Every four to eight years the supplement industry is forced to ask the question, “How are the new president’s policies going to affect regulatory controls on dietary and sports nutrition supplements?”
Of course, it isn’t only when presidents enter the White House that concerns run high.
Other legislative bodies have their moods and phases which the supplement industry is obligated to watch very closely.
But with Donald Trump, the mystery is somewhat more of an issue than with other presidents and legislative entities.
Donald Trump has no history as a politician. He has no public voting record on issues related to food, drugs, nutrition, law, or medicine. What’s more, he has a reputation for being rather rash- even if only superficially.
Trump’s eccentric behavior on the campaign trail and his history as a sensationalist reality TV star don't exactly inspire confidence in those who hope to see regulations that have a major impact on their livelihoods controlled by someone with a level head.
But there is some reason to think that the Trump administration may not be all downhill for the supplements industry.
Because he has no political experience, and few to zero connections with the dietary supplements industry, the big question is, what is his stance on drugs- and how similar in his mind are supplements to drugs?
Answering these two questions may set leaders in the supplement market off on a good start toward anticipating what the 45th president will do.
How The Donald Trump Supplements Stance on Drugs Will Affect Supplement Manufacturers
Donald Trump grew up in a protestant church and, according to him- has never touched illicit drug once, has scarcely ever touched alcohol and has never even tried cigarettes.
This may make him seem like a potential drug warrior, but there’s more to the story.
When he was a young man, Donald Trump had an older brother- ten years his senior.
His older brother was talented, handsome, and well educated- but he struggled with alcohol. He died from cirrhosis of the liver after years of battling his dependency.
Donald Trump was with his brother in his final days and he reports that his elder sibling implored him never to touch drugs or alcohol.
During the last twelve months, we have heard Mr. Trump say many times that he has always lived very clean and that the only alcohol he touches is the wine served at religious services.
As far as his policies go, unfortunately, there’s still not very much to go on.
He has appointed Jeff Sessions to the position of Attorney General. Sessions, famously, advocated for the reduction- but not the elimination of sentencing for persons convicted of crimes involving possession or use of crack cocaine.
He voted against punishments widely regarded as cruel, degrading and inhumane punishment such as extended periods of time in solitary confinement while in custody.
These positions might seem to place Sessions in line with the idea that drug abuse is more of a medical issue than a criminal issue.
This may indicate that he will be less prone to view health supplement industry as something that warrants stricter federal control.
Sessions has also advocated for civil forfeiture laws which allow law enforcement to confiscate possessions and cash from private citizens if they suspect those items might be used in the commission of a crime.
A person need not be convicted of a crime to have their property seized under civil forfeiture provisions- they need only to be a suspect in a potential crime.
While it may seem unrelated to supplements- these types of provisions are arguably contrary to notions of individual sovereignty and property rights.
This type of disregard for the rights of the individual are quite compatible with ideas about regulating what a person has and has not a right to put into his or her body- and could potentially be an ill omen for the supplement industry.
This, in addition to the fact that Donald Trump has spoken out in favor of private prisons, may seem to bode ill.
Private prisons have been a major force in the arbitrary imprisonment of people arrested on minor drug charges.
This is because private prisons have an incentive to take more prisoners, and they lobby for the stricter regulation of all sorts of substances and methods of use. This could easily have an adverse effect on supplement manufacturers, distribution centers, and consumers.
It is hoped, however, that Trump’s apparent openness to the medical uses of marijuana may indicate that he would take a more nuanced view where positive health outcomes are possible.
So far, we’re getting mixed messages from the Trump administration about his approach to the supplements industry.
But there have been more clues given in recent interviews which may shed a positive light on the new president for supplement manufacturers.
He has said that he and his appointees are keeping a close eye on Colorado and their legalization of marijuana.
He has said that he is aware of the many wonderful medical benefits it can have- especially in the treatment of cancer.
This shows that the new president may be open to the subtleties of these issues. And may be willing to listen to the arguments of those developing and distributing new health supplements.
The consensus view is that Trump’s attitude toward business- as both a republican and a businessman- will be to shirk over-regulation.
This is the best news the supplement industry could hear as it would leave room for the development of new products and possibly open new vending avenues for existing sports and dietary supplements.
Donald Trump has had very little connection with the dietary supplement market, making its future under a Trump presidency a matter for debate. The president doesn't care to worry about what the next trending ingredient is in the nutritional supplement industry.
However, his openness to business, his desire to move manufacturing back to the US, and his nuanced position on the marijuana debate could all be good signs.
It is worth noting, however, that Trump’s import tax- aimed at companies that place their manufacturing process offshore- will have a major impact on those companies.
This could trigger a massive return of offshore American supplement producers to the US.
For the individual nutraceutical manufacturesr, the effect of the next four to eight years on their business will depend heavily on where their factories are located, what health supplements they produce, and- considering Trump’s affinity for marketing- how they are advertised.