The short list: Will Donald Trump appoint a vape-friendly, pro-marijuana FDA Chief?
Several advocacy sites for the legalization of marijuana are reporting confirmation from White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer that Jim O’Neill is on the short list as Donald Trump’s choice to head the U.S. Food and Drug Association (FDA). This would be great news for the weed industry because O’Neill just happens to be a former member of the Board of Directors for the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, a key organization in California’s successful fight to legalize marijuana. O’Neill is also well-known for being a staunch Libertarian, a political party whose platform supports both legalized marijuana and vaping.
But O’Neill is not the only one in the race for FDA Commissioner. Spicer has also confirmed that biotech executive Balaji Srnivasan is also “being considered” for the post. Both O’Neill and Srnivasan are long-time allies and former business associates of billionaire Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal and an early investor in both Facebook and the e-cig company NJOY, which is currently facing bankruptcy. And Peter Thiel has rarely met a federal regulation that he didn’t hate.
Meanwhile, the website iTechPost is further reporting that a third horse may have also entered the race. Dr. Joseph Gulfo is the current executive director of a biotech firm named The Lewis Center for Healthcare Innovation and Technology. And according to the article, Gulfo has recently stated publicly that he has already spoken with the Trump Administration about accepting the FDA appointment.
‘Fixing the FDA is literally a matter of life and death.’
The fourth candidate being considered is a former FDA staffer named Scott Gottlieb. And like many of Trump’s previous picks, Gottlieb is another “rich guy” who just happens to also be a partner at a venture capital fund named New Enterprise Associates.
Are either Gulfo or Gottlieb pro-marijuana, pro-vaping advocates? Their political views on these issues are somewhat unclear, but Gulfo has openly stated that he would "be honored to serve [President Trump] and bring real reform to the FDA" and that "fixing the FDA is literally a matter of life and death."
For the vaping industry, either of these four candidates is far more appealing than the former Head of the FDA, Robert Califf, who vacated the position on Inauguration Day 2017. Califf is largely considered the person most responsible for writing and implementing the controversial FDA deeming regulations that threaten tens of thousands of vape shops and retailers across the nation.