Republican Senator Declares That Marijuana Can Kill

By Keri Blakinger 10/21/15

This is what you get when they run unopposed.

 Jeffrey Sessions
Old and in the way. Photo via

Maybe he’s watched Reefer Madness one too many times, but Sen. Jeffrey Sessions (R-AL) seems to think that pot can kill you.

On the Senate floor last Thursday, Sessions said, “I think it needs to be said that the President should never have said smoking marijuana is like smoking cigarettes: ‘Oh, I wish I hadn’t done it.’ That is the kind of message people hear and now we have states legalizing it, and they’re already talking about re-criminalizing it. It’s a mistake. We’ve seen that experiment before. Lives are at stake.”

He continued, “The Drug Enforcement Administration called me recently and told me that 120 people a day are dying [from] drug overdose in America. How many of them have serious brain injuries as a result of those overdoses?” Naturally, he failed to state which drugs were causing these overdoses.

Even as there’s a mounting bipartisan consensus on the need to wind down the drug war, it seems that Sessions yearns for the glory days of the 1980s.

“These are serious matters,” he said. “We made tremendous progress. The murder rate in America dropped by over 50% since the 1980s when Ronald Reagan said ‘Just say no’ and started a war on crime. He appointed me as the U.S. attorney in Alabama. I know what we did. And the federal government led the way with tough sentencing, eliminating parole, targeting dangerous drugs in effective ways, and states and local governments followed.”

Circling back to marijuana, he concluded, “I am worried about it. It is just tragic to me that we are making the same mistakes we made in the 1960s and 1970s. According to new data, 4.3 million people abuse or are dependent on marijuana. Marijuana is stronger today—several times stronger—than the marijuana of the 1960s, and it does impact people adversely.”

In all his anachronistic fear-mongering, Sessions glossed over one point: Marijuana can also affect people positively, as many people with medical marijuana cards can attest.

And, needless to say, pot does not kill you.

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Keri Blakinger is a former drug user and current reporter living in Texas. She covers breaking news for the Houston Chronicle and previously worked for the New York Daily News and the Ithaca Times. She has written about drugs and criminal justice for the Washington Post, Salon, Quartz and more. She loves dogs and is not impressed by rodeo food. Find Keri on LinkedIn and Twitter.