The Blatant Anti-Science of Trump’s Drug War Zealots


On March for Science Day, a protest against right-wing anti-science actions, blatant Department of Justice anti-science is the norm. Attorney General Jeff Sessions set the tone. The former US prosecutor has already produced a list of anti-science sentiments, focused mainly on marijuana, but more general too. Contrary to evidence, the Alabaman AG insists that the country is in the grips of a new crime wave, necessitating, of course, a major new war on crime, especially drugs and specifically marijuana. His favorite tools are asset forfeiture and mandatory minimums. Again, contrary to all evidence, Jeff Sessions claims,

Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think…

Actually, there is remarkably little violence associated with state legal cannabis, rather extraordinary for an industry denied banking services and forced into cash.

The Attorney General’s false attempts to tie legal marijuana with violent crime are seconded by his new hardline lieutenant. An ex-prosecutor (of course) Steven Cook has been spreading the authoritarian doctrine that the militant, zero-tolerance war on drugs that helped fill prisons to overflowing was a good thing. Instead of the world’s highest rate of incarceration being an intolerable blight on the so-called “land of the free,” Cook sees such mass caging as the system working as it should, and has joined Sessions in seeking to revitalize the war on drugs.

Yet another, perhaps the most anti-marijuana, anti-science extremist of the lot is the new nominee for drug czar, former congressman Tom Marino of Pennsylvania. As a legislator, Marino voted against cannabis at every opportunity. His heart of darkness was revealed on his no vote for CBD for epilepsy treatment. He has advocated that drug users be confined until they can convince their jailers that they are drug-free.

In addition to such wild anti-science cannabigotry, Tom Marino seems disturbingly tied to Big Pharma. Worried by reduced pill consumption in cannabis legal states, pharmaceutical companies are becoming prime opponents of medical marijuana.

At, Chris Goldstein of PHILLY420 writes,

To make it all feel extra gross, Marino takes money from pharmaceutical companies and lobbyists. That has no shock value, because almost all high-level politicians in N.J. and Pa. – especially the Congressional delegations – take some form of pharma campaign cash. Thanks to superPACs, we don’t even really know how much. But again, that’s just business as usual around here.

He adds,

The basis for putting people into handcuffs, jails, courts, prisons, and drug treatment facilities over their choice to consume cannabis was never something from science.

How tied is Marino to Big Pharma? Annabelle Bamforth of Mint Press News calls him, Trump’s Drug Czar Pick Is A Pharmaceutical Industry Darling. reports of his actions as a congressman to protect the types of pill mill pharmacies and pharma companies that so much contributed to America’s current opioid epidemic.

Each of these Justice Department extremists, Sessions, Cook, and Marino have endorsed the old propaganda of marijuana being a “gateway drug.” Science has long ago disproved this doctrine, notably in the 1999 Institute of Medicine Study. But in 2010 Time Magazine called the marijuana gateway theory “the myth that will not die.” Now, seven years later, nearly the entire Trump administration again espouses this myth. This is particularly dangerous, even highly lethal, now that it is known that cannabis may well be an important part of the cure for many Americans addicted to opioids, 90 of whom die every day.

Beyond the Justice Department, the same anti-science, anti-cannabis thinking pervades the entire administration. The anti-science notions of Vice-President Mike Pence are truly ridiculous. In addition to perpetuating anti-marijuana nonsense, the vice president believes, against the findings of science, that marijuana is highly dangerous but tobacco cigarettes are safe. In truth, cigarettes still kill nearly 1,200 Americans per day; cannabis kills zero.

The science of medical cannabis is compelling. Dozens of diseases and maladies are prevented, treated, cured, or at least ameliorated with medical marijuana. The US government has done everything in can to prevent such confirming research, so much of it has been done in countries around the planet. This enormous body of research proving the safety and medical usefulness of marijuana is now clear to all but the most close-minded. Unfortunately, it is these anti-science zealots in power who are actively trying to send cannabis back to the dark ages.