Jeff Sessions Can't Handle the Truth About Marijuana

The attorney general claims he is willing to be refuted by science. His history suggests otherwise.



Last week White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer suggested that marijuana legalization contributes to opioid abuse. "When you see something like the opioid addiction crisis blossoming in so many states around this country," he said, "the last thing we should be doing is encouraging people" by allowing recreational use of marijuana. As critics such as NORML's Paul Armentano and Washington Post drug policy blogger Christopher Ingraham pointed out, Spicer had things backward: The evidence suggests that loosening marijuana prohibition results in less consumption of opioids.

No way, says Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who seems to be planning a crackdown on state-licensed marijuana businesses. During a speech to the National Association of Attorneys General yesterday, Sessions mocked the notion that "marijuana is a cure for opiate abuse":

Give me a break. This is the kind of argument that has been made out there. It's just almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even its benefits. I doubt that's true. Maybe science will prove I'm wrong. But at this point in time, you and I have a responsibility to use our best judgment, that which we've learned over a period of years, and speak truth as best we can.

While the evidence that marijuana works as a treatment for opioid abuse is inconclusive, several studies have found an association between medical marijuana laws and reductions in opioid prescriptions, opioid-related deaths, and fatally injured drivers testing positive for opioids. These results make sense to the extent that marijuana can be substituted for narcotics as a way of relieving physical or emotional pain, a switch than can be expected to reduce serious side effects because marijuana is safer.

Although Sessions claims he is open to refutation by science, he clearly has not bothered to look at the research. Such incuriosity is consistent with the former Alabama senator's history as a diehard drug warrior who knows lots of things that aren't so. Consider his outrage a few years ago when President Obama publicly conceded that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. Although there is plenty of evidence to support that conclusion, it did not jibe with Sessions' anti-pot prejudices, so he could not accept it:

I have to tell you, I'm heartbroken to see what the president said just a few days ago. It's stunning to me. I find it beyond comprehension….This is just difficult for me to conceive how the president of the United States could make such a statement as that….Did the president conduct any medical or scientific survey before he waltzed into The New Yorker and opined contrary to the positions of attorneys general and presidents universally prior to that?

Sessions tried to rebut Obama's statement about the relative hazards of marijuana and alcohol by declaring that "Lady Gaga says she's addicted to [marijuana] and it is not harmless." Putting aside the merits of treating Lady Gaga as an expert on the effects of marijuana, or of extrapolating from this sample of one to the experiences of cannabis consumers generally, Sessions did not seem to understand that Substance A can be less dangerous than Substance B without being harmless. To say that marijuana is less hazardous than alcohol by several important measures (including impairment of driving ability, the risk of a fatal overdose, and the long-term damage caused by heavy use) is not the same as saying that marijuana is 100 percent safe.

Either Sessions does not grasp that basic point, or he is so determined to justify marijuana prohibition that he deliberately obscures it. Is this what he means by "speak[ing] truth as best we can"? Sessions claims supporters of legalization are "desperate" to "defend the harmlessness of marijuana." But it's Sessions who is grasping at straws to defend a policy built on a mountain of lies.

NEXT: Brickbat: Getting Their Attention

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. You want Sessions on that wall. You need sessions on that wall.

  2. And even if marijuana wasn’t safe, so what? Jeff Sessions is supposed to be bringing people who hurt others to justice, not trying to save people from themselves.

    1. “Jeff Sessions is supposed to be bringing people who hurt others to justice, ” Hurting others is irrelevant. His job is to prosecute law violations. Victim or victimless it doesn’t matter.

      Blame congress for the laws…not the peeps whose stated job is to uphold them.

      1. Can we blame the guy who can’t possibly enforce all the laws passed by Congress and so has to decide which laws to prioritize spending his limited resources on enforcing?

        1. Jeff Sessions should receive no blame for choosing which laws he will selectively enforce.

          You’re so stupid, Hugh.

      2. Okay, I blame Congress for writing the laws AND I blame Sessions for enforcing victimless crimes. Just as a jurist has the ability negate a bad law through nullification, Sessions has the ability to not prosecute bad laws. So I will continue to slam Sessions every opportunity I receive.

  3. Listen, I’m not going to defend the guy, but Baby Boomers have been voting for FIFTY YEARS! Isn’t that long enough for that most liberal of generations to have stocked Congress with people who want to legalize marijuana?? Congress — you know — the part of government that actually makes our laws??

