New Drug Czar Backs Hard Line on Enforcement

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Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) will be President Trump’s director of drug control policy (the “drug czar,”) says a report from CBS News. Marino’s congressional voting record is that of a hard-liner on marijuana issues, and he recently said that he’d like to put nonviolent drug offenders in some sort of “hospital-slash-prison,” reports the Washington Post. Under President Obama, the office retired the phrase “war on drugs,” preferring rhetoric centered more on public health than criminal justice. Whether that approach continues is an open question. Former drug czars have been publicly agitating to “bring back the war on drugs.”

Marino appears to be in that camp as well, but the drug czar’s office has played a limited role in setting policy. It coordinates drug control strategy and funding across the federal government. With the selection of Marino, another piece of Trump’s drug control strategy falls into place. In Congress, Marino voted several times against a bipartisan measure to prevent the Justice Department from going after medical marijuana businesses in states. (The measure ultimately passed.) He voted against a measure to allow Veterans Affairs doctors to recommend medical marijuana to their patients, as well as against another measure to loosen federal restrictions on hemp, a non-psychoactive variant of the cannabis plant with potential industrial applications.


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