Former President Barack Obama made no effort to stop states that voted to legalize recreational marijuana, but never took to steps legalize the drug at the federal level.
Tuesday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions suggested he will undo everything Obama did:
“We have a responsibility to use our best judgment … and my view is we don’t need to be legalizing marijuana,” he said at the winter meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General.
“I’m dubious about marijuana. I’m not sure we’re going to be a better, healthier nation if we have marijuana sold at every corner grocery store.”
Sessions also talked about an article in The Washington Post that argued that doctors could use marijuana to help those who abuse opiates. Sessions dismissed this claim, saying it’s a “‘desperate attempt’ to defend marijuana and its benefits” and that “[M]aybe science will prove me wrong.”
Something tells me Sessions did not read the article because science and facts suggest otherwise:
A 2016 study by researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health found that states with medical marijuana laws had 25 percent fewer opioid overdose deaths than states that do not have medical marijuana laws. And another study published in Health Affairs last year found that prescriptions for opioid painkillers such as OxyContin, Vicodin and Percocet paid for by Medicare dropped substantially in states that adopted medical marijuana laws.
This is just the latest rhetoric from Sessions. Recently he stated that the department will review Obama’s policies:
“Most states have some limits on it and, already, people are violating those limits,” the attorney general said. “We’re going to look at it. … and try to adopt responsible policies.”
“I’m definitely not a fan of expanded use of marijuana,” he said. “States they can pass the laws they choose. I would just say it does remain a violation of federal law to distribute marijuana throughout any place in the United States, whether a state legalizes it or not.”
Obama and his Justice Department announced in 2013 that officials “would not directly challenge state marijuana legalization laws and would take a narrower role enforcing federal law against pot sales.” The officials passed around a memo with guidelines:
A series of guidelines, widely referred to as the Cole memo after Deputy Attorney General James Cole, said federal enforcement and prosecution efforts would focus on preventing drug-related violence, as well as stopping distribution to minors, weeding out gang involvement and blocking marijuana from being transported to states where it remains illegal.
Now Sessions has decided to review these guidelines. He justifies a possible tougher stance because of alleged violence that comes with marijuana :
“Most of you probably know I don’t think America is going to be a better place when more people of all ages and particularly young people start smoking pot,” Sessions said during an exchange with reporters at the Justice Department. “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago.”
“We’re seeing real violence around that,” Sessions said. “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.”
But it’s not just about this alleged violence. Sessions also spoke about Nebraska’s lawsuit against Colorado. The attorney general “sued Colorado for allegedly not keeping marijuana within its borders.” The Supreme Court dismissed the case, but it has not stopped other states from complaining “that Colorado and other pot-legal states have not done enough to keep the drug from crossing their borders.”
Eight states and Washington D.C. have legalized recreational marijuana. The Associated Press reported that studies about violence and marijuana have not shown any connection.DONATE
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