My name is Dr. Michael Masterman-Smith.
I am a cancer biologist and pharmacologist.

I am running for the U.S. House of Representatives in California’s 25th district, a district shaping up to be one of the most influential and hotly contested races in the 2018 election cycle.
 
I am not a professional politician but I have a unique and much needed perspective on some of the most important issues of our time. My research on tumor-initiating cells (also known as cancer stem cells) not only transformed cancer research, it sped the development of better cures for the disease. Working on the frontlines in the war on cancer I know the remarkable achievements we can make in healthcare and understand it’s failures. I will take this same pioneering spirit to Washington to fix our country’s most vexing problems.

Good policies are based on effectiveness and outcome, not ideology. Today, Americans need evidence based policymaking, an affordable healthcare system, a modern economy that produces high paying 21st century jobs, a coherent national security policy, and a practical, enforceable environmental plan.

Washington is no longer financially accountable.  Tax breaks that increase our deficit, enrich America’s top 1%, and further erode the financial stability of the middle class are unacceptable. This predatory capitalism clear cuts the middle class.  It is corrosive, dangerous, and is as unsustainable as strip mining or long line fishing.

HEALTHCARE

We have the most expensive healthcare system in the world but not the best. We get prescribed the most drugs and we’re not getting healthier. In order to provide functional, cost-effective healthcare for all Americans, first we need to fix an overpriced and dysfunctional system.  Many of these are pharmacological problems of our own design and need a pharmacologist like myself to fix them.

Our healthcare system in some ways has lost its way. Our elected representatives tasked with taking care of our health and well being only know so much. This has lead American citizens to believe there is a pill to cure anything that afflicts us. This is not good medicine.

One of my first acts in office will be to introduce the Comprehensive Healthcare Improvement and Economic Accountability Act (CHIEAA).  This bill aims to clean up the mess created by years of misguided drug and healthcare policies that have led America to be the most drug addled nation in the history of humankind. 

MEDICAL CANNABIS

Cannabis was a valuable plant-based medicine used for many conditions into the 1930s. It’s main active compounds, psychoactive THC and non-psychoactive CBD, have over 100 natural chemical variants. Its overall effects, though not completely understood, are mediated by an internal endocannabinoid system found throughout the body. The end of cannabis prohibition is bringing some unexpected results and impacts to healthcare are emerging to be multifold. Medical cannabis is beginning to fill in gaps in our healthcare system, relieving both common and hard-to-treat conditions. It is projected to save billions in healthcare costs each year in states where it is legal for medical use. It is time for the United States to unleash the talents and skills of our scientists, doctors and farmers to put this valuable natural medicine to work in improving healthcare.

As a provision in the Comprehensive Healthcare Improvement and Economic Accountability Act I will sponsor a rational federal medical cannabis policy. This part of the act will bring: 1) a desperately needed drug policy overhaul, 2) public, private and military insurance coverage of cannabis medicine for all, 3) better direction for the FDA in facilitating cannabis medicine, 4) support for medical training and research to support cannabis medicine and 5) harmonization of state, federal and tribal medical cannabis programs w/ national healthcare priorities.

OVERMEDICATION CRISIS

A healthier America is not that difficult to achieve. It takes common sense policies and sound practices. Better healthcare is not simply a matter of prescribing more pharmaceutical drugs.

The National Institute of Drug Abuse reports Americans consume 75% of the world’s drugs. Nearly three in five adults in the U.S. are on prescription drug at any given time. In seniors over-medication is unfortunately all too common. A third of American seniors take five or more prescription drugs per day, and up 20% of these prescriptions are inappropriate. This results in up to 100,000 emergency hospitalizations each year from common drug overuse in seniors.

While some drugs are lifesaving and improve our health and well-being, simply increasing the number and volume of prescription drugs that Americans receive each year is not the way good medicine works. The common sense Veterans Overmedication Prevention Act is intended to address the links between over-medication and high rates of suicide among our veterans. It is a good start. In Congress, I will take the lead to make sound policies that reduce our over-medication crisis, reduce wasteful medical costs and improve the quality of American healthcare.

OPIOID EPIDEMIC

Prescription opioids now kill 164 Americans every day. The system we trusted to protect us failed completely. Worse, the leadership on this dire and complex issue is sorely lacking in Washington. I will lead support for the resources to fight this epidemic and push for reforms to a system that allows the clear exploitation of pain and suffering for profit.  I will lead a Congressional investigation into the painkiller industry and force the perpetrators to pay reparations for what they have done to American society.

SCIENCE and TECHNOLOGY

Our nation relies on scientific advancement in order for a strong economy, improved healthcare, effective national security and to remain competitive on the world stage.  Presently, our Congressional Science and Technology committees are not led by scientists.  In fact, many of its members are hostile to the advancement of science and use their political power to gut American scientific leadership, marginalizing the very people who drive innovation. As a scientist, I will work tirelessly to get America back on track so that we are world leaders in science and technology. The high skilled, high paying jobs of the future come from supporting science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields that bring us the industries of the future.

