Jeff Sessions says medicinal cannabis may have benefits

Zej Moczydlowski
Apr 26, 2018 10:58:17 AM

Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who has a long history of denouncing cannabis in any form, yesterday spoke before the Senate Appropriations Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee. While he still had many reservations, this was one of the first instances where he has admitted that cannabis may have legitimate uses...

Sessions was being questioned by Senator Brian Schatz (D-HI) who noted that "There are credible scientific studies that show where medical marijuana is legal, opioid overdose deaths have gone down. And these studies are published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, the Rand Corporation, with the input from the National Institute on Drug Abuse..." The Senator then asked the AG if, given his commitment to reducing deaths from the opioid epidemic, he would at least reconsider his historical opposition to medical cannabis.

Sessions, while still questioning the efficacy of cannabis, did admit that "There may well be some benefits from medical marijuana, and it's perfectly appropriate to study that..." He also stated "science is very important" and that he had instructed his staff to examine studies the Senator had cited showing an inverse relationship between access to cannabis and deaths from opioid overdose.

Sen. Shatz also asked Sessions about how the Dept. of Justice had not responded to 25 applications filed by companies which had responded to a 2017 call from the DEA for the production of more federally approved research grade marijuana. Sessions responded that his Department was moving forward and that fairly soon he expected the paperwork and reviews to be completed, resulting in additional suppliers of cannabis for research.

Unfortunately, while Sen. Shatz and AG Sessions seemed to reach some level of common ground, the stigmas surrounding cannabis immediately came into view moments later when Sen. Lankford (R-OK) said he didn't believe in the usage of cannabis to replace opioids. He said he didn't want "to swap an opioid epidemic with addiction to marijuana." The Senator's attitude ignores the fact that even the United States Drug Enforcement Agency states that there are no known instances of cannabis leading to an overdose death and that cannabis is nothing like opioids in a discussion of addiction.

Yet, regardless of the misinformation still prevalent in the minds of politicians like Sen. Lankford, it is encouraging to see that individuals such as AG Sessions are starting to listen to facts on the topic of medicinal cannabis. Hopefully the changing opinions of individuals in leadership positions, and their willingness to discuss science and research, will influence their peers to do the same.

Link to the video of the Committee's hearing
(The questions on this topic by Sen. Schatz begin at 01:13:38)

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