Trump's likely 'drug czar,' a Pa. hardliner on pot, draws attacks – Philly.com
The Pennsylvania congressman who appears to be President Trump’s choice for national drug czar has a track record that is making him a lightning rod for criticism in the drug-treatment community and among advocates for patients’ rights.
Tom Marino, a former district attorney and federal prosecutor from Williamsport, is a well-known drug warrior. A staunch opponent of legalizing both medical and recreational marijuana, Marino also has advocated locking up non-violent drug offenders until they submit to treatment.
As drug czar, Marino would oversee the Office of National Drug Control Policy, which advises the president on drug issues and coordinates national and global anti-drug efforts. His appointment as the office’s director would require Senate confirmation.
The Republican was one of the first members of Congress, along with fellow Pennsylvania Rep. Lou Barletta, to openly support Trump’s presidential candidacy. At campaign rallies, Trump saluted Marino and Barletta, nicknaming them “Thunder and Lightning.” The pair remain among the president’s most vocal and loyal advocates.
Marino, a self-described “deplorable,” also has been one of the most vociferous opponents of the Affordable Care Act. Better known as Obamacare, the ACA has helped provide more access to drug treatment services to poor people under an expanded Medicaid program.
— Tom Marino (@Marino4Congress) October 9, 2016
In Congress, Marino voted multiple times against protecting residents of states where cannabis is legal from prosecution under federal drug laws, rejected allowing the Veterans Affairs Department to administer medical marijuana to veterans, and cast votes against measures that would allow industrial hemp.
Marino has said he recognizes that the nation is suffering from a substance abuse epidemic. In 2015, there were more than 52,400