Sunday, January 29, 2017 by JD Heyes
For decades, cannabis advocates have pushed for universal legalization of medical marijuana. Citing scientific study after scientific study, they have forcefully (and truthfully) argued that legalization would provide much needed relief to millions of people suffering from a host of medical ailments.
But the federal government has only responded with continued bans and regulatory restrictions that have limited access to the many who wish to freely choose this alternative medical treatment. In fact, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has now technically reclassified cannabis extracts as a Schedule I substance, putting them in the same category as heroin.
Now, however, the nightmarish over-regulation of cannabis may be about to be dismantled. President Donald J. Trump may be about to nominate someone to head up the Food and Drug Administration who believes in, and is a fan of, medical marijuana. (RELATED: Discover the latest scientific data on cannabis, hemp and marijuana at HempScience.news)
As reported by The Anti Media, Trump has spoken to two potential candidates: Balaji Srinivasan, CEO of bitcoin start-up 21.co, and Jim O’Neill, the managing director of investment firm Mithril Capital Management. Both met with Trump about a week before his inauguration.
Srinivasan, Recode noted, does not have much use for the FDA. Though they are now deleted, Srinivasan’s Twitter archive at one time contained huge criticisms of the federal agency. Now that he’s being considered to run the agency, he apparently does not want to give senators critical of him any more ammunition to fire against him than necessary.
And while a Srinivasan nomination would certainly be in the same mold of Trump’s previous picks – most of his nominees have been critical of the agencies they are about to lead – it’s the potential selection of O’Neill that should excite cannabis and medical marijuana supporters more.
The Anti Media noted:
As a member of the Board of Directors of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, O’Neill has been fighting for weed legalization for years. The Coalition is known for having helped to legalize the plant in the Golden State.
Peter Thiel, billionaire founder of PayPal, and the most vocal and perhaps the only supporter of Trump in Silicon Valley, has ties to both men. That could weigh heavily in Trump’s eventual decision about which one to nominate because Thiel is a close Trump adviser. It should also be noted here that Thiel was the first major investor in the cannabis industry.
O’Neill is both a vocal supporter of marijuana legalization and an advocate of a more lenient FDA. He has also talked about the importance of implementing dramatic FDA reforms that would permit Americans the choice to “start using [drugs], at their own risk.”
He is also a board member at the Seasteading Institute, an organization that seeks to create new societies at sea and away from current governments. This organization has been linked to libertarian movements in the past. Patri Friedman, the grandson of free market economist Milton Friedman, was a founder of the institute (as is Thiel).
Plus, O’Neill has served in government before; he served as the principle associate deputy secretary at the Department of Health and Human Services during the George W. Bush administration.
O’Neill voiced support for free market ideals in 2009, saying that “because there’s not a free market in healthcare, people are suffering very significant health consequences that in a free market they would not suffer.” (RELATED: Get the latest news and information on cannabis and medical marijuana at MedicalMarijuanaUpdate.com).
By embracing the free market, he noted, drug prices and healthcare costs would be “much lower and allow innovation in cheaper delivery of care, both in terms of drugs and devices and better forms of delivery.”
The FDA currently has some of the broadest regulatory powers of all federal agencies. By picking a libertarian-minded nominee to run it, Trump may be signaling that he is prepared to de-emphasize the FDA’s role and rein in much of its authority.
Personally, Trump has expressed his support for medical marijuana and, as far as overall legalization, he has said he believes it should be a “state-by-state” issue. But most of the “mainstream” scientific community and Big Pharma have been lying about the benefits of cannabis for years.