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Tom Marino Back in Running to Be Trump’s ‘Drug Czar’

September 5, 2017
Thomas Marino, flanked by former House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, left, and former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Va., right, speaks during a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Friday, Sept. 23, 2011. (Susan Walsh/AP)
The White House has announced that President Donald Trump intends to nominate US Rep. Tom Marino to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP).

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Marino, an early supporter of then-candidate Trump, has been a candidate for the role—commonly known as White House “drug czar”—since at least April, when the president first said he intended to appoint the Pennsylvania Republican to the post. But Marino withdrew himself from consideration in May citing a critical illness in his family.

In the position, Marino would steer the administration’s policies on drug control. And as Leafly Deputy Editor Bruce Barcott reported in April, his record indicates he’s far more concerned with the country’s ongoing opioid epidemic than with regulated cannabis markets.

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During his time in Congress, Marino has worked to expand access to treatment for individuals struggling with opioid addiction. He also led a successful legislative effort to address cross-border drug trafficking.  If those past examples are any indication, Marino would likely direct most of his attention as drug czar to America’s opioid crisis. A White House panel in July urged the president to declare a national emergency around opioid overdoses, which are estimated to have killed roughly 60,000 people in 2016.

Marino’s position on opioids, however, could raise concerns within the cannabis industry. He seems to favor tougher criminal enforcement on the ground and more leniency for drug manufacturers, an approach that echoes that of US Attorney General Jeff Sessions. In May 2016, for example, Marino suggested that authorities lock up nonviolent drug offenders in a “hospital-slash-prison,” with release dependent upon the treatment program’s approval. If, like Sessions, Marino sees cannabis as a contributor to America’s overdose epidemic—just last week, Sessions said the idea of legalizing cannabis “makes the hair stand up on the back of my neck”—he may be resistant to the growing body of evidence that medical cannabis can help combat the opioid crisis.

If confirmed by the Senate (which reconvened today), Marino would replace Richard Baum, the ONDCP’s acting head. His Congressional seat would need to be filled via a special election.

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Gage Peake

Gage Peake is a former staff writer for Leafly, where he specialized in data journalism, sports, and breaking news coverage. He's a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln's College of Journalism and Mass Communications.

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  • dtschuck

    Opiods kill 60,000 and DACA kids kill none. Guess which one Trump is fixated on?

    • Kenny Hotz

      So all those stories in the news(you may have to turn the channel from MSNBCNN) where dreams murder people are wrong? Seems to me he isn’t fixated on DACA. He is done with it for now. He has left it up to congress. Time to move on to the budget. But for the sake of argument. Why do you not care about suicides and car accident deaths? They are pretty high as well. You must have a sixth sense that opiod use will just go away if MJ was legal. I am all for it being legal but no need to dilute the facts. It should help in theory but by how much no one knows. Try to get a heroin addict to put down the needle. It doesn’t happen and if it does, not for long.

      • glorpthesmelly

        Is it hard work maintaining your level of ignorance Kenny?

        • Kenny Hotz

          Nice rebuttal.

          • glorpthesmelly

            Can’t answer, huh?

          • Kenny Hotz

            Ok, I will play. What was ignorant in my response? The conversation is on DACA’s not having ever killed anyone. I took the stance of disagreeing and for me to be ignorant of the facts as you suggest, you need to provide information showing a contradictory stance. I need to provide 1 instance to be correct, you need to defend every dreamer to be correct. I await your rebuttal.

    • SandyLester

      Untrue. daca kids kill plenty.
      daca is unConstitutional, it was an illegal EO by O, presidents can’t make law.

    • Ray Say

      It has been proven that many gang members have come out of the DACA is CACA unconstitutional E.O. by a fraud Prez, so you don’t know what you are talking about, many Americans have been robbed, rape or kill by this DACA farce, BTW, they are not kids, they are full grown adults and do adults things

      • john sillings

        Exactly, Ray.

    • john sillings

      Stop trying to use cannabis as a platform to disregard immigration law.

