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U.S. drug policy poised to take a step backwards in the Trump era

One of the striking things about the so-called "war on drugs" in recent years is the scope and scale of the progress. That's apparently over now.
Recreational Marijuana Sales Begin in Colorado
Marijuana plants are seen under multi-colored grow lights in the growing rooms at the Denver Discreet Dispensary in Denver, Colo. on Jan. 1,2014.
One of the striking things about the so-called "war on drugs" in recent years is the scope and scale of the progress. By popular support, a variety of states have voted to legalize recreational marijuana use, for example. When President Obama commuted the sentences of many non-violent drug offenders, few blinked an eye.There was a burgeoning consensus that the decades-long "war" was needlessly expensive, punitive, reactionary, and damaging. It was time to move forward with a newer, smarter approach.At least, that's the way it appeared up until very recently. As the nation's new attorney general, for example, Jeff Sessions has made no secret of his intentions to renew the "war on drugs." Rep. Tom Marino (R-Pa.), meanwhile, is poised to take over the Office of National Drug Control Policy.And what does Tom Marino bring to the table on drug issues? The Washington Post reported yesterday on the Pennsylvania Republican's approach to the issue.

As a congressman, Marino called for a national program of mandatory inpatient substance abuse treatment for non-violent drug offenders. "One treatment option I have advocated for years would be placing non-dealer, non-violent drug abusers in a secured hospital-type setting under the constant care of health professionals," he said at a hearing last year."Once the person agrees to plead guilty to possession, he or she will be placed in an intensive treatment program until experts determine that they should be released under intense supervision," Marino explained. "If this is accomplished, then the charges are dropped against that person. The charges are only filed to have an incentive for that person to enter the hospital-slash-prison, if you want to call it."

Got that? If some non-violent adult were caught with marijuana, for example, Marino envisions a system in which that person would be locked up in a "hospital-slash-prison," and subjected to "an intensive treatment program." He or she would eventually be released, but be subjected to "intense supervision."The GOP congressman added last year that he might consider marijuana legalization, if the science proved persuasive, and if the drug could be produced "in pill form."Say hello to Donald Trump's new "drug czar."Postscript: Canada announced this morning a new effort to legalize marijuana. USA Today reported, "The new federal laws will make the possession of small amounts of pot legal throughout the country and will also establish broad guidelines concerning who can grow, sell and buy the drug."I'm convinced Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is just trying to make Trump look bad.