Earlier this week, Attorney General Jeff Sessions spoke before a Senate budgetary committee and made some comments about medical marijuana that seem to be contradictory to some of his recent actions. Sessions has been ridiculed after deciding to rescind the Cole Memo that provided legal protections for the cannabis industry.
During questioning regarding the Department of Justice, Sessions actually acknowledged that “marijuana may have some medical benefits” and went further in saying that cannabis is “perfectly appropriate to study.” This about face seems sudden but does bode well for future legislation.
While marijuana is still considered a schedule I narcotic, people’s perception of cannabis is changing especially in terms of the medicinal uses. Researching the active chemicals in cannabis has long been delayed due to federal constraints, but this too is set to change.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions noted 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."
There was a new policy enacted in 2016 that allowed the Drug Enforcement Administration to license cultivators for the purposes of research. However, the Justice Department has prevented the DEA from actually issuing any licenses. Hopefully Sessions new remarks will hold true and research proposals will be approved in the months to come but he did not mention any timeline on his plans to license research growers.
When presented with research showing the correlation between legal medical marijuana use and the decrease in opioid abuse, the Attorney General is still hesitant to accept the data. He stated that he doesn’t “believe that will be sustained in the long run.”
Jeff Sessions spoke to the narcotics that tend to cause the most danger to the public, “our priorities are fentanyl, heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine. People are dying by massive amounts as a result of those drugs. We have very few, almost zero, virtually zero small marijuana cases. But if they are a big deal and illegally acting, and violating federal law, our agents may work that case.”
It seems that his biggest gripe with marijuana is how it is consumed, “Medical marijuana, as one physician told me, ‘whoever heard of taking a 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?'”
While any educated cannabis consumer understands there are various means of ingesting medical marijuana, it might take politicians in Washington more time to fully comprehend the advantages of marijuana use. Viable research could create a convincing argument and further the cause for legal cannabis but only if it’s allowed to be conducted.
Only time will tell if Attorney General Jeff Sessions will stay true to his promise but this kind of rhetoric is bound to move the needle especially among conservative on Capitol Hill.