GOP Senator: FDA Gottlieb’s views on weed, tobacco & vaping ‘raise suspicion’
Is the banning of menthol cigarettes and flavored vaping products a secret plan by the FDA to make way for legalized marijuana at the federal level? At least one Republican politician recently took to the Senate floor expressing his fears that this might be the case.
In a speech last Thursday, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) complained openly about the way in which the U.S. Food and Drug Administration is aggressively attacking the menthol tobacco industry. According to the agency’s Commissioner Scott Gottlieb, the ban might be implemented as a deterrent to underage smoking. Coincidentally, Gottlieb often threatens to regulate vaping out of existence, too, and with the very same reasoning.
Senator Burr and his FDA weed-menthol theory
But Senator Burr is from North Carolina, deep in the heart of tobacco country. And he isn’t taking these FDA attacks laying down. According to the congressional record, the senator is accusing both Gottlieb and the FDA of governmental overreach and quite possibly an old “bait-and-switch” tactic designed to facilitate the implementation of federally legalized marijuana.
“Well, Mr. Commissioner, you are only fueling my fears that you are following the roadmap Canada followed; that this is all a bait-and-switch situation. Not only is it not valid to suggest we are doing this because of our youth, you are doing it to prove that the Food and Drug Administration can overreach and not be slapped and that somewhere down the road you may come to the same conclusion Canada did; rather than enforce cannabis and illegal drugs, let's just approve them. Let's make them legal.”
Last year, Canada became the second nation in the world behind Uruguay to legalize marijuana at the federal level. Canada made the move even amid accusations from Russia’s Vladimir Putin that the pro-pot legislative action would be in violation of international law.
Senator Burr goes on to explain that just three years prior, the Canadian government instituted a nationwide ban on menthol tobacco products. Is Gottlieb simply mimicking Canada’s past legislative history with weed, menthol, and indirectly, vaping?
“I mentioned Canada earlier. They banned menthol and, 3 years later, they approved cannabis as a legal product. I am not accusing the administration of having that pathway, though it does raise suspicion because it is not the administration of reduced regulation and onerous government when you see what the FDA is proposing to a legal consumer product, but I will state that the Commissioner announced not long ago that they were beginning to review products that were derived from cannabis, oils, and other things that they thought they could safely approve for use in the United States.”
Burr ‘s rather lengthy speech notes another interesting point. Why is it that the Trump Administration has spent so much of the last two years reducing regulations on the coal, gas, and manufacturing industries, but the FDA and Gottlieb continue to raise the regulatory stakes on the tobacco industry simultaneously?
Furthermore, he suggests, if combustible tobacco is so bad, then why does combustible cannabis always seem to get a free pass? To Burr, the hypocrisy is unexplainable.
“This year, they (Canada) legalized cannabis. Maybe that is the route we are on. We can have that debate at any point, but right now, that is illegal in the United States, and we put up with it with States that have legalized it. I am not sure it is a good move for adults, and I am not sure it is a good move for our youth. It certainly has the same combustible concerns we have with tobacco products. But there is a difference between the two--this is legal. We have agreed that if you are over 18, you can choose to use it--with an extensive educational campaign to tell everybody why it is harmful to their health.”
The Republican senator pledged to continue bringing light to this controversial issue. He made similar remarks about legal weed versus menthol tobacco on the Senate floor last month. While vaping and e-cigarettes were not directly referenced in Burr’s Thursday speech, Gottlieb often connects menthol cigarette bans with possible FDA prohibitions on flavored vaping. If Burr and others like him can successfully convince other political officials of Gottlieb’s conspiratorial methods, then maybe their collective views on vaping will begin to change for the positive as well.
(Image courtesy of Business Insider)