New Trump Drug Czar Voted Against Marijuana Amendments in Congress

By Tom Angell | April 11, 2017

CBS News is reporting that President Trump will name Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) as White House drug czar.

The position, more formally known as director of the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) is responsible for setting broad federal approaches to controlled substance policy and certifying the drug budgets of other agencies.

As a member of Congress since 2011, Marino has consistently voted against marijuana law reform measures on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.

For example, he voted three times against amendments to prevent the Justice Department from interfering with state medical marijuana laws.

He also opposed a broader amendment to protect all state marijuana laws from Justice Department interference.

Marino voted three times against amendments to allow military veterans to receive medical cannabis recommendation through Department of Veterans Affairs doctors.

He also consistently opposed measures to allow industrial hemp.

And he even voted against a measure sponsored by a fellow Pennsylvania Republican to protect limited state cannabidiol (CBD) medical cannabis programs from federal interference.

Marino is a former state and federal prosecutor.

In testimony before the House Ways and Means Committee last year, Marino appeared to advocate for forced hospitalization of people who use drugs.

“One treatment option I have advocated for years would be placing nondealer, nonviolent drug abusers in a secured hospital-type setting under the constant care of health professionals,” he wrote. “Once the person agrees to plead guilty to possession, he or she will be placed in an intensive treatment program until experts determine that they should be released under intense supervision. If this is accomplished, then the charges are dropped against that person. The charges are only filed to have an incentive for that person to enter the hospital-slash-prison, if you want to call it.”

Despite consistently voting against amendments to allow states to implement their own marijuana laws without federal harassment, he told the Williamsport Sun-Gazette last year that, “I’m a states’ rights guy. The less federal government in my life, the best. I think it’s a states’ right issue. If Pennsylvania passes it… and if I don’t like it, I can pick up and move.”

Pennsylvania did indeed pass a comprehensive medical cannabis law last year.

“If it does help people one way or another, then produce it in pill form,” Marino said. “You can’t smoke it for this, but you take a pill. But don’t make an excuse because you want to smoke marijuana. Look what’s happening to states and cities who are legalizing it. They are running into a lot of problems.”

Marino’s appointment, after it is formally announced, will require confirmation by the U.S. Senate.

Tom Angell

Tom Angell is a senior political correspondent for MassRoots. A 15-year veteran in the cannabis law reform movement, he covers the policy and politics of marijuana. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit Marijuana Majority and is editor of the daily Marijuana Moment newsletter.

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