Attorney General Jeff Sessions ripped into a study showing marijuana can help those suffering from opioid addiction, calling the research a “desperate” move to normalize weed.
At a meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General Tuesday, Sessions said he is extremely skeptical of claims marijuana is a viable alternative painkiller to prescription pills. Sessions referenced a study released in February suggesting patients suffering from chronic pain and mental health conditions will choose marijuana over their addictive prescription drugs when given a choice by their doctor, reports The Washington Post.
Roughly 63 percent of the participants reported ditching their prescription pills for marijuana over the course of the study. (RELATED: Patients With Chronic Pain Are Opting For Marijuana Over Opioids)
“I see a line in The Washington Post today that I remember from the ’80s, ‘Marijuana is a cure for opiate abuse.’ Give me a break,” Sessions said Tuesday. “This is the kind of argument that’s been made out there to just – almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even its benefits. I doubt that’s true. Maybe science will prove I’m wrong.”
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of British Columbia and University of Victoria, found patients chose marijuana due to reduced side effects and because it is far less addictive than their prescription medication. Patients also said they were better able to manage their symptoms by using weed.
Sessions is signaling he will step up enforcement of federal marijuana laws, possibly interfering in states where weed is legal to some degree. Medical marijuana is legal in 28 states and Washington, D.C., where it is also legal for recreational use. Voters in Maine, Nevada, California and Massachusetts all approved measures to legalize marijuana for recreational use on Election Day. Nearly 20 percent of Americans now have access to legal pot.
Sessions will review and potentially roll back aspects of the Cole memo, a set of guidelines established in 2013 that direct the Department of Justice to focus marijuana enforcement efforts on violent crimes and distribution in states without legalization laws.
If Sessions and the Trump administration move to interfere with state pot laws, it could cost the marijuana industry hundreds of thousands of jobs. The marijuana market is currently on pace to dwarf U.S. manufacturing in job creation over the next several years.
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