Will Donald Trump Nominate Marijuana Legalizer to Head the FDA?


Marijuana legalization supporters, and other civil rights advocates, have been understandably glued to the attorney general confirmation hearings for Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, but the upcoming nomination to head the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) could soon take center stage. The FDA has been unwilling to consider marijuana itself medicine, even though it has approved the use of three marijuana-based medicines. Marijuana law reform activists are encouraged by the possibility of Jim O’Neill being tapped to lead the FDA, as attn.com reported:

“Seeing Jim’s name floated gives us reason for a little optimism in the midst of so many old school drug warriors being tapped for other key posts,” Marijuana Majority founder Tom Angell told ATTN:. “I feel confident that if he becomes the next FDA commissioner, we will be in very good position to finally reschedule marijuana.”

Mike Liszewski, the director of government affairs at Americans for Safe Access, agreed. He told ATTN: that O’Neill’s prospective nomination “could bring about significant changes to medical cannabis policy” and “potentially address the regulations that have prevented medical cannabis research.”

“Such reforms could ultimately lead to cannabis being removed from Schedule I of the Controlled Substances Act,” Liszewski said. “However, whatever progress on cannabis at FDA under the Trump Administration should not be used as justification for cracking down on state medical cannabis programs, as there are more than 2 million patients who rely on these programs for safe and legal access to their medicine.”

Jim O’Neill, who has close ties with fellow legalization supporter Peter Thiel (who served on Trump’s transition team), served as a founding member of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform. O’Neill could provide a sensible voice on cannabis within the Donald Trump Administration. While we’ll continue to read through the tea leaves, trying to determine what Donald Trump’s federal cannabis policy will be, it is clear that marijuana legalizers must remain vigilant throughout the Trump Administration, particularly with the White House’s prioritization of law-and-order policies, and especially if Jeff Sessions is indeed confirmed as the next attorney general. The nomination of a marijuana legalizer could be just what the cannabis community needs to protect the gains we’ve worked so hard to achieve.

Featured photo credit: DonkeyHotey
Carl Wellstone
About Carl Wellstone 35 Articles
Carl is a cannabis activist from Oregon


  1. Having a voice of reason on the cannabis prohibition debate within the White House is both refreshing and hopeful for those of us who are developing program driven cannabis therapy programs.
    Veterans for Compassionate Care http://www.veteransforcompassionatecare.org fully supports this nomination and we in the industry should support this as well.
    Maybe the era of the the prohibition profiteers is finally over.

  2. Might have a good view of cannabis but it is not in his power to reschedule…Sessions and Tom Price, the only ones outside of the President and Congress to do anything on rescheduling, may well stand in the way of that.

    Also, hes CRAZY!

    “We should reform FDA so it is approving drugs after their sponsors have demonstrated safety and let people start using them at their own risk,” said Jim O’Neill, a managing director at Mithril Capital Management, a venture capital firm run by Peter Thiel, the billionaire Trump donor and transition team advisor. “Let’s prove efficacy after they’ve been legalized.” from a speech he made…https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Y7oazjaSyE

    Im sorry, that’s crazy. So we get a favorable view of cannabis from a guy that has this philosophy? Not good. And, Thiels CRAZY to.

      • Yeah, it was “temporarily” placed in Schedule 1, pending further study. 47 years and the “studyin” goes on. Nixon has been gone, not years, decades, yet his asinine cannabis policy lives on. Prohibition IS the monster that won’t die!!

    • Well no. It is not crazy. Drugs only used to be tested for safety – that testing is cheap. Then big pharma said – “What if they don’t work?” Well efficacy testing costs billions. Now the little guys are out of the market.

      Very clever – don’t you think?

    • I haven’t heard much concern on HHS nominee Tom Price. Not only is he anti medical cannabis he’s also anti opioid therepy. It’s like “no cannabis for you! By the way we’re cutting you off those pain meds, too.” This guy was a surgeon!?! What did he give his post-op patients, Extra strength Tylenol!?!

  3. With the picks Trump has made so far it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if he chose someone in the mold of Kevin Sabet, very, very anti cannabis!

  4. It is wholly inaccurate to say that the FDA has refused to consider whole plant cannabis for use as a medicine. There isn’t a committee that decides which medicine will or won’t be examined in clinical trials. That’s for the very simple reason that the FDA doesn’t do clinical research. The FDA reviews research sponsored by entities which want to market a substance as medicine. I recently read that it costs $2.6 billion ($2,600,000,000.00) for a pharmaceutical company to get FDA approval to market a new medicine. The FDA has neither approved or disapproved whole plant cannabinoid medicine for the very simple reason that no one has asked them to do so. Reanimate Jack Herer, put him in charge of the FDA and he would still have to wait for someone to sponsor the research before it would be considered.

    • My feeling is this delay is an attempt to stop this in its tracks before it even has a chance to get up & running. “We The People,” indeed!

  5. Until the cannabis community starts working with recalcitrant Republicans there will be trouble. And to work with them you have to be sympathetic to their concerns.

    Remember how Hillary lost the election by ignoring Fly-Over Country?

    A good place to start would be this primer on City vs Country culture. There are two main human ecologies. The rules are different for those ecologies.


  6. I hope Roger Stone has influence with Trump. He said it would be a mistake for Trump to go after legalized cannabis, that he should look at this as a business man. So who knows?

  7. Marijuana needs to be descheduled, not rescheduled.

    Putting it as Schedule 2 next to opiates will require licensed pharmacists at marijuana dispensaries.

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