My good pal Attorney General Jeff Sessions' character was viciously attacked last month by the governors of four states where cannabis is legal. It was a low blow. Try putting yourself in his hoof-shaped shoes for a moment: You're in a strange place where the laws of nature and good sense have been turned upside-down—where drugs are medicine and D.A.R.E. is stupid. Everyone you meet hates you. People actually laughed at your confirmation hearing. And—despite the fact that you look like you woke up in a Hieronymus Bosch painting this morning—the papers continue to cover their front pages with photos your face, taken at moments when you appeared to be on the verge of either sneezing or crying.
It's almost like all those hippies you curb stomped in the name of good, clean fun back in the '60s have crept up from the gutters and hospital wards to wreak their ungodly vengeance on you through an uncaring and untrustworthy media. I'd be upset and lashing out, too.
Which is why I've decided to take this space to reprimand the governors of the four states who decided to respond to the letters Sessions sent to them on July 24 that criticized each state's cannabis regulations, citing local statistics related to public health that caused him concern. To the four of you: While you might believe that some of those numbers were misleading or incorrect, you clearly didn't take Sessions' feelings into account when you wrote your responses. He's a frail, confused man. Have some compassion.
For instance: In his letter to Alaska governor Bill Walker, Sessions quoted statistics from the “2015 Annual Report” released by the Alaska State Troopers noting that 19 percent of teens had used cannabis within 30 days (according to the latest data in the report). In response, Gov. Walker callously highlighted Sessions' misunderstanding of calendars by pointing out that “the statistics in the 2015 report cannot be fairly attributed to the industry since sales from state-licensed businesses did not begin until 2016. The report simply does not speak to the success or failure of the new regulatory framework.” Gov. Walker also explained that “while the number of minors that reported using marijuana in 2015 is concerning, the rate of marijuana use by Alaskan youth is lower than national averages, lower than reported alcohol use, and continues to decline.”
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Attorney General Bob Ferguson responded to Sessions' letter most unpleasantly, noting that the attorney general has twice refused to meet with the governor in person to discuss cannabis policy. From the response: “Your letter, citing the March 2016 Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (NW HIDTA) report on marijuana in Washington, makes a number of allegations that are outdated, incorrect, or based on incomplete information. If we can engage in more direct dialogue, we might avoid this sort of miscommunication and make progress on the issues that are important to both of us.” Gov. Inslee and Attorney General Ferguson obviously don't realize that the first casualty in the drug war was facts.
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown also seemed to have trouble understanding just how unimportant accurate scientific data is in the battle for America's youth when she responded to Sessions' letter, saying that the January draft report by the Oregon Police that Sessions quoted “does not (and frankly does not purport to), reflect the 'on the ground' reality in Oregon in 2017.” She goes on to say the report was made to serve as a “baseline understanding of the state of things related to marijuana in Oregon prior to legalization.” Oregon State Police Superintendent Travis Hampton wrote his own letter to Sessions last month that explained that the report, which was produced by his agency, was the “first and least defensible draft,” which the agency “had no immediate plans to publish until objective data could be recovered for many years.” The report had been leaked, and according to Hampton: “The agency attempted to make clear the document was not accurate, not validated, outdated and the Oregon State Police did not endorse the conclusions in the draft baseline report. Unfortunately you sourced the same leaked draft document as evidence against Oregon’s marijuana regulatory structure.”
The final whopping five-page response came from Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper and Attorney General Cynthia Coffman. This beast goes through every public health and safety concern raised by Sessions in his letter to the governor, and explains point-by-point how the state is addressing each issue. “The State of Colorado has worked diligently to implement the will of our citizens and build a comprehensive regulatory and enforcement system that prioritizes public safety and public health,” they wrote. “Colorado's system has become a model for other states and nations. Our agencies have consulted with countless jurisdictions around the world as they work to construct a comprehensive and effective regulatory framework.”
Which may very well be true, but Sessions has already made it clear that he isn't going to believe something just because it's true. The problem isn't his poorly sourced claims or his deceptive use of data. The problem is all these poindexter lawmakers trying to get him to use his head. The man got where he is by thinking with his gut, dammit! (I hear there's brain cells in there.)
Jeez. I sure hope Ol' Sessions at least understands irony, or else he'll start quoting this article, too.