DEA spokesperson Dawn Dearden told TPM in an email that she could not confirm Leonhart's comments but she said that the DEA chief was discussing the DEA's stance on marijuana legalization.
"I was not at the conference when the Administrator made her remarks so I can't confirm the specifics," Dearden said. "But I can tell you her remarks were not a challenge to the President. They were statements against legalization, which the DEA and the Administration do not support."
Leonhart was also reportedly unhappy that Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) got approval last year to fly a hemp flag over the Capitol on July 4.
Leonhart got a standing ovation from sheriffs at the meeting for expressing disappointment with Obama's statement, Kern County, Calif., Sheriff Donny Youngblood told the Herald.
"This is a woman who has spent 33 years of her life fighting drug abuse in the DEA, her entire life. To have the president of the United States publicly say marijuana was a bad habit like alcohol was appalling to everyone in that room," Youngblood said. "I think the way that she felt was that it was a betrayal of what she does for the American people in enforcing our drug laws. ... She got a standing ovation."