On Tuesday, a conservative Congressman from Texas urged attendees at an opioid epidemic summit to see marijuana as a gateway drug.
Meet Pete Sessions, chairman of the House Rules Committee, who used his power in September last year to halt multiple amendments on marijuana from receiving consideration by the full house.
The amendments included expanding access to researchers; protections for banks to provide services to marijuana businesses; allowing the District of Columbia to implement adult-use sales, and expanding protections to the eight states that have outright legalized marijuana among others.
These amendments were part of the Rohrabacher-Blumenauer Act, which prevents the Department of Justice from using its funds to prosecute or arrest people in states where marijuana is legalized. But Sessions has blocked these amendments since 2014.
Sessions is not related to the current U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The latter is also an extreme hardliner against the legalization of marijuana and has annulled what was known as the Cole Memo.
The Cole Memo has allowed states to operate their legal cannabis businesses without any federal intervention.
During the summit, the Congressman reiterated his disgust towards marijuana.
“If addiction is the problem and we have marketers of addiction that include marijuana — because all you have to do is go to any of the stores in Colorado and they can give you high to low to medium to chocolate — we ought to call for it what it is,” Sessions was quoted by Fort Worth Star-Telegram as saying.
Activists have long touted marijuana as a non-addictive substitute for opioids. Also, Colorado was one of the early U.S. states that have legalized the recreational use of marijuana in 2014.
He added: “If it were nicotine, it would have been outlawed; well, it would have been handled differently. But this is a political issue.”
Instead, Sessions, believes there are “better alternatives” than medical marijuana. “We don’t have to go to that,” he advised.
“Marijuana has Medical Value”
During the summit, Dr. Vinila Singh, the Chief Medical Officer for the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, said marijuana has been shown to have medical value, but that more research is needed to find out its potential long-term gains and risks.
Singh has been working closely with Sessions on the opioid issue.
“I think with marijuana, there is more research necessary and that’s why a lot of large institutions don’t take a stance yet.”
During her presentation, Singh’s statistic showed that 25.3 million American adults suffer from daily pain, and of those, 23.4 million American adults report “a lot of pain.”
Her report showed that 11.8 million Americans misused opioids in 2016 with 11.5 million having misused prescription pain relievers.Share on Facebook