Since finding out about U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ desire to rollback medical marijuana protections to combat the “historic drug epidemic,” finding solid, research-based evidence that contradicts his claims hasn’t been difficult. Simply put, Sessions’ position doesn’t reflect the facts and the consequences of his reinstatement of the war on drugs can have disastrous implications for the country. Here’s why he’s wrong.
The overabundance and widespread abuse of heroin, prescription painkillers has led to an astounding number of overdoses and deaths in the U.S. alone. The National Institute on Drug Abuse estimates that,
2.1 million people in the United States are suffering from substance use disorders relation to prescription opioid pain relievers in 2012 and an estimated 467,000 are addicted to heroin.
Sessions’ letter to Congress does not explicitly refer to any plans that would ameliorate the opioid crisis.
According to Scientific American, “nine out of 10 people who try marijuana do not become dependent on the drug.” Furthermore, a 20-year epidemiological review concluded that the “lifetime risk of developing dependence among those who have ever used cannabis was estimated at 9 percent in the United States in the early 1990s as against 32 percent for nicotine, 23 percent for heroin, 17 percent for cocaine, 15 percent for alcohol and 11 percent for stimulants.”
Lethal cannabis overdoses are nonexistent. Weed remains at the bottom of the harmful drug list, ranking in at “114 times less deadly than booze,” says the Washington Post. Of all substances, marijuana poses the least mortality risk.
Many prescription painkiller addicts move on to heroin or vice or versa. The NIDA reports that ‘nearly half of young people who inject heroin abused prescription opioids first.
Dr. Marcus Bachhuber, lead author of a study conducted by JAMA Internal Medicine that compiled medical marijuana laws and death certificate data for 11 years stated,
We found there was about a 25 percent lower rate of prescription painkiller overdose deaths on average after implementation of a medical marijuana law.
In April, a CBS poll found that ‘the highest percentage of Americans ever favored making marijuana legal, with 61 percent of voters saying weed should be legal for adults and another 88 percent backing making medical marijuana legal across the U.S.
Sessions’ opinions are not only unpopular, they affect the 2 million patients who are currently finding relief from pot. His views also jeopardize the hundreds of jobs being created in the industry.
In essence, Sessions’ personal vendetta against marijuana and its users could crush one of the fastest growing industries in the country. An industry that is generating billions in much-needed revenue in states like Colorado, for instance.