Faced with a scandal, Trump's pick for drug czar quits

20 October, 2017, 00:59 | Author: Chad Mckenzie
  • Joseph T. Rannazzisi

Trump called Marino "a good man" on Monday but said, somewhat ominously, "We're going to be looking into Tom". "We're going to look into the report", the President continued.

The bill, called Ensuring Patient Access and Effective Drug Enforcement Act, was signed into law by president Obama previous year, after it was passed by both chambers of Congress. Critics say it effectively stripped the DEA of its authority to investigate suspicious transactions as the government is now required to meet a higher standard before taking enforcement actions. He said: "If I think it's 1% negative to doing what we want to do, I will make a change".

Marino sponsored legislation that effectively made it much more hard for DEA to crack down on suspicious narcotic shipments from drug distribution companies, stripping the agency of its authority, the news outlets reported.

Congress passed a law in 2016 weakening the Drug Enforcement Administration's ability to crack down on drug makers and distribution companies supplying doctors and pharmacists peddling opioids to the black market. In 2014, Marino staffers met with DEA investigator Joseph T. Rannazzisi to understand why he was so adamantly opposed to their bill.

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Some Democrats called on Mr. Trump to respond after the report.

At the time, the opioid crisis had claimed the lives of 200,000 people - more than three times the number of United States military deaths during the Vietnam War.

Since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths from opioids has more than quadrupled, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Almost nine months into his presidency, Trump has been criticized for not taking more substantial actions on his campaign pledge to tackle America's opioid epidemic, which disproportionately affects numerous areas that were key to his victory. In August, while speaking in a conference room at his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, the President promised to "protect innocent citizens from drug dealers that poison our communities".

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But Trump has yet to formally declare the emergency status, which would then unlock additional resources to fight the epidemic.

Marino was nominated to lead the National Office of Drug Control Policy, a key role in efforts to tackle the epidemic in opioid addiction and abuse that Trump on Monday called a "massive problem", saying that he would make a major announcement on the subject next week.

In the wake of the report, some Democratic lawmakers urged Trump to reconsider Marino's nomination.

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