  • Norman Thurber

    This is all just nonsense. It’s a lot of hype caused by people who don’t want the “unwashed masses” to determine what’s best for them and what they want. Doesn’t matter what we want. Our elected dicktaters are smarter than us and therefore they alone know what’s best for us. Hail Caesar.

    • Kenny Hotz

      So you are for smaller government? Stop voting Dems in!

      • Norman Thurber

        Yes. Smaller government? How about no government? States should be governed by the citizens. No one should be allowed a government job of any kind without a 2yr lifetime limit and no family members allowed to be elected ever. And what makes you think I voted for a Dem? I don’t vote for elected “officials” only laws and ordinances, etc. Put down your pipe/bong/joint whatever and look around you. There is no difference between a dumbocrap or a repukelican except their agenda’s which are quite often the same except for different reasons.

        • Kenny Hotz

          I agree with most of what you said. I was simply making a statement that does hold true. Dems like really big government and yes the right does as well, just not as much. Yes it looked directed at you because most people on here are dems as you can see from the replies above (like smellygloryhole falsely said, the right hates pot). I apologize for assuming with you. Smaller gov, no gov? Just follow the constitution and the 10th amendment and the federal government would do as intended and protect the borders and build interstates and be a mediator between states.

          States are governed by citizens…We haven’t outsourced our government to other countries yet…

          • Norman Thurber

            Everyone gets a bit crazy/passionate about things we don’t take time to research. Like this immigration thing. The left wants voters and the right wants cheap wage lowering labor. Both are detrimental to actual legal American Citizens. 1st we should learn from the past and quit repeating it. And lest anybody call me racist I’m half Native American and half Irish. So as far as I’m concerned you’re all fighting over a country that doesn’t belong to any of you. While you all fight over stupid statues and immigrants none of you realize that your really the illegal immigrants here. All of you. Took my Father’s land/country by force and we still live on Reservations/Concentration camps. So some history lessons for you all. 1. The fall of the Roman Empire was directly connected to the inability of that power structure to feed all of those who were allowed/captured into their lands. It led to the Empire’s downfall. Research the meaning of “Rome burned while Nero fiddled” and you’ll see for yourself. 2. Spaniards not Italians came here and raped and pillaged my ancestors and still to this day we are wondering when some of you will worry about us and give us all the goodies [they] get. So to claim the are The Race only makes them feel good about being a pillaged people’s. And I don’t understand how when we stood up for ourselves none of you came to our aid. Research Wounded Knee for starters and shame on you all. 3. We’ve had immigration laws for well over 100 years. Nothing wring eith them, they worked great and made things better. 4. We’ve had immigration Amnesties for these illegals before. But instead of enforcing the laws we havewe keep saying “it’s broken” well bullshit, the only thing broken is enforcement. Every amnesty resulted in a bigger influx of illegals each time. Research what past Presidents did with amnesty and how each time we were promised more enforcement of immigration laws and no amnesties ever again. You really only have to go back as far as Reagan. 5. The fight over legalizing pot is phony. It’ll happen because people who are high tend to be less aggressive about anything and less interested in putting up any kind of resistance. And who would benefit from a vast majority of sleepy, hungry, mind blown citizens? Wake up sheeple.

          • Kenny Hotz

            So half of you took the other half of “your” land?

            TLDR, to preachy

          • Norman Thurber

            No you numbnuts. The Irish were treated as badly as the slaves and Native Americans. It was the British and then the self-proclaimed “settlers” and land grabbers. If you weren’t so friggin ignorant my beef is with the government and their lies and broken promises. The government did the taking. You my ignorant friend are just a byproduct of self delusion and a free government education. But let the gates open and erase the borders. Doesn’t matter to me. My people were here long before the ruiners came and we’ll be here long after you’re all gone.

          • Kenny Hotz

            Oh, So your real beef is with the brits. Americans bought the rest of the USA.

