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Reality Suppression for Drugs

To me, the fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions lied under oath should instantly disqualify him from being our nation’s top law enforcement official.

But here’s another reason to get rid of him.

Sessions is on record against medical marijuana. At a conference last week, Sessions said:

I see a line in The Washington Post today that I remember from the ’80s, “Marijuana is a cure for opiate abuse.” Give me a break. This is the kind of argument that’s been made out there to 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.

The problem with this is that Sessions is in favor of keeping marijuana classified as a Schedule 1 controlled substance, which means that the government says that it has no medically accepted use. As a result, it is extremely difficult for science to do any actual studies on marijuana. It takes years, or in some cases more than a decade, to get the required federal approvals.

So Sessions is being disingenuous when he says that maybe science will prove him wrong, because he won’t let science even do their job.

But while there have been almost no controlled medical studies on marijuana, there is plenty of evidence that Sessions is totally wrong.

In 2015, opioid pain killers did more than kill pain. They killed 33,000 people. That is an epidemic.

Opioids are commonly prescribed for chronic pain, and there is strong evidence that marijuana is effective in controlling chronic pain.

States that have legalized medical marijuana see (on average) 25% fewer deaths from opiate overdose deaths. States with medical marijuana dispensaries see a 15 to 35% decrease in overdose deaths, and similar reductions in admissions to substance abuse treatment centers. So marijuana is less dangerous than current prescription pain killers for treating chronic pain.

As a side benefit, after a state passes a medical marijuana law, there are fewer fatal car crashes where the driver tests positive for opioids.

And most importantly, prescriptions for painkillers drop in medical marijuana states. Patients who use marijuana are 64% less likely to use opiates, and are more likely to say they have a good quality of life and less likely to report negative side effects from their medications.

If Sessions were to say that he would make it easier for studies to be done on the use of marijuana to control pain, and would then accept the results of those studies to decide whether to legalize the medical use of marijuana at the federal level, then I might believe him. As it is, he makes it abundantly clear that he has already made up his mind, without looking at any evidence.

But Sessions’ statement should not be a surprise to anyone. Marijuana was listed as a controlled substance back when it was primarily used by African Americans, and was done for racist reasons. Sessions has ties to white supremacists and his legislative record shows that he is racist. His opposition to medical marijuana is just another example.


Also published on Medium.

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One Comment

  1. ebdoug wrote:

    In 1966, in Berkeley California Alta Bates Hospital, a study was being done on new mothers. Questions asked “Did you use marijuana during pregnancy? If the answer was “yes” they were asked if their children could be followed over the years for ill effects. Twenty years later, it was concluded that there were no ill effects to the offspring.

    My guess is the same thing would be true of tobacco were the 400 carcinogens not be added. Those that get pure tobacco to chew or smoke probably have less ill effects. I have not seen such a study.

    Thursday, March 9, 2017 at 4:39 am | Permalink