    1. Marijuana legalization had to come by way of referendums in the states because the voters had to legalize it over the objections of Democrat legislatures.

      The Democrats in California and Massachusetts have the state government sewn up seven ways to Sunday. If you can’t even get the Democrats in Sacramento to get behind legalization, why think they could do so in Congress?

      there are two main points of resistance to marijuana legalization within the Democratic party. For one, there are the public employee unions–especially the police unions. The Democrats are beholden to them, and they’re largelt against legalization.

      The other point of resistance is that progressives don’t think people should be free to drink sugary soft drinks or eat at McDonalds, much less consume marijuana. If government isn’t there to save us from ourselves, then why be a progressive?

      1. People have every justification to accuse progressives who use criminal law to regulate personal human health choices of being fascists. That being said where I live it’s the conservatives who fight the hardest against moves to decriminalize marijuana and it’s the democrats who support the efforts to reform those laws.

    2. You mean the Ones that sit on they`re Fat Lazy Worthless Asses and Get Paid by the American People to Oppose Anything that the American Want , while standing for the RICH AND THE BOGUS BULL SHITTERS ! It gets More Sickening every Day … You Assholes WORK FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE , YOU BEND TO THE WILL OF THE PEOPLE , NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND …. You Decrepit Old Codgers in Congress need to STEP ASIDE , and Let REAL HUMANS DO YOUR PATHETIC JOBS .. JUDGEMENT DAY IS REALLY GOONA SUCK FOR ALL YOU POLITICAL SLIME …

    3. And we also have — you know — all the lobbyist on K-Street paying huge dollars to Congresspeople to ensure marijuana stays illegal despite what the citizens want. Just as medical marijuana has lowered opioid addiction/abuse, it has lowered sales of opioids. Chart how much money has been given to Congresspeople in states that have/are looking into legalization by Big Pharma.

  4. Yeah, if opposing marijuana is wrong, Sessions doesn’t want to be right.

    The pressure to respect state laws needs to come from Trump himself. There are a couple of problems with hoping Trump will push Sessions hard on that, too–including few Trump loyalist alternatives to Sessions.

    As always, since Watergate, the primary responsibility of the Attorney General is to protect the president from scandal. Sessions got the job because he was the only Trump loyalist with legitimate influence moving forward.

    The other loyalists (Palin, Bolton, Christie, Giuliani, Gingrich, Bolton) were all has-beens.

    Before you can scare Sessions with replacement if he doesn’t come to heel, there needs to be a viable replacement. Trump can’t appoint somebody else to that job if he can’t trust him or her to watch his back, and just about everybody else in Washington DC would love to see Trump fall on his face.

  5. This is all nonsense. Sessions job is to uphold the Federal laws. We WANT the AG to follow the strict read of the law and not pursue political agendas.

    The anger and resentment over pot legalization should be at the legislatures. Both Federal and State. That is where the power lies and that is where repeatedly we have see complete moral cowardous.
    On the State level we see political hacks beholden to the National parties, who weave asinine State laws that do nothing beyond muddle the discussion. Stand up for States rights or abdicate your jobs, you weak little hacks.
    On the Fed level we see a complete abdication of responsibility. Beyond crony kickback schemes laden into 1000-page bills to rename a bridge, Congress has done almost nothing of consequence.

    Direct your anger and resentment where it is deserved. Sessions is not the problem, and having an AG that follows the written law will be an enormous improvement over the last few.

    1. Sessions is exactly the kind of person who I should blame for this vile fascist drug war. The man has spent his entire political life pushing fascist drug laws and now he’s going to use the power of the AG to do more of the same. I can blame Congress and also especially this asshole.

    2. Sure. Are you supplying the money for me to “donate” to my Congresspeople? I figure I will need about $100M to start with. I am sure Big Pharma is in for more than that, but we need to start somewhere. I hope you are aware, like most people here, that Congresspeople vote according to the highest bidder, which is not the constituents.

    3. We WANT the AG to follow the strict read of the law

      You, maybe.

  6. The solution is simple, but difficult.
    The federal legislature has to pass a bill that states the devil weed marijuana has medicinal uses, and is no longer considered a class 1 drug. As soon as it is no longer illegal at the federal level, Sessions will move on the the next big thing in law enforcement.

    1. You mean the next big LIE ..

    2. As soon as it is no longer illegal at the federal level, Sessions will move on the the next big thing in law enforcement.

