God bless it. I was getting so comfy out here on the edges, where you hardly hear mention of that old codger Jeff Sessions—Attorney General and itchy, self-appointed moral conscience for this here fine country of ours. Being angry at someone is almost as exhausting as pitying them, and I was enjoying not having to think about Ol' Splithoof for a few weeks.
See, last month, he was too busy fending off attacks from all sides to keep up with his hobby of putting the monthly scare into states with legal cannabis. People started to take notice of all the changes Ol' Sessions has been enacting over at the Department of Justice: like the increased number of leak investigation cases over the last year, or his policy review regarding the rules for subpoenaing reporters (the ones that protect source anonymity). For obvious reasons, the major news outlets have been making a stink about it.
Meanwhile, questions about Sessions' decision to roll back drug law reforms and enable attorneys to seek out the harshest available penalties for drug violations were beginning to encircle his bobble head. Weren't those laws built to target people of color? Were all those warnings last year about Sessions being a racist more than flippant character attacks?
And the Russia talk—my god, the Russia talk. So, the senior Democrat on the Intelligence Committee, Rep. Adam Schiff of California, told reporters last week that during Sessions' closed-door testimony before the committee, the attorney general declined to answer whether “he was ever instructed by the president to take any action that he believed would hinder the Russia investigation,” regarding tampering with the US 2016 presidential election. Just a couple weeks prior to that, he told Congress that he hadn't been lying when he said he'd had no Russian contacts during the Trump campaign. This was after it had been revealed that he had indeed met with the Russian ambassador.
Meaning: I finally got to relax, lean back with a packed bowl and let my mind drift to nicer things. Sessions had his own troubles. No more eminent threat of incarceration. No more nightmares of wet-eyed attorney generals, mechanically crawling up the outer walls of the Robert F. Kennedy Building like ancient lizards, jerkily moving to face the sun.
But then someone must've dropped a jalapeño in his morning milkshake last week, because the fucker woke up with a terrible disposition. With a few sentences, he got everybody's anxieties up and running. Easy. When asked about cannabis policy during an announcement concerning the opioid crisis, Sessions said “We're looking very hard on that right now. In fact, we had meetings yesterday and talked about it at some length,” he said “We are working our way through to a rational policy.”
Everyone lost their shit over that last line. Who knows what “rational policy” means to Sessions? As usual, headlines immediately shouted that a crackdown was imminent.
But I found his follow-up statement interesting: “I don’t want to suggest in any way that this department believes that marijuana is harmless and people should not avoid it.” Doesn't sound like any crackdown I've ever heard of, so I won't be panicking any time soon.
The press conference Sessions was giving was about the steps the DOJ will be taking to fight the opioid epidemic in our country. Unsurprisingly, he made no mention of using cannabis as a treatment. Despite the popular theory that cannabis can battle opioid addiction, Sessions and the DOJ have repeatedly denied the possibility.
Which makes a study conducted by the University of New Mexico and published in the journal PLOS ONE earlier this month all the more timely. The study tracked 37 chronic pain patients who were habitual opioid users and were also enrolled in the state medical cannabis program between 2010 and 2015, compared to 29 patients with similar health conditions who didn’t enroll. The results of the study suggest that there is a significant correlation between the reduction of opioid use and enrollment in the state's cannabis program. During informal surveys, patients told doctors that they substituted their opioid prescriptions with cannabis.
This is an incredibly important moment in the history of medical cannabis, and everyone's ears are twitching now. Public opinion is on the side of using cannabis to treat opioid dependency, a number of drug companies are reportedly at various stages of developing THC- and CBD-based painkillers (despite cannabis' status as a schedule 1 controlled substance) and now even science is backing the advocates.
Now I guess we just wait for the bureaucratic hate machine to catch up with reality.