Sen. Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III (R-AL) was not pleased with President Obama's recent remarks to The New Yorker that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. Heaven forbid we ever see it legalized nationally. It might mean we quit filling our prisons up with all of those non-violent drug offenders that we can then disenfranchise from voting, and we can't have that, now can we?
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-AL) blasted President Obama Wednesday morning for “waltz[ing] into the New Yorker” to say that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol and calling states’ legalization measures an “important move.” Sessions also cited Lady Gaga’s confession that she was addicted to marijuana as evidence that the substance is “not harmless.” Probing U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder during a Department of Justice oversight hearing, he questioned whether Holder had talked to Obama about this, and whether he could change his mind:
SESSIONS: Did the President make, conduct, any scientific survey before he waltzed into the New Yorker and opined contrary to the position of attorney generals [sic] and presidents universally prior to that that marijuana is not, as I’ve quoted him, did he study any of this data before he made that statement?
HOLDER: I don’t know, but I think …
SESSIONS [interrupts]: Did he consult with you before we made that statement?
HOLDER: No, we didn’t talk about that.
SESSIONS: Well, what about this study from the American Medical Association …. heavy cannabis use in adolescents causes persistent impairments in neurocognitive performance and IQ … Or this report from Northwestern University in December … found that marijuana users have abnormal brain structure and poor memory and that chronic marijuana use may lead to brain changes resembling schizophrenia. [...]
HOLDER: I’ve not read the reports, but if they are in fact from the AMA I’m sure they are good reports. But that is exactly why one of our eight enforcement priorities is the prevention of marijuana to minors.
SESSIONS: Well, Lady Gaga said she is addicted to it and it is not harmless. She’s been been addicted to it. Patrick Kennedy, former Congressman Kennedy, said the president is wrong on this subject. I just think it’s a huge issue. I hope that you will talk with the president, you’re close with him, and begin to push back, or pull back, on this position that I think is going to be adverse to the health of America.
If Sessions wants to know whether Obama conducted any studies before he made his statements to the New Yorker, he should consult with provisions of the Controlled Substances Act passed by Congress that designate marijuana as a Schedule I substance and severely limit access to resources for research. In fact, after doing his own year-long investigation, CNN Chief Medical Correspondent Sanjay Gupta concluded, “we have been terribly and systematically misled” on the relative harms and benefits of marijuana. Read on...
Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) looks back proudly at his efforts, alongside Nancy Reagan, to “create a hostility to drug use” in the 1980s. Not surprisingly, Sessions was not pleased by President Obama’s recent comments about the relative hazards of marijuana and alcohol, as he explained to Attorney General Eric Holder during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing today: [...]
I have been covering drug policy for about 25 years, and I am still sometimes startled by what passes for an argument among prohibitionists. What should we conclude from this sample of one about the hazards posed by marijuana? That it can be taken to excess, like every other fun thing on the face of the planet? That some people say they have trouble consuming it in moderation? Didn’t we know both of those things before Dr. Gaga’s earthshaking discovery?
More to the point, what does the possibility of addiction tell us about the truth of the statement Obama made—i.e., that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol? After all, “less dangerous” does not mean “harmless.” As Holder observed, “any drug used in an inappropriate way can be harmful,” and “alcohol is among those drugs.” To evaluate relative hazards, we have to dig a little deeper.
According to one widely cited study, based on data from the National Comorbidity Survey, “dependence” is nearly 70 percent more common among drinkers than it is among pot smokers. So even by this measure, marijuana looks less dangerous. That’s without considering differences in acute toxicity, driving impairment, and the long-term effects of heavy consumption, all of which weigh strongly in marijuana’s favor. Read on...