Speaking yesterday to the National Association of Attorneys General, Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed doubt that marijuana could help mitigate the opioid abuse epidemic. “I see a line in the Washington Post today that I remember from the ’80s,” he said. ” ‘Marijuana is a cure for opiate abuse.’ Give me a break. 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 Post reports.
Opioids killed 33,000 people in 2015, up from around 8,000 in 1999. Sessions oversees the Drug Enforcement Administration, which last year reaffirmed its belief that marijuana has no medical value and hence should remain illegal (which makes it substantially more difficult for researchers to conduct studies). The Post reviews the evidence, including these findings: Marijuana is great at treating chronic pain; states with medical marijuana laws see fewer opiate deaths; access to medical marijuana dispensaries is associated with less prescription painkiller abuse, and fewer overdose deaths, and medical marijuana is associated with fewer opiate-induced car crashes.