CANNABIS ADVOCATE JIM O’NEIL MIGHT CONTROL THE FDA

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A long time and cannabis industry known silicon valley cannabis advocate Jim O’Neil could be the new head of the FOOD & DRUG ADMINISTRATION (FDA).  This could the answer all cannabis supporters have been waiting on.  The FDA has the ability to lower marijuana from a schedule 1 drug aka (no viable medical usage & researchers need special approval to conduct research on marijuana) to schedule 2 aka ( can be prescribed by a physician, insurance can cover it & banks accounts , debit cards can be utilized for purchases).  Lets see what happens next with this new administration inside the White House in Washington DC.

 

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President-Elect Donald Trump has been making marijuana legalization activists nervous with his cabinet appointments thus far, but one possible new pick may actually work in their favor.

Bloomberg is reporting that Trump could select biotech executive Balaji Srinivasan to lead the Food and Drug Administration. Sources close to the situation add that the enigmatic Srinivasan is the second candidate for the FDA post — after billionaire Silicon Valley investor Jim O’Neill — to have strong connections to tech mogul Peter Thiel, a staunch supporter of both Trump and the legal marijuana industry.

Peter Thiel, who founded PayPal and became Facebook’s first outside investor in 2004, was appointed to the executive committee of Trump’s transition team after the election in November. Founder’s Fund, an investment firm started by Thiel, has invested millions of dollars into marijuana companies in the hopes of making progress toward a legalized and regulated marijuana market. The reason Thiel sticks out in Trump’s camp is that the advancement of marijuana reform has typically been accomplished by lawmakers on the Democratic side of the aisle.

Ethan Nadelmann, founder of the Drug Policy Alliance, told Rolling Stone that while marijuana legalization has been mainly a Democratic endeavor, more and more Republicans are beginning to see the light.

“When I look around the country and see the number of people investing in the marijuana industry who have high-level Republican connections … it means that even though marijuana reform has been disproportionately advanced and pushed by Democrats, and even though Democrats are much more likely to vote in favor than Republicans, the fact of the matter is that you have a significant and growing minority of Republicans who are supportive of marijuana legalization,” said Nadelman. “And also quite a growing number of individuals who are invested in the industry.”

Both O’Neill and Srinivasan met with Trump last week, and according to White House Press Secretary-to-be Sean Spicer, both “are being considered for positions in the FDA.”

Balaji Srinivasan, a Stanford University Professor and graduate in engineering, is an expert in computational biology with extensive experience in the field of health regulation. However, Srinivasan’s expertise regarding regulations in the health sector may ultimately be what scares many Republicans.

The polarizing Srinivasan co-founded the biotech start-up Counsyl, a company primarily focused on providing DNA mapping of unborn babies to expectant parents in order to give them an earlier warning of developmental issues like Down Syndrome. Counsyl’s website includes a statement that reads, “We help you make smart choices about your health, your family, and your future.”

While Srinivasan is no longer involved with Counsyl, Republicans may raise an issue with his former company’s mission. The Republican Party stated in their official platform before the 2016 election that an “unborn child has a fundamental right to life which cannot be infringed.” Counsyl’s DNA screening is now used in about 4% of total U.S. pregnancies annually, where roughly 30% of fetuses with Down Syndrome are aborted.

But if social media is any indication, Trump may be leaning toward appointing Srinivasan regardless of his past business endeavors in the health field. In an interesting if not strange move for a fairly active social media account, Srinivasan deleted thousands of his tweets. In fact, he deleted all but one single tweet that reads, “Don’t argue on Twitter. Build the future.”

One possible explanation for why Srinivasan deleted all of his tweets is that he emphatically disagreed with many of the FDA’s core functions and regulation as a whole — and he did so quite vocally.

Here Srinivasan describes how the current iteration of the FDA impedes innovation through constricting regulations. He mentions an “exit,” something that he does frequently in his now-deleted tweets (partial archive here). By “exit,” Srinivasan is referring to opting out of societal norms, technology, regulations, conventional thinking, etc. The Libertarian-turned-Republican has long expressed his desire to “exit” the country in favor of “an opt-in society, ultimately outside the U.S., run by technology.”

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Trump has been on the record about wanting to revamp the FDA and lower drug costs, so maybe someone like Srinivasan, with his just-a-bit-outside-the-box approach and a willingness to consider alternatives to firmly established institutions like the taxi, is just the FDA Director the marijuana industry needs to finally be looked at as a true medical alternative in the eyes of the United States Government.

Originally written by Duke London:

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