U.S.: Attorney General Jeff Sessions Continues to Deny Cannabis Science

Jeff Sessions, Prohibitionist

United States Attorney General Jeff Sessions vows medical cannabis has no medicinal value and science still contradicts his stance

By Michael Bachara
Hemp News

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, the ever outspoken cannabis prohibitionist, has been pushing for Congressional permission to prosecute medical cannabis providers in states that have legalized the drug for medical use.

AG Sessions, who points to America’s “historic drug epidemic” to justify the crackdown, denies extensive research showing medical cannabis access lowers rates of opioid-related overdose.

In a recent study, which analyzed hospitalization records from 1997 to 2014 in 27 states, researchers from the University of California San Diego found hospitalization rates of people suffering from painkiller abuse and addiction dropped on average 23 percent in states that offered medical cannabis.

“Medical marijuana laws may have reduced hospitalizations related to opioid pain relievers," Yuyan Shi, the study’s author and University of California San Diego public health professor, said. “This study and a few others provided some evidence regarding the potential positive benefits of legalizing marijuana to reduce opioid use and abuse, but they are still preliminary.”

There have been other studies that have analyzed the connection between medical marijuana and reduced opioid prescriptions, including one published n the journal JAMA Internal Medicine in 2014 that found a 25 percent decrease in opioid overdose deaths in states with legal medical marijuana.

Tom Angell, chairman of the national advocacy group Marijuana Majority, thinks, “If Sessions is planning a crackdown, it’s going to create even more political problems for an already beleaguered administration.”

“The President promised repeatedly during the campaign to respect local marijuana policies, and huge majorities of voters—across party lines—support letting states implement their own laws without federal interference. This is a fight that the administration should not want to pick," Angell said.

“I have been waiting for the other shoe to drop,” says Keith Stroup, founder of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML), in Washington D.C. He feels that Sessions, who once declared that “good people don’t smoke marijuana,” will find ways to “throw a monkey wrench into the regulatory systems in place in the full legalization states.”

Recently, a Quinnipiac poll found that 94 percent of Americans now favor legalizing medical cannabis under a doctor’s care, and 61 percent support legalizing recreational use.

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