It’s a known fact that Attorney General Jeff Sessions despises marijuana. Sessions took his hatred for the plant a step further, blaming it for the nation’s opioid crisis and by doing so he must go against even the Drug Enforcement Agency. Sessions’ most recent anti-marijuana rant was on Tuesday while speaking at a Heritage Foundation event. During the event, he was asked about the nation’s ongoing opioid crisis.
Sessions’ response to the question was basically an unclear attempt to contest evidence from the DEA to double down on the imagined connection between prescription drug abuse and marijuana. Basically, Sessions blamed marijuana for the opioid crisis.
“Sometimes, you just need to take two Bufferins or something and go to bed. These pills become so addictive,” Sessions stated. “The DEA said a huge percentage of the heroin addictions start with prescriptions. That may be an exaggerated number—they had it as high as 80 percent—we think a lot of this is starting with marijuana or other drugs, too.”
It’s odd to see Sessions contradict the DEA, as the agency is dedicated to carrying out the War on Drugs. But then again, he regularly disregards much of the evidence coming from scientists, health professionals and now law enforcement. Researchers have found links between marijuana and opioids. However, the connections are not in Sessions’ favor.
Multiple studies have revealed that marijuana can help to decrease opioid abuse and addiction. Researchers at the University of New Mexico examined 125 chronic pain patients over the course of five years. Out of those patients, eighty-three chose to use medical marijuana and forty-two did not. At the end of the study, 34 percent of those who consumed medical marijuana were able to stop taking pain medication compared to only two percent of those who did not use medical marijuana.
Similar results were found researchers at the University of British Columbia in a 2016 study. The study concluded that marijuana assists those to break their addiction to opioids. “Research suggests that people may be using cannabis as an exit drug to reduce use of substances that are potentially more harmful, such as opioid pain medication,” said Zach Walsh, lead researcher.
Even though Jeff Sessions blames marijuana for the opioid crisis, it doesn’t make evidence contesting his theory disappear. In fact, more research is pointing to marijuana becoming a possible solution, as experts are now calling it an” exit drug”, rather than a gateway drug.