Watch: Sessions Says Hard Drugs Kill People but “Almost Zero” in Case of Cannabis

During his testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions made a startling comment for a federal official, who is widely known for being a hardline marijuana opponent.

In a reply to Alaska’s Sen. Lisa Murkowski, Sessions said: “I would be frank, our priorities are fentanyl, heroin, amphetamine, cocaine. People are dying in massive amounts.”

But cases related to small are rather “small,” “almost zero,” he acknowledged.

Murkowski was urging the federal government not to interfere with her state’s “supremacy” over what it sees best on its marijuana laws.

While acknowledging that marijuana is not deadly, he continued with his old tone: “I don’t feel I can give a pass, some protections, sanctuary for it. That’s the maybe the main difference.”

Murkowski told Session that her state was “disappointed” after he reversed the Cole Memo earlier this year, which allowed for federal interference in marijuana operations that are already legal.

Federally, marijuana is prohibited. But there are nine U.S. states where recreational marijuana is legal and 29 others where medical cannabis is permitted and supported.

In 2015, Alaska became the third state at the time to allow the recreational use of marijuana.  In mid-February, the Alaska House also passed a bill for minimal marijuana possession record restrictions to allow people far more access to jobs.

During the panel, Sessions also acknowledged that there are some medicinal benefits coming from marijuana but dismissed that the green herb is able to lower opioid-based overdose deaths in the “long run,” Marijuana Moment reported.

Sessions had previously said that two Bufferin pills could help instead of taking an opioid-based prescription to relieve pain.

However, he indicated that the federal government would soon take steps to license more entities to legally grow marijuana for research, reflecting a slowly growing trend of the U.S. political establishment easing their stance on marijuana.