ENVIRONMENT

Today the climate and environmental challenges that we face are a clear and present danger to both the United States of America at home and the human race as a whole.  We cannot afford to suffer the consequences of what Betsy Southerland (former Director of the EPA Office of Science and Technology) best described as “the triumph of myth over truth.”  The idea that basic environmental policies hinder economic growth is a complete and total fallacy. The lack of environmental protection threatens our lives, health, economy and way of life. I will support passage of bills aimed at making the U.S. a world leader in altering the climate metrics that will undermine habitability on the earth. Our viability as a nation will depend on it.

NATIONAL SECURITY

Today, seventeen years into the Global War on Terror, America is in the midst of suffering from what historian Paul Kennedy described as “imperial overstretch.”  Although U.S. forces conduct active military operations in the Middle East, Europe, Africa, and Asia, we do not have clear policy objectives.  America needs a coherent national security policy with clear and obtainable goals that improve the position and status of the U.S. in the world and be a stabilizing force.

We have to look at climate change as a national security issue. Drought and extreme, unpredictable weather threaten food supplies, water sources and energy security. Responding to the effects of climate change will continue to be a high cost diversion to our military forces, especially the Navy and Coast Guard.  The floating variable posed by weather can destabilize fragile governments and increase threat levels from those who exploit human crises to gain new recruits. I will treat climate change as the economic and national security issue that it is.  I will push for the policies recommended by the National Climate Assessment and support efforts for the United States to re-enter the Paris Climate Accords.

GUN VIOLENCE

Mass shootings are growing increasingly common in America. Sadly, it is easy for an American to obtain a military grade weapon and commit mass murder.  We cannot allow our families to be gunned down because of gaping holes in our gun policies.  We need background checks, waiting periods and a coherent and functional system in place to prevent the 12 billion rounds of ammunition and the 300 million guns in America from being used for mechanized slaughter.  There is also a strong mental health component to this issue and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) needs to be unleashed on this public health nightmare.  I support lifting the Dickey Amendment as a rider to the Labor-Health and Human Services-Education Appropriations Bill so the CDC can research gun violence.

EDUCATION

American education is failing to prepare our future generations to carry out their civic responsibilities and our students fall further and further behind the rest of the world.  In 2015, our high school students ranked 41st in math, 24th in reading and 25th in science internationally. This is alarming.

My mother was a teacher of reading and special education. I know firsthand what good teaching entails and what the rewards are.  I’m also well aware that career teachers are more marginalized than ever before and suffering due to misguided management.  It is a national responsibility to provide teachers at all levels with a living wage and the full confidence of our support, by giving them a system oriented around them and our children instead of maintaining middle management.

Higher education is now falling prey to a business model of constant expansion that leaves the vital role of education behind.  Twenty-five percent of part-time university professors have fallen victim to “the gig economy” and live at or below the poverty line. These valuable specialists in our society should be inspiring and training the next generation of American innovators not worrying where their next meal is coming from.

We can transform education.  As one of the first of a new type of scientist, I was trained to integrate life science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. I know how to bring systemic transformation and will champion policies that support our educators and equip our young minds for success in the 21st century.

THREAT OF NUCLEAR WARFARE

We cannot afford to fumble the nuclear football.  Today, the President of the United States can unilaterally decide to wage a nuclear war.  This is a dangerous, unconstitutional, and outdated policy that must be changed.  In Congress, I will support the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act that will require a Congressional majority to authorize the use of nuclear force before the military can execute a presidential order for a nuclear strike.

WOMEN’S RIGHTS

We are two states away from ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment.  It will be a historic day for the civil rights movement when the Women’s Equal Rights Amendment is passed.  Women deserve equal pay for equal work, reproductive health rights, and protection from the kind of brutality that hurts and denigrates our society.

FIRST NATION

PORTER RANCH

I will spearhead a federal investigation into the Aliso Canyon methane leak and the health problems caused by it.  Because the facility sits on the same fault line as the historic Northridge earthquake, we will also examine the overall safety of the facility and the risk of additional leaks.  Above all, we will hold the owners accountable.  I will support Rep. Brad Sherman’s (CA-30) proposed changes in natural gas storage policy and support the creation of the country’s first comprehensive national gas storage laws. We need to prevent what happened to the Porter Ranch residents from happening to other Americans.

SANTA SUSANA FIELD LAB

I will push for the clean up of toxic and nuclear waste from my district’s Santa Susana Field Laboratory and will not rest until it is a habitable site.  Due to the worst nuclear disaster in U.S. history, and a half century of nuclear power and rocket testing, nuclear and toxic waste has built up and rates of cancer and other illnesses remain high in this area. The present state of this site is unacceptable.  While the federal government has agreed to do its part in the clean-up, owners of the most affected areas have recently announced their abdication of responsibility by rejecting state clean-up mandates.  Located at the headwaters of the Los Angeles River and home to the Chumash Burro Flats Painted Caves, the site presents an historic opportunity to balance technological progress in an environmentally and culturally fragile environment.  The site can be a shining example of our ability to clean up our messes while simultaneously advancing our culture, ecology and commitment to the technologies needed to power our future.  I will support a plan to transform these hallowed grounds into a Renewable Energy Technology Campus. I will support the preservation of the Santa Susana test stands used to develop the rockets which launched satellites, took humans to the moon, and made the Space Shuttle the world’s first renewable space vehicle. I will also support a memorial to those who perished from their work at the site while ushering in the nuclear age.

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