Trump Taps Rep. Tom Marino as ‘Drug Czar’

Marino, a Pennsylvania Republican who has long supported President Trump, was rumored to be a drug czar candidate in the spring, but took himself out of the running because of his mother’s health. He has backed both more drug enforcement and treatment.

President Trump has nominated Rep. Tom Marino (R-PA) to lead the Office of National Drug Control Policy (the so-called “drug czar,”) months after he had officially withdrawn from consideration, reports STAT. Marino, an attorney who has served in the House since 2011, has a lengthy track record of supporting enforcement-side drug policy as well as improved drug treatment. Marino is a longtime supporter of Trump and served on his transition team.

Marino was rumored to be a candidate to lead ONDCP throughout the spring, but cited his mother’s health when he took himself out of the running. He has advocated for “placing non-dealer, non-violent drug abusers in a secured hospital-type setting under the constant care of health professionals” if they plead guilty to a drug possession charge. The criminal charge would be dropped upon successful completion of a treatment program. Last year, Marino co-authored a law that passed with bipartisan support but drew criticism for limiting the Drug Enforcement Administration’s power to crack down on pharmacies and some distributors it determined had acted in ways that contributed to the opioid crisis. Marino said the law was meant to protect the rights of patients in need of prescription painkillers while also acting to prevent abuse. Marino, who must be confirmed by the Senate, would inherit the role of drug czar during an ever-worsening epidemic of opioid overdoses.