White House Taps Big Pharma-Loving, Pot-Hating Drug Czar

Photo by Bart Everson via Flickr

The White House is expected to name Rep. Tom Marino, from Pennsylvania to be the new Director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP)—AKA the latest drug czar.

If Marino—referred to as “just another anti-marijuana, pro-pharma” extremist by Philadelphia’s Inquirer—is appointed, one wonders how a man with such close ties to the pharmaceutical industry intends to deal with the country’s devastating opioid and heroin crises, especially since both were created by Big Pharma.

Per data published by the International Business Times, Marino has received more money from the pharmaceutical industry than any other sector, which happily continues to produce and distribute the most deadly and addictive legal drugs in the country.

“This is the opposite of draining the swamp,” Dr. Andrew Kolodny, co-director of Opioid Policy Research at Brandeis University and co-founder of Physicians for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP), told the International Business Times. “In the midst of a public health crisis [Trump] is putting at the helm of the ONDCP someone who has worked for the opioid lobby against efforts to bring the epidemic under control.”

But, that sounds about right.

Trump’s cabinet picks have been consistently directed to destroy and/or sabotage the very offices and posts they are chosen to lead.

While Marino has shamelessly helped opioid-producing pharmaceutical companies during his career in Congress, he’s never been friendly to the weed industry.

Since Marino has been in the House of Representatives for the past 10 years, he has consistently opposed all measures to reform federal cannabis law, including medical marijuana initiatives.

He voted against a measure allowing Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical cannabis to their patients, and he opposed measures to ease federal restrictions on hemp and CBD.

Tom Marino (Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia)
Tom Marino (Photo Courtesy of Wikimedia)

Marino told the Sun Gazette that the only way he’d consider legalization would be “if we had a really in depth-medical scientific study,” and if medical cannabis were available only in “pill form.”

In other words, he’s against any kind of legalization.

Remember back in February when the White House budget office drafted a hit list of programs that Trump could eliminate to trim domestic spending and the ONDCP (the drug czar office) was on it?

But now, tapping Marino as head of the ONDCP indicates that the drug czar is not getting tossed out with Big Bird and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Drug czars have been around since the 1930.

Harry J. Anslinger was the first drug czar in his role as Commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics when it was established in 1930.

And things haven’t changed much since then.

“Anslinger was a profligate propagandist with a flair for demonizing racial and immigrant groups and perhaps best known for his zealous pursuit of harsh drug penalties and his particular animus for marijuana users,” wrote Alexandra Chasin in her authoritative book, Assassin of Youth: A Kaleidoscopic History of Harry J. Anslinger’s War on Drugs.

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