Marijuana News Roundup: Attorney General Sessions’ Mixed Message on Pot

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When prepared remarks by U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions were posted online ahead of a speech by the AG in Richmond, Virginia, the speech contained a statement that Sessions did not include when he actually gave the speech:

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.

That’s bad news for the nascent marijuana industry. But Sessions also had some less-bad news for the industry. Responding to a question following the speech, Sessions said:

The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid.

The Cole Memorandum was issued in August of 2013 and outlined the Obama Justice Department’s enforcement policy in states where marijuana use is legal.

Sessions also indicated that the federal government doesn’t have the money to take over enforcement of federal anti-marijuana laws from state and local law enforcement agencies that have traditionally supplied the manpower.

While the message is mixed, the effect is clear: enforcing federal law related to marijuana is less important to President Donald Trump than spending $10 billion to start building a wall on U.S.-Mexico border. That puts marijuana in the same category as the National Endowment for the Arts and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Medical Marijuana Policies and Hospitalizations Related to Marijuana and Opioid Pain Reliever
(a paper published in the journal “Drug and Alcohol Dependence;” excerpt below from the abstract)

Results
Hospitalizations related to marijuana and OPR [opioid pain reliever] increased sharply by 300% on average in all states. Medical marijuana legalization was associated with 23% (p = 0.008) and 13% (p = 0.025) reductions in hospitalizations related to opioid dependence or abuse and OPR overdose, respectively; lagged effects were observed after policy implementation. The operation of medical marijuana dispensaries had no independent impacts on OPR-related hospitalizations. Medical marijuana policies had no associations with marijuana-related hospitalizations.

Conclusion
Medical marijuana policies were significantly associated with reduced OPR-related hospitalizations but had no associations with marijuana-related hospitalizations. Given the epidemic of problematic use of OPR, future investigation is needed to explore the causal pathways of these findings.

Read more at Drug and Alcohol Dependence.