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Big Pharma Backer Rep. Tom Marino Withdraws Name from Drug Czar Consideration

Updated Oct. 18: For the second time, Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) has withdrawn his name from consideration to become the country’s next drug czar. Pres. Trump nominated him for the position in September.

On Oct. 15, the Washington Post and 60 Minutes reported that Marino had received $100,000 in PAC money from the pharmaceutical industry in return for passing favorable legislation.

Marino (R-PA) was hoping to head the Office of National Drug Control Policy. The news that Marino, 65, was President Trump’s choice for the drug czar post came four months after he withdrew his name the first time due to a “critical illness” in his family.

Marino has a sketchy track record. In 2007, when he was U.S. attorney in the Middle District of Pennsylvania, he resigned abruptly during a Justice Department investigation for abuse of authority. In 1998, he was accused of “judge-shopping” when trying to get a friend’s cocaine-dealing conviction expunged; according to court records, he hand-delivered an expungement request to a judge three weeks after a different judge had refused it. He was elected to Congress in 2010 from a largely rural district in the state’s northeast.

“The only way I would agree to consider legalizing marijuana is if we had a really in-depth study,” Marino said last October. “If it does help people one way or the other, then produce it in pill form. But don’t make an excuse because you want to smoke marijuana.”

Marino has also repeatedly voted against the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment (now known as Rohrabacher-Blumenauer), which protects state medical-marijuana programs from federal interference. He also voted against a bill that would have allowed Veterans Administration doctors to recommend medical marijuana in states where it’s legal.

“He’s a disastrous choice for drug czar and needs to be opposed,” says Bill Piper, Drug Policy Alliance’s senior director of national affairs. “Our nation needs a drug czar who wants to treat drug use as a health issue, not someone who wants to double down on mass incarceration.”

It’s unclear who will be the next nominee for drug czar.

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