Trump Picks Marijuana Opponent For Health Secretary

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President-elect Donald Trump has selected an opponent of marijuana law reform to be the nation’s next top health official.

In picking Congressman Tom Price (R-GA) for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Trump is putting a legislator who has repeatedly voted against medical cannabis amendments in command of the federal government’s health and medicine regulatory bodies.

Advocates are already concerned about the selection of U.S. Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL), a leading anti-legalization voice in Congress, as attorney general. Together, as the heads of HHS and the Justice Department, Price and Sessions would be the two key officials to decide on petitions to reschedule marijuana under the Trump administration.

As a member of the U.S. House, Price voted six times against amendments to prevent the Justice Department from interfering with state medical marijuana laws. He also voted three times against amendments to allow military veterans to get medical cannabis recommendations through Department of Veterans Affairs doctors. And he also voted against a broader amendment to protect all state marijuana laws — including ones allowing recreational use — from federal interference.

Price did support a handful of much more modest marijuana law reforms, for example voting in favor of an amendment to allow states to implement laws authorizing patients to use low-THC/high- cannabidiol (CBD) preparations. And, he has voted in favor of amendments aimed at letting states implement industrial hemp programs.

Price’s wife, Betty, is a state representative in Georgia and was one of only eight members of the state House to vote against a medical cannabis bill earlier this year.

On the campaign trail, Trump repeatedly pledged to respect state marijuana laws, saying that he personally knows people who benefit from medical cannabis.

But advocates are worried that by filling the Cabinet with people like Price and Sessions, the Trump administration may not end up following through on those campaign promises.

In order to serve as HHS secretary, Price must first be confirmed by the Senate after he is formally nominated early next year. He will also face hearings before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions.

If confirmed, Price would oversee agencies under HHS such as the Food and Drug Administration, the National Institutes of Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Marijuana.com. Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)

11 Comments

  1. The further we go, the behinder we get. I hope all the trumpettes are happy. But, I will enjoy watching them sink with the rest of us ! Thanks America. Remember, YOU voted this jackass into office, not me.

  2. I’m gonna laugh my arse off when all you naysayers are proven wrong about Trump and he works with Congress and the DEA to change legislation and declassify. As a business man, Trump is no fool, nor is he the oppressive tool that many of you naysayers are making him out to be. All the people he is appointing have 1 major commonality to Trump, they love America, our constitution and the will of the American voter.
    Give peace and unity a chance, Trump just might make us all proud.

  3. It’s not like Hillary or F*king BO have done anything. Both hypocrites, they use, throw others in prison. We the people Will Be Heard. We must keep the pressures UP. They need ReEducated!

  4. I don’t smoke weed as a hobby but I surly don’t think it should be illegal. If it is helping so many folks with health issues then let em have it stop this tirade of pharmisuticals and medication that we get charged out the ass for. Let us live be free and happy

  5. It might be helpful if this site and other sites like it publicized lists of shame naming the Representatives and Senators that vote against or oppose marijuana law reform.

    This is the kind of individual accountability practiced by the NRA, one of the most effective lobbies in the nation.

    I think it would be worthwhile for advocates to study the NRA as an example of how to get things done. I know for many liberals the NRA is anathema. But even you oppose the NRA’s defense of gunrights, you can still learn from your adversaries.

    The reason I bring this up is because there is much commonality between the rights of marijuana users and the rights of gun owners. Both groups now patronize large going concern businesses that can afford a first class lobbying campaign. Both groups are not well understood by, and garner little sympathy from, their opponents. Both groups, marijuana users and gun owners, are personally affected and significantly inconvenienced or harmed in a very personal way by legal restrictions on the exercise of their rights. And most of the opponents of both groups consist of entrenched government officials protecting their own interests. Perhaps most importantly, both gun owners and marijuana users, because of their personal stake in legislated restrictions of their conduct, are far more likely to vote on this single issue than are the advocates of gun control and the war on drugs.

    Gun rights and marijuana rights are both libertarian issues. We can learn lessons, strategies and tactics by studying the NRA, which is perhaps the most successful libertarian advocacy organization in the country.

    Some food for thought.

  6. Marijuana reform is now a states rights issue. Price and Sessions as legislators protected the rights of their states. But as federal officials, they may be amenable to protecting the rights of all states. After all these guys want to reinstate slavery in the old south. A strong states rights argument might sway them. Do not ever give up!

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