          • Kenny Hotz

            Maybe you should take a trip to Oklahoma and check out “your” people and see just how they live with government money. Hint, Lots of drinking and drugs on those reservations. They also happen to be “my” people to, but you seem to like them to be “your” people to go along with “your” grand delusions.

        • john sillings

          Exactly, Norman.

      • glorpthesmelly

        The entire anti- cannabis movement is made up of REPUBLICANS WHO ARE SO DELUSIONAL AS TO BELIEVE THEY’RE ON SOME KIND OF MISSION FROM GOD. They are aided and abetted by morons like you Kenny.

        What fucking planet do you live on Kenny?

        • Kenny Hotz

          You know nothing of me? And you obviously just take hook line and sinker whatever MSNBCNN will toss at you. A large part of the right are libertarians who want less government which means less laws to include drugs. I fall in that place but you didn’t take the time to respond with an intellectual argument, you just spouted talking points. Good Dem, don’t think, just do what they say.

          You cant simply blame the right. How was that vote for cali and every other state that is rec or MM? most just barely tipped the 50% scale. Your fellow dems voted against it in a big way, repeatedly. So cali voted 56, CO at 54%, oregon at 55% while Montana(62%), Alaska(58%) and North Dakota(64%)….ALL very Red states had more yes votes than your blue states could manage.

          What dimension do you live in?

        • john sillings

          The truth is, the whole democrat/republican “choice” is an illusion for the masses. It’s all the same.

      • Good God

        Yeah. Because Jeffrey Sessions is a Democrat. Your logic is full of idiocy. In case you haven’t noticed, the Republicans are currently in charge.

        • Kenny Hotz

          In case you haven’t noticed, current laws were on the books for the previous 8 years as well. I spoke about big government and you tried to twist my simple statement into “logic” and about the pot movement.

  • Lyle Birdwell

    Overdose: Marijuana = 0, Opioids = Lots and Lots and Lots…

  • Etidorhpa

    When i visited Seattle recently I was shocked at how much of a dump it is. Bums everywhere. Junkies digging through trash. Tents in beautiful parks, playgrounds and cemeteries. If Opioid contribute to this, then stop making the pills, if marijuana contributes to it , stop selling it. Americans sacrificed so much to have free choices but why do they have to be so destructive and why should it affect everyone around them in a negative way? Just like illegal immigration. Why do idiots just want to give away all that so many sacrificed to make.

  • Norman Thurber

    Kenny is as dumb as they come. If anyone here can’t see my point it’s because they are not actually reading the post. My whole problem as should be everyone’s is that their are religious, government and private groups pushing for rights for illegals that they don’t have and never had. Our “gubbermint” pays their way and and gives them driver licenses and health care and food and etc. Allow the breaking of our laws and no enforcement of laws unless you are an actual legal U.S. Citizen then you’re on the hook for smoking a joint or jay walking. Smack your wife or kids around and you’ll go to jail, unless your from another country. Then it’s “part of their culture” card is played and they get off scottfree. It’s all leading to civil unrest and anger. I’m angry that I pay college tuition for my kids while these illegals get it free. I’m angry that my government represents everyone except legal American Citizens. I’m angry that when my people who had and still have a legitimate beef with government, were shot down for protesting and demanding fair treatment. Look around assholes. How many Native Americans do you see? How many do you know? All on “reservations”. But where are the illegals and foreigners. How many do you see? How many do you know? Wake up sheeple before you end up on a “reservation” too.

  • Zavier McFall-Maycock

    The key to figuring out his position, is to look at how he voted while in Congress.

    NORML keeps a track on Senators and Representatives and how they voted on major Cannabis based legislation.

    If you look at Pennsylvania, most of their Republicans voted for the basic cannabis measures introduced into Congress, so they have an overall B score.

    If you look at Tom Marino, he voted “NO” to all of the introduced cannabis measures, despite other Pennsylvania republicans voting yes.

    He’s just another big pharma paid, anti-marijuana pundit.

    source: http://norml.org/congressional-scorecard/pennsylvania