Jeff Sessions Gets Grilled By DOJ Intern About Marijuana Stance

By Bryan Le 12/11/17

Sessions appears to have misused a drugged-driving statistic to back up his anti-marijuana stance. 

Jeff Sessions prepares to answer a question.
In his answer, Sessions bent the truth.

In a recently released video of a Department of Justice internal event, an intern challenged Jeff Sessions’ policies on marijuana, prompting him to bend the truth.

“You support pretty harsh policies for marijuana and pretty lax gun control laws—I’m not even sure where you stand on the assault weapons ban,” asked the intern on video. “So I’d like to know, since guns kill more people than marijuana, why lax laws on one, harsh laws on the other?”

Sessions chuckled before answering cheekily.

“The Second Amendment—you’re aware of that?—guarantees the right to the American people to keep and bear arms, and I intend to defend that Second Amendment,” answered Sessions. “It’s as valid as the First Amendment.”

On the topic of marijuana, Sessions’ answer strayed from the truth.

“Look, there is this view that marijuana is harmless and does no damage. I believe last year was the first year that automobile accidents that occurred were found to have been caused more by drugs than by alcohol,” claimed Sessions. “Marijuana is not a healthy substance in my opinion—the American Medical Association is crystal clear on that.”

Sessions then asked the intern if she believes that, to which she replied she does not.

“OK, Doctor Whatever-Your-Name-Is, you can write the AMA and see why they think otherwise!” Sessions retorted glibly.

Using the fact that drugged driving deaths have surpassed drunk driving deaths to take a shot at marijuana bends the truth. Drugs were found to be involved in a greater number of traffic fatalities than alcohol in 2015: 43% of tested motorists who had died had drugs in their system, while 37% had alcohol.

However, the statistic for the drugs includes all drugs, with marijuana accounting for 35% of the drug-positive tests. Additionally, the report does not mention what percentage of drivers had both drugs and alcohol in their system. Recent research efforts cannot conclusively link marijuana-influenced driving to driving impairment.

The AMA is not so clear on marijuana, either. From their official policy:

“Our AMA urges that marijuana's status as a federal Schedule I controlled substance be reviewed with the goal of facilitating the conduct of clinical research and development of cannabinoid-based medicines, and alternate delivery methods. This should not be viewed as an endorsement of state-based medical cannabis programs, the legalization of marijuana, or that scientific evidence on the therapeutic use of cannabis meets the current standards for a prescription drug product.”

Sessions’ drug strategy includes signing up Kellyanne Conway to fight the opioid epidemic and advocating bringing back programs like D.A.R.E.

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Bryan Le grew up in the 90's, so the Internet is practically his third parent. This combined with a love for journalism led him to The Fix. When he isn't fulfilling his duties as Editorial Coordinator, he's obsessing over fancy keyboards he can't justify buying. Find Bryan on LinkedIn or Twitter