      That would probably be the “War on Human Trafficking.” Or, put another way, “let’s spend another hundreds of millions of dollars a year combating a problem that barely exists. But so what, as long as the police and prison guard unions are happy!”

    3. De-Regulate it, and quit wasting money on this stupid weed. Period.


  8. I know it’s been said before, but it’s worth repeating:

    Christ, what an asshole.

  9. But at this point in time, you and I have a responsibility to use our best judgment, that which we’ve learned over a period of years, and speak truth as best we can.

    Sounds like he’s advocating they proceed according to feelings that are “pretty anecdotal, and not so scientifically based.”

  10. Jeff Sessions was a shill for Big Tobacco in the 80s and 90s. That doesn’t sound like a guy that cares about the health of the public.

  11. Too often folks cite only the science they like. Marijuana does have some medical benefits but there are also side effects. A friend of mine took Marijuana tablets for a time for prostate cancer but he became so dis-oriented that he had to quit. Others smoke it not realizing that when THC is heated it causes the high sensation which by itself causes orientation to be distorted and that can lead to serious accidents or death. Other side effects is the dimunition of Testosterone and the lowering of sperm counts in men as well as DNA abnormalitied. Anytime you inhale smoke of any kind you are receiving carcinogens which lead to lung cancer as well as other cancers of organs and blood. There is a ton of info out there that you need to consider carefully before you use a product that contains dangerous alkaloids which Marijuana and Tobacco both possess. Even after perusing the total picture many foolishly adopt habits that bring on addiction and a future of health problems that could be avoided by exercising self-control.

  12. Jeff Sessions, the biggest dumpkin ever to hold office! He says “er, smart people dont smoke pot”.. you prohibitionist, inbred fool! Tell that to people like Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, Dr. Bob Melamede, Dr. David Allen, Dr. Lester Grinspoon, Dr. Bonni Goldstein, Dr. Sanjay Gupta (duh, do you know that guy Jayuff?), T these doctors alone have proved to the WORLD that we humans have an Endocannabinoid system, which regulates the health & function of ALL organs via the CB1 receptors in the brain/cns, which send essential human cannabinoids via the CB2 receptors to all organs of the body for complete & total nourishment. We as a species have been Endocannabinoid deficient SINCE prohibition! SO ALL WHO HAVE DIED FROM CANCER CAN CURSE NIXON FOR ONE, he kept the cure from us when his research team discovered that THC and Cannabinoids cause cancer cell apoptosis! His “drug war” and ego was more important than mankind’s full nourishment! The most studied plant on the face of Earth with the most medical and nutritional uses & safe. There is NO LD50 with Cannabis! One can not die from it unless a Ton fell on your head. No liver failure, no kidney failure, no lung failure, just a better night’s sleep, relief from PTSD symptoms, reversing Alzheimer’s, slowing down & improving motor skills for MS sufferers, Parkinson’s sufferer’s & the list goes on. Gary Johnson said it best “listen, lets not get wrapped up in terms like ‘Medical’ or ‘Recreational’, bottom line, its NUTRITIONAL and SAFE”.

    1. Do we own our blood brain barriers? or do we not! NO one should have to move halfway across the nation for the safest cure to so many problems, espeically when they have exhausted all of big pharma’s poisonous, horrid side effect pills, half the time, that do NOT work to begin with, but instead bring on a miriad of more side effects/problems ! Prohibitionists have caused the early death of many good human beings with thier failed policies! Big pharma, alcohol & tobacco believe chemo is the way, what a load of garbage, learned from whom? yes the Nazis..side effects include too many to list! Enough of the lies of prohibitionists & thier BS organizations such as NIDA (who only study the “harmfull effects”, there is NONE with Cannabis), Gee what is Anandamide? You mean its found in mother’s milk?, you mean we have been Endo Cannabinoid Deficient since prohibtion? You mean they are still asking for cancer research money? LOL! Wake up and stop believing liar politicians/prohibitionists. Cannabis oil cures cancer & much more! No need to spend more money studing it, the proof has already been proven! Big LP’s/govt produce is garbage, Canada proved this to the world recently! We the people own ourselves! Gee, where’d this opioid epidemic come from? You mean the war in the middle east? No way our soldiers protect those “bad people”, here have some oxys, & dont question big pharma, they know whats bayest. Smart people didnt invent smart phones or computers, they didnt smoke pot, lmao!

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.