug agency a notable holdout in Biden’s push to loosen federal marijuana restrictions 

FILE - DEA Administrator Anne Milgram speaks during a news conference at the Justice Department in Washington, Friday, April 14, 2023. AP PHOTO / SUSAN WALSH, FILE

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Deep, fly-on-the-wall reporting by Joshua Goodman and Jim Mustian exposed how the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration was a glaring holdout in the Biden administration’s historic push to reclassify marijuana as a less-dangerous drug. 

AP’s lead based on anonymous sources took readers inside a high-level “Marijuana Meeting” DEA Administrator Anne Milgram called in March, where she warned top aides they were not allowed to take notes. Milgram would reveal that the pot reclassification process normally steered by the DEA had been taken over by the U.S. Justice Department and the action would not be signed by her but by Attorney General Merrick Garland.  

Goodman and Mustian, who helped break the initial pot reclassification for the AP in April, cited newly released documents and their own reporting to explain the possible reasons for the DEA’s holdout. They also interviewed several current and former DEA officials who told the AP they believe politics may be at play, contending the Justice Department moved forward with the marijuana reclassification now because President Joe Biden wanted to use the issue to woo younger voters in his re-election campaign.  

AP’s story, which included reporting contributions from Lindsay Whitehurst in Washington, drew swift reaction from two Republican members of Congress who wrote a letter to Milgram demanding she explain why she broke “decades of precedent.”  

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