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The Coming Surge in the Drug War

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The Trump administration’s change of mind about appointing U.S. Rep. Tom Marino to lead the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) reflects a change of opinion about personnel rather than policy.

The policy is revealed through their efforts to unleash the Dogs of War, and even if Marino is no longer a leading candidate to run ONDCP, his selection, along with other anti-drug hardliners, reflects the Trump administration’s tendency to revisit and return to Richard Nixon’s old-time War on Drugs rhetoric and policies.


Think about it, why even consider a reactionary like Marino to be the Drug Czar unless Trump’s advisors were preparing for a general onslaught on the drug policy reforms of the last decade?

The Trump presidency has been notoriously inept in staffing the upper levels of the federal bureaucracy, but this can be interpreted as a result of willful policy implementation as well as a sign of administrative inexperience.

In other words—there are reasons why the drug war appointments made so far have been made. These are their types of people.

It’s looking more and more like the Trumpsters have figured out there is not much they can do about state-level marijuana legalization, at least according to Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper. On the other hand, Chris Christie has been chosen by Trump to lead efforts to combat the opiate-overdose crises.

Christie, as reported in High Times, believes that marijuana is an attempt by Democrats to “poison our kids.”

“If people . . . want to bring this poison into the state under the guise that it doesn’t matter because people can buy it illegally anyway, then why not legalize heroin?” Christie asked, according to

Sound familiar? It’s an old refrain.

Marijuana and heroin represent the same threat. So, if you want to fight heroin, if you want to have an effective response against opiate overdoses, then you must fight and resist any reform of marijuana laws.

On April 24, the president argued (again) in a tweet that his infamous wall along the southern border was needed to win the drug war.

“The Wall is a very important tool in stopping drugs from pouring into our country and poisoning our youth (and many others)!” he tweeted.

There are many persuasive arguments to be made in response to a return to the drug war.

But the Trumpsters don’t care about arguments. They don’t care about the facts. They are concerned with the rhetorical and political advantages available from a pro-police, pro-drug war stance that allows them to attack liberals, progressives and Democrats as anti-American subversives who are keeping Trump from making America great again.

They can’t get too far with an open attack on marijuana legalization in the states. But they can encourage and support increased marijuana arrests in non-legalization states through advocating a tough line against drug abuse and drug policy reform. They will talk about heroin, but it’s marijuana users who are the easy and plentiful targets for local police.

The Trumpsters want to cut government spending, but they also want to give more money to police and the military. That means less money for education, prevention and rehabilitation and more money for anti-drug task forces, SWOT teams and para-military equipment for local police.

In a nutshell, the Trump administration is poised to apply what they see as the big lesson in 2007 from the Iraq War to the domestic War on Drugs. It may look bleak, but all we really need here (they believe) is the Big Surge.

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