During Jeff Sessions testimony in front of the House Judiciary Committee this week he was caught off guard by a line of questioning he didn’t have lies prepared for. Of course Sessions’ preparation focused on pretending to “forget” about the Trump campaign’s intimate relationship with Russia, so he was not ready for queries from a Republican from Ohio and a Democrat from Tennessee about “his department’s policy” on legalized medicinal or recreational marijuana.
Ohio Republican, Steve Chabot, wanted Sessions to clarify his position on legal marijuana while it is still illegal under antiquated federal law. Chabot’s state, Ohio, is beginning to implement its own medical marijuana program, so he pressed Sessions to clarify what Ohio has to look forward to with an attorney general’s “reefer madness” mindset about the medicine. “What is your department’s policy on that, relative to enforcing the law?”
Sessions replied that thus far, nothing has changed from the previous compassionate administration’s policy.
“Our policy is the same really, fundamentally, as the Holder-Lynch policy, which is that the federal law remains in effect and a state can legalize marijuana for its law enforcement purposes, but it still remains illegal with regard to federal purposes.”
Although he wasn’t technically “lying,” Sessions “forgot” to say that he has been pressuring Congress not to reauthorize the Rohrabacher-Farr Amendment that prohibits the federal government from interfering with states that have decriminalized medicinal or recreational pot use. The House told Sessions no and for good measure Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT) introduced an amendment identical to the House version that passed over Sessions’ objections. Congress doesn’t believe Session’s is in line with the will of the people or medical science of the past 40 years or so.
The real fun began when Congressman Steve Cohen (D-TN) seized on the subject of marijuana and took Sessions, “a notorious pot hater,” to task over a remark he made about the kind of people “that would smoke marijuana:” suffice it to say the “forgetful” evangelical and avowed “pot enemy” doesn’t think much of anyone who uses cannabis. In fact, he categorically stated last year that “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Mr. Cohen was prepared for Sessions and noted:
“You said at one time that good people don’t smoke marijuana. Which of these people would you say are not good people?” Referring to a prepared list of prominent Republicans, Mr. Cohen named GOP stalwarts “John Kasich, George Pataki, Rick Santorum, Ted Cruz, Jeb Bush, George Bush, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas; all of those listed have at some point said they used marijuana. Which of those are not good people?”
Sessions was clearly flummoxed and had little wriggle room to say “he couldn’t remember” making such an absurd statement. So he resorted to the typical Trump administration kind of response; he lied. He said:
“Let me tell you how that came about. The question was what do you do about drug use, the epidemic we’re seeing in the country, and how you reverse it. Part of that is a cultural thing. I explained how when I became United States Attorney in 1981, and drugs were being used widely, over a period of years, it became unfashionable, unpopular, and… it was seen as such that good people didn’t use marijuana. That was the context of that statement.”
Sessions’ statement was made in 2016 when he was lobbying for congressional support to put a stop to states’ cannabis decriminalization programs and portrayed the weed as a clear and present danger on par with heroin and the opioid epidemic. The “context” of Sessions’ statement was around convincing Congress to get on board his “reefer madness” bandwagon and help him “foster knowledge that this drug is dangerous, you cannot play with it, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about . . . and to send that message with clarity that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
Apparently Representative Cohen recalled some of Sessions’ statements earlier this year when he compared weed to heroin and mocked the scientific research revealing that cannabis has been successful in treating heroin and opioid addiction. Cohen was brilliant to get Sessions on the congressional record admitting that “Marijuana is not as dangerous as heroin — do you agree with that?” Sessions replied “I think that’s correct.”
Mr. Cohen thanked Sessions for being truthful as it must have been an extremely painful experience, and then schooled the pot-hating Attorney General instructing him to wise up.
“Look at the [budget] limitations you’ve got… Put your enforcement on crack, on cocaine, on meth, on opioids, and on heroin. Marijuana is the least bothersome of all.
Twenty-eight states or 29 states and the District of Columbia have legalized it for medical purposes; eight states and the District of Columbia for recreational purposes. In states where they’ve got medical marijuana, they have 25 percent less opioid use. It gives people a way to relieve pain without using opioids, which inevitably leads to death and crime. So I’d hope you’d take a look at that.”
“We will take a look at it. We will be looking at some rigorous analysis of the marijuana usage and how it plays out. I am not as optimistic as you.”
It doesn’t matter whether Sessions is optimistic or not, there are more “rigorous analyses,” studies and research available than Sessions has years left among the living to “take a look at.” The research and studies, including the weed’s efficacy at halting many forms of cancer, are numerous and easily accessible; including on the United States government National Institute of Health (NIH) website.
There is also a preliminary release of a brand new study revealing that two-thirds of patients “stop opioid painkillers after using medical marijuana.” The full, final report will be released in 2018 and it isn’t clear if Jeff Sessions will “be looking at that rigorous analysis” because it contradicts his assertion that cannabis has no medicinal or therapeutic value whatsoever.
If nothing else, Sessions can no longer claim “he believes” marijuana is dangerous like heroin and opioids or that he is unaware the weed has proven medicinal value and is one therapy worth investigating to stop the opioid epidemic.
Obviously, marijuana is not a miracle cure and it isn’t for everybody. Although with the severe memory problems plaguing Jeff Sessions when he testifies before Congress, he should take a look at a study released earlier this year reporting that chronic weed use “can help reverse memory problems related to brain aging in senior citizens.” Regular reefer use may help Sessions memory problems, but it won’t help his inclination to lie the next time he states that “weed is as dangerous as heroin and opioids;” a claim he is now on the congressional record refuting.