AG Jeff Sessions: Pot Use Is 'Slightly Less Awful' Than Heroin Use

By Kelly Burch 03/17/17

“Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

Jeff Sessions
Photo via YouTube

Attorney Jeff Sessions took a hard-line stance on drug addiction this week, linking the heroin epidemic with an uptick in violent crime in recent years and calling for a return to the aggressively anti-drug rhetoric that was taken in the 1980s and 1990s. 

“I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable,” Sessions said Wednesday, speaking in Richmond, Virginia.  

Sessions once again seemed to link marijuana use with the opioid epidemic. 

“I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana – so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful,” he said. “Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.”

Talking with reporters after the event, Sessions spoke against medical marijuana. 

“I think medical marijuana has been hyped, maybe too much,” he said. “Dosages can be constructed in a way that might be beneficial, I acknowledge that, but if you smoke marijuana, for example, where you have no idea how much THC you’re getting, it’s probably not a good way to administer a medicinal amount. So forgive me if I’m a bit dubious about that.”

Sessions said that stressing prevention and providing drug education will keep people from becoming addicted. 

“Educating people and telling them the terrible truth about drugs and addiction will result in better choices,” he said. “We can reduce the use of drugs, save lives and turn back the surge in crime that inevitably follows in the wake of increased drug abuse.”

Although Sessions said that drug treatment was one of the three main ways to “fight the scourge of drugs,” he spent hardly any time talking about what will be done by the Trump administration to support treatment programs. 

“Treatment programs are also vital,” he said. “But treatment often comes too late to save people from addiction or death. So we need to focus on the third way we can fight drug use: preventing people from ever taking drugs in the first place.”

Many fear that access to quality treatment program will be cut under the Trump administration’s proposed legislation to replace Obamacare, the American Health Care Act. 

Sessions also connected the opioid epidemic with organized crime and immigration issues, echoing sentiments from the President Trump. 

“Illegal drugs are flooding across our southern border and into cities across our country, bringing violence, addiction, and misery,” he said. “We have also seen an increase in the trafficking of new, low-cost heroin by Mexican drug cartels working with local street gangs. As the market for this heroin expands, gangs fight for territory and new customers and neighborhoods are caught in the crossfire.”

Lowering crime rate is a matter of getting the opioid crisis under control, he implied. 

“To turn back this rising tide of violent crime, we need to confront the heroin and opioid crisis in our nation – and dismantle the transnational cartels that bring drugs and violence into our neighborhoods.”

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Kelly Burch writes about addiction and mental health issues, particularly as they affect families. Follow her on TwitterFacebook, and LinkedIn.