Jeff Sessions

Sessions Continues to Push 'Gateway Drug' Myth About Marijuana

"Much of the addiction starts with marijuana."

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Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto/Sipa/Newscom

U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions continued his increasingly lonely crusade against marijuana today, warning that the U.S. has strayed too far from the "just say no" mantra of the 1980s, to our mortal peril.

In remarks this morning at the conservative Heritage Foundation, Sessions lamented the country's increasing nonchalance about pot. "I do think this whole country needs to not be so lackadaisical about drugs. Much of the addiction starts with marijuana," Sessions said. "It is not a harmless drug." (Jacob Sullum's comprehensive 2003 article on the "gateway drug" theory is here. In more recent developments, opioid overdoses in Colorado have fallen by six percent since the state legalized recreational marijuana, after 14 years of steady increases.)

Happily, Sessions' concerns are increasingly falling on deaf ears, even in his own party. As Reason reported Wednesday, a new Gallup poll found record high support for marijuana legalization—including, for the first time, a majority of Republicans. According to the survey, 64 percent of all American adults, including 51 percent of Republicans, think the drug should be legal.

Sessions has always been a hardline supporter of the war on drugs, but a federal crackdown against states that have legalized marijuana for recreational and medicinal use has yet to materialize. In August, the Justice Department's Task Force on Crime Reduction and Public Safety did not recommend any major changes to the 2013 memo outlining a largely hands-off approach to marijuana enforcement in states that have legalized it.

However, in separate comments today during an interview with conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, Sessions said he still believes those states are in direct conflict with federal law, though he couldn't comment on ongoing Justice Department investigations or pushback against state marijuana programs.

"I do not believe there is any argument that because a state legalizes marijuana that the federal law against marijuana is no longer existence," he continued. "I do believe that the federal laws clearly are in effect in all 50 states and we will do our best to enforce the laws as we are required to do so."

In lieu of putting the kibosh on state marijuana regimes, Sessions has called for a return to "just say no" anti-drug messaging of yesteryear. But as I wrote earlier this year, his nostalgia for the D.A.R.E. program does not quite square with the facts:

It's more than a bit generous to attribute declining drug use to factors like the Justice Department's devastating war on crack and commercials where the Ninja Turtles tell kids not to smoke reefer. Drug use among teens began declining around 1981, well before the creation of DARE and well before the Reagan administration's amped-up war on narcotics, according to annual surveys by the Monitoring Our Future study.

Teen drug use continued to decline through the '80s, but it started rising again in 1992, when D.A.R.E. was already ubiquitous in school curricula around the country. That rise leveled off around the end of the decade. Reported teen drug use fell and rose slightly again during the 2000s. And then, despite the lamentations of drug warriors like Sessions over the purported perils of marijuana legalization, it started dropping again in 2014.

The National Institutes of Health's most recent annual survey of teenage drug use found marijuana use among teenage age groups either declined or remained steady in 2016, despite the increasing availability of legal marijuana.

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32 responses to “Sessions Continues to Push 'Gateway Drug' Myth About Marijuana

  1. “I do not believe there is any argument that because a state legalizes marijuana that the federal law against marijuana is no longer existence,” he continued.

    Federalism isn’t a core GOP belief.

    1. Federalism isn’t a core GOP belief.

      Do many members of the GOP have any core beliefs to which they adhere?

      1. Pray tell, why do you limit your slam to members of the GOP. That’s laughable in and of itself. Perhaps you’ve forgotten Hillary Clinton’s support for a law banning flag burning. LOL

        1. The difference is that most Dems don’t even make a claim that it is a belief of their party.

        2. Pray tell, why do you limit your slam to members of the GOP. That’s laughable in and of itself. Perhaps you’ve forgotten Hillary Clinton’s support for a law banning flag burning. LOL

          Whilst even individuals who consider themselves my longest friends remark upon my tendency to “limit my slams”, Johnimo, most individuals who have known me for a suitable duration have claimed that I am rather fair-minded.

          Had Fist of Etiquette written “Federalism isn’t a core belief of the Democratic Party.” I could have just as easily responded with “Do many members of the Democratic Party have any core beliefs to which they adhere?”

        3. Because we’re talking about a proud GOPer openly talking about how he doesn’t approve of federalism?

          Is this some sort of ‘fairness doctrine’ bullshit that everytime we mention something shitty one party does we have to add the disclaimer ‘but teh other dudes do it too!!111!’?

  2. Sessions is a wimp who is afraid of the truth. The real gateway drug is beer. Ninety nine percent of marijuana smokers try beer first.

    1. Dude! You mean that Chocolate Porter beer I love — over at Neptune’s Brewery in Livingston, MT — will lead on to more dangerous drugs? I’m pretty satisfied with just the beer.

      1. I said 99% of pot smokers have had a beer, not that 99% of beer drinkers have smoked pot.

        OBTW, I’ve been to the Neptune brewery!

    2. Its not the beer man. Its the water that it contains. 100% of marijuana users have tried water at one point in their lives. In addition, water is so habit-forming that once you start you will literally die if you stop using it?

      We need to ban the water in beer.

  3. “I thought those guys [the Ku Klux Klan] were OK until I learned they smoked pot.” – Jeff Sessions

    Pure scum is what this shitbag is.

    1. Reliable witnesses to his remark have confirmed that he was making a joke when he spoke. It was during the preparation on the trial that Sessions was prosecuting against a Klansman, whom he helped convict of murder.

      Is Session an idiot for his views in some areas (pot for one)? Sure he is, but you’re taking his quote entirely out of context, and I think you know it.

      1. Taking his quote entirely out of context

        Yeah, like he does with data related to drugs.

  4. “I do not believe there is any argument that because a state legalizes marijuana that the federal law against marijuana is no longer existence,” he continued. “I do believe that the federal laws clearly are in effect in all 50 states and we will do our best to enforce the laws as we are required to do so.”

    Well … about the purely legal matter, he is 100% correct.

    At least he wants merely pointless DARE crap, not a Federal crackdown.

    Congress, of course, could fix this problem in a day, if it wished to craft a bill doing so…

  5. Thank god he’s not black like Holder and Lynch. I mean black. I mean black. Fuck. Anyway, at least he’s not black.

    1. He’s southern. Same thing.

      1. +touch-of-the-tarbrush

    2. If he was black, he could run fast and furious.

  6. In the addiction and abuse department, drugs ain’t got shit on power. I’ve heard of junkies doing some nasty degrading revolting stuff for a fix, but nothing like what a politician will do to get elected.

    1. Woooo-Hoooo!!!!

      +999,999,999!!!!!

  7. Sessions said he still believes those states are in direct conflict with federal law

    Sessions would have to be some sort of dope-addled moron to believe otherwise.

  8. “Much of the addiction starts with marijuana.”

    Actually it starts with alcohol.

    1. Seems like a lot starts with getting fucked by ones own dad.

    2. It starts with tit milk. And then among all the things we eat, drink, or smoke in life, weed is like the least addictive.

      1. Yeah man, gotta agree, you beat me to posting this exact thought!!!!

        1. Food addiction is killing far more of us fuckers than heroin or marijaneuana

        2. Exactly. I’ve been toking for 41 years and I’m not addicted.

  9. I think this is an excellent time for the legislature, which is looking for ways to cut federal expenditures, to look closely at ol’ Jeffy and his band of merry men.

  10. Much of the addiction . . .

    Old people are funny. Unless they have power, in which case they’re murderous.

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