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.