As I posted yesterday, in Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ prepared remarks for a speech he delivered to law enforcement in Richmond, Virginia, he suggested obliquely that marijuana is safer than heroin… but not much:
I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable. I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store. And 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. Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life.
That may be what the speechwriter prepared for Sessions, but as it turns out, he went off script during the speech. As Tom Angell reports, Sessions ad-libbed through that section of the speech and dropped the “life-wrecking dependency” part altogether:
I’m astonished to hear people suggest we can solve our heroin crisis — have you heard this? — by having more marijuana. I mean, how stupid is that! Give me a break! So we’re going to have to stand up and confront that, tell the truth here. And our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs is bad, that it will destroy your life.
Sessions also expounded on this prepared line…
I reject the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store.
…by once again promulgating the false scare that higher potency marijuana products are somehow more dangerous:
I reject the idea that we’re going to be better placed if we have more marijuana and you can just go down to the corner grocery store and get it — give me a break! This is high purity THC content marijuana and it’s not a healthy substance, particularly for young people.
(I always wonder: If today’s high-potency marijuana is “not your father’s Woodstock weed,” then can the feds just legalize that old-time low-potency marijuana? Like how 3.2 beer was first legalized after the end of Prohibition?)
Sessions also took this small prepared line and ran with it…
I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use. But too many lives are at stake to worry about being fashionable.
…by longingly pining for the days when America was great, back during the Reagan Era when the War on Drugs was in full swing:
I think we have too much of a tolerance for drug use – psychologically, politically, morally. We need to say as Nancy Reagan said, ‘Just say no! Don’t do it!’ There’s no excuse for this, it’s not recreational, it can be destructive and it consistently is destructive.
Lives are at stake and we’re not going to worry about being fashionable in my view at this point in time. We’re going to see and we’re already seeing the death and destruction that results from the prevalence of drugs in America and the argument’s not going to be too hard to win in the months to come — people will see too many of the people they know losing their lives.
Sometimes you can tell what a person is thinking by how hard they try not to say something.
Last month, when asked whether he would be arresting patients and their providers in medical marijuana states, Sessions didn’t say he wouldn’t prosecute against medical marijuana states, he said that he would never commit to not enforcing federal law.
Last week, when asked by Hugh Hewitt whether pursuing a RICO case against legalized marijuana would take down the whole movement, Sessions didn’t say he wouldn’t pursue a RICO case, he said that one RICO case wouldn’t do the trick.
Now, given prepared remarks that begrudgingly admit that marijuana is safer than heroin, Sessions goes off-script to characterize that notion as “stupid”.
Whether or not Sessions will actually move against legal or medical marijuana has yet to be seen. The Department of Justice has many fish to fry and a finite budget and limited manpower. Sessions may not have the time, resources, or political capital to go after marijuana.
But whether he wants to? I have no doubt about that at all.