Illustration by James the Stanton

Meet Your New Drug Czar

And maybe start thinking about growing your own again.

Trump announced in February that he was considering dissolving the Office of Drug Control Policy. Now 45 seems, shockingly, poised to do the very opposite, and appoint a new drug czar, specifically Rep. Tom Marino, R-Pennsylvania.

Marino, a self-described “deplorable” and part of Trump’s transition team, has been a soldier in the War on Drugs for several years, starting as a prosecuting attorney who went after drug offenders. During his time in D.C. he has consistently voted against marijuana-reform bills, or anything that has come across his desk that is even remotely supportive of cannabis use in any way. He has voted against allowing doctors at Veterans Affairs to discuss cannabis use at all with veterans. He claims to be a states’-rights guy, but in 2015 voted against the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, which limits the government’s ability to use tax money against states trying to legalize, and has voted four times against limiting the government’s ability to sway state policy on cannabis. He even opposes bills and movements addressing hemp and CBD. The Marijuana Policy Project has labeled Marino a “prohibitionist.”

Perhaps more serious, he supports forced inpatient hospitalization for any non-dealer, nonviolent person who pleads guilty to possession to receive constant “treatment” until a doctor thinks they are fit to re-enter society. If and when a patient achieves whatever goals their doctor sets out, the charges are dropped, and they are released under intense supervision. Marino calls it a “hospital-slash-prison.” Given the amount of money Marino has received from pharmaceutical companies, one can imagine the types of “treatments” people might be exposed to.

The bill Marino has put his support behind? The Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act of 2016. The name sounds like it would be good for patients, but critics have lambasted the policy for being too relaxed and ensuring pharmaceutical companies uninterrupted access to consumers. When pressed on the issue of medical usage, Marino insists that medical benefit has yet to be proven and that much testing needs to be done before he would ever get behind legalizing. If he did support its usage, he thinks weed should be available only in pill form, which would be convenient for pharmaceutical companies.

Most presidents have changed the name of the office to suit their administrations’ attitudes on drugs, prohibition, and legalization. Under Obama it was the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy. The new title? The Opioid and Drug Abuse Commission, a name that clearly signals this administration’s shift in attitude toward people who use. Buckle up, kids, and consider learning to grow your own—it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

stashbox@seattleweekly.com

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