In an administration rife with controversial figures, Attorney General Jeff Sessions certainly makes the top of the list. In his decades-long political life, he’s been accused of, among other things:
- Demeaning his subordinates, including African-American aides
- Making questionable -- ahem, racist “jokes”
- Withdrawing his support for the Ku Klux Klan only when he learned of their desire for legal cannabis
- Arguing against civil rights for gays
- And, most recently, colluding with Russia to sway the results of the 2016 election
The Ku Klux Klan reference, while troubling on many levels, is indicative of the Attorney General’s policy aims. Since taking office, one of Sessions’ most consistent goals has been to curb the liberalization of cannabis laws; in July, The Hill reported that the Department of Justice was gearing up for a renewed crackdown on cannabis by attempting to link it with violent crime. As he stated in a hearing before the Senate in 2016, he believes “Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
As proponents and merchants of safe, legal and well-regulated cannabis, we’re troubled, to say the least. But we take hope, for several reasons—not least of which, the broad and growing support for legal cannabis in this country; a recent poll put overall support for recreational marijuana at 61%, and medical cannabis at a whopping 88%.
As pointed out in an article by two noted cannabis policy analysts, the Attorney General is battling the tide of history. And and we all know, fighting with history rarely ends well.
Studying Cannabis from Multiple Angles
While many policy analysts have studied cannabis from a clinical, social-impact or experiential perspective, marijuana’s increasing legalization both nationally and globally is setting the stage for a new sort of research: Cannabis’ financial impact, both as an industry in its own right and as a mitigating factor in rising healthcare costs.
The authors of the article we referenced earlier—the father-daughter team of Ashley C. and W. David Bradford—recently completed a study of cannabis’ potential impact on Medicare. Unsurprisingly (to cannabis activists), they found that had all 50 states legalized medical marijuana back in 2014, a year which saw a marked increase in prescription drug costs, Medicare would have saved roughly $1 billion, and potentially quite a bit more.
Why Attorney General Jeff Sessions Is On the Wrong Side of History
Now, the Bradfords use that data, and that gathered in other studies to argue that Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ crusade against cannabis is an unwinnable, anti-historical and ultimately destructive approach. They point out:
- In direct opposition to Sessions’ statements and policies, the American medical community has largely resolved the question of whether or not cannabis is medically useful with a strong “Yes.”
- As found in a study by the American Journal of Public Health, cannabis may play a role in reducing traffic fatalities in legal-marijuana states.
- As found in their study of the impact of cannabis on Medicare, the financial and social positives in using marijuana to reduce America's’ dependence on opioids and other dangerous (and costly) painkillers are a strong incentive for increased liberalization.
And of course—as we mentioned earlier—the vast majority of Americans who support greater legalization represent a powerful force in their own right. In an era in which so many Americans feel politically disenfranchised, perhaps cannabis can serve as an unlikely—but powerful—unifying force. After all, regardless of our political views, we all want to live in greater liberty, health, and happiness, don’t we?