Jeff Sessions Claims Marijuana Only "Slightly Less Awful" Than Heroin

This article was produced in collaboration with AlterNet and first appeared here.

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions once again displayed his ignorance about drugs Wednesday as he claimed that marijuana is "only slightly less awful" than heroin. In the same speech, he acknowledged rising heroin and prescription opioid overdose death levels, but failed to note that no one dies from overdosing on marijuana.

The US attorney general made more inflammatory remarks about marijuana on Wednesday. (senate.gov)
Heroin produces physical addiction and is linked to thousands of overdose drug deaths each year. Marijuana does not produce physical addiction, and although it may lead to psychological dependency for a small percentage of users, the dependency rate is much lower than it is even for users of alcohol and tobacco, both of which are more dangerous than marijuana.

Sessions' uninformed claim is likely to increase jitters in the country's nascent legal marijuana industry as it confronts an attorney general whose rhetoric so far has strongly suggested he would like to crack down on legal weed -- although he has yet to take any concrete steps to do so.

Sessions made the claim in prepared remarks for a speech to state, local, and federal law enforcement in Richmond, Virginia. The long-time foe of marijuana and marijuana law reform again sketched his stance toward pot, saying "life-wrecking dependency" on marijuana is "only slightly less awful" than heroin addiction.

I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana -- so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that's only slightly less awful. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.

Sessions would not be so "astonished" at the notion that access to marijuana lead to declines in opioid overdose deaths if he actually followed the field. At least three recent studies have found a link: A 2014 Johns Hopkins study found that states with medical marijuana laws have a 25% lower opioid death rate than other states; a 2015 RAND study found a decline in opioid deaths of between 16% and 31% in states that had medical marijuana dispensaries; and a 2016 Health Affairs study found that doctors in medical marijuana states wrote fewer opioid prescriptions for Medicaid patients.

Actual science notwithstanding, Sessions suggested he was prepared to embark on a 21st Century version of Nancy Reagan's "Just Say No" and the "this is your brain on drugs" anti-drug propaganda campaigns of the 1980s:

In the '80s and '90s, we saw how campaigns stressing prevention brought down drug use and addiction. We can do this again. Educating people and telling them the terrible truth about drugs and addiction will result in better choices. We can reduce the use of drugs, save lives and turn back the surge in crime that inevitably follows in the wake of increased drug abuse.

But if Sessions wants to educate Americans on "the terrible truth" about drugs, he should probably start with himself. An attorney general who cannot recognize the difference between marijuana and heroin is not one who is fit to pronounce on such matters.

Richmond, VA
United States
Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Just say no to racism and ignorance!

Jeff Sessions is a known racisrt who continues to lock up people of color for a benign plant at rates that are four times that of whites.  He ignores the evidence that his actions will kill many Americans who are forced to the street for treatment of pain.  There, they will become addicted and overdose without access to a more benign treatment for pain that does not kill by overdose.  Apparently the fake doctors at the DEA know better than the real ones at the AMA who reported findings of less overdoses in those states that allow access to marijuana.  What a despicable excuse for a "public servant" that promotes the new republican death squads.

"Crackdowns have other unhealthy side effects. 'When the police shut down a local pill mill, they rarely identify the users and help them get treatment, and heroin and fentanyl dealers are quick to move in to exploit the new business opportunity,' writes New York University professor Mark A.R. Kleiman in the March/April issue of Foreign Affairs. 'In 2014, deaths from overdosing on prescription opioids fell, but deaths from fentanyl overdoses almost doubled.'

It's often said that drugs are a crutch for those who can't cope with reality. Give Sessions credit: He needs no artificial substances to disregard truth."

https://townhall.com/columnists/stevechapman/2017/03/19/opioid-deaths-another-drug-war-failure-n2300615?utm_source=thdaily&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=nl&newsletterad=

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