The U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has now acknowledged that “there may well be some benefits from medical marijuana.” He also stated that it is “perfectly appropriate to study” cannabis. This opinion comes at a time after Sessions has for so long been an opponent to the world of legal cannabis.
Sessions then quickly also stated that there is some evidence to show marijuana may be able to reduce some of the effects of the opioid epidemic that has been plaguing the U.S. for some time now. He also stated that research currently shows lower overdoses in states that allow for legal cannabis in some form or another. He stated that he doesn’t believe “that will be sustained in the long run,” in regard to the lower overdoses. This opinion from Sessions is quite new as since his election he has stated that he will continue to fight the arguably failed War on Drugs.
Sessions also stated that the federal government will soon be giving out more licenses to allow entities to grow legal cannabis for research purposes only. He stated before the Senate Appropriations Commerce Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee that “We are moving forward and we will add fairly soon, I believe, the paperwork and reviews will be completed and we will add additional suppliers of marijuana under the controlled circumstances.” The DEA also released a new policy that would allow for more licenses to research cultivators in the industry. Since this announcement, he stated that they have received as much as 25 application to be apart of the new government program. Thus far, he has yet to act on these new applications, but it does look to be incredibly promising for the future ahead.
Sessions also stated that if they are to open up the opportunity to research, it could potentially backfire for the U.S. in regard to international drug treaties. He stated that “the treaty requires certain controls in that process.” He also stated that earlier proposals have violated that treaty, but that they are working to find a happy medium to satisfy all people.
Sessions stated this opinion in response to questioning from U.S. Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii who stated that “we’re all evolving on this issue, some quicker than others. There are good civil rights reasons for decriminalizing and pursuing a federalist approach around this.” Sessions did not, however, state any time frame for this proposed legislation, but his changing opinion is a large milestone in the world of medicinal cannabis.
The largest part here is the fact that Sessions has to some extent, admitted that medicinal cannabis could have a benefit to those who need it. This is a major paradigm shift from his prior opinions and thus could lead to a large amount of positive legislation for the cannabis industry. He stated that “medical marijuana, as one physician told me, whoever heard of taking medicine when you have no idea how much medicine you’re taking and ingesting it in the fashion that it is, which is in itself unhealthy?” This remains one of the issues in the cannabis world, that individuals are not fully aware of the dosing of the medicine. There is an easy solution to this, and that remains to have the ability to conduct more and more research on cannabis. If scientists are able to research the plant more, it is likely that many of the current issues with dosing will go away. With new research coming into the space on a daily basis, the hopes are high that this changing opinion will quickly be reflected in the policy of cannabis in the U.S.