When President Donald Trump chose Jeff Sessions as Attorney General of the United States, many advocates for marijuana legalization or decriminalization were concerned. Sessions has spoken out against marijuana numerous times in the past, and there was a fear among advocates that the federal government would begin to crack down on state legalization efforts.
The appointment of Sessions to the AG position also effectively put an end to hopes of reforming the marijuana laws at the federal level. The federal laws do not currently recognize medicinal purposes of marijuana, which makes research more difficult and results in federal sentencing guidelines treating marijuana as a dangerous controlled substance with no medicinal benefits.
Unfortunately, recent statements from Sessions suggest that marijuana advocates were right to be concerned. As Time reported, Jeff Session's prepared remarks included a statement that he believes marijuana is only slightly less dangerous than heroin. Not only is this incorrect based on scientific evidence, but it is also a bad sign for things to come in regards to federal marijuana policy.
If you are concerned that you could be arrested for marijuana-related actions that are lawful in NY but illegal on the federal level, a federal drug defense attorney can assist you in understanding how criminal laws could apply to you. If you are actually under investigation or have been charged with an offense, our legal team can provide invaluable assistance in fighting charges and trying to protect yourself, your freedom and reputation, and your assets.
According to Time, Sessions' prepared remarks as reported on the DOJ website state: “I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana — so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that’s only slightly less awful.”
Sessions veered slightly from his prepared remarks as he was delivering them. Although the specific language “slightly less awful” was not in the speech as he delivered it, he made clear that he does not believe marijuana should be readily available because of what he perceives as serious consequences of marijuana use.
Most experts, however, disagree with Sessions' assertions that marijuana is nearly as serious as heroin. No one has died from a cannabis overdose, while around 91 people die from opioid overdoses daily in the United States now. More than half-a-million people have died of drug overdoses between 2000 and 2015. None of those fatalities were attributed to cannabis, although many were attributed to heroin.
Research has also shown that marijuana has had a beneficial impact for people coping with chronic pain, and that marijuana could have anti-inflammatory effects. Not only that, but the conflation of marijuana with heroin could be especially problematic when evidence suggests states that legalize marijuana experience a decline in the number of deaths linked to opioids.
If Sessions allows his misguided position on marijuana to shape policy on marijuana at the DOJ, this could have serious consequences for the marijuana industry and could adversely impact people's lives. Anyone who is accused of marijuana-related offenses or any federal drug crimes, should seek assistance from the attorneys at The Law Office of James E. Tyner, PLLC right away to develop an effective legal strategy for responding to the charges.