Rep. Pete Sessions (R-Tex.) took a page out of Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ handbook when he made derisive comments about marijuana at an opioid summit at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas on Feb. 20. He focused on extreme cannabis potency and the debunked gateway theory, two common targets of drug warriors.
“I refer to marijuana as merchants, this is a merchants of addiction. They are making it more powerful and more powerful and more powerful,” Sessions stressed. “I graduated high school in 1973. Marijuana, on average, is 300 times more powerful [than it was then]. That becomes an addictive element for a child to then go to the next thing.”
He related a story about “a dear friend of mine, David Siegel, a wealthy man, one of the wealthiest men in America. He had an 18-year-old daughter who was in treatment, I believe for marijuana and maybe cocaine. She met a boy there and within three weeks after being out she was dead. She came back and did what she had been doing after being off it.”
Victoria Siegel died in 2015 from an overdose of methadone and sertraline; she reportedly used the drugs to control her seizures.
In another personal account, Sessions mentioned a Boy Scout who went to Texas A&M, where he became a drug user. Of course, it started with marijuana. “At the end of the first year, he was well into it,” the Congressman spun his yarn. “By the second year, he was into heroin. The drive for addictions with some of our children is insatiable. You just never know when you’re looking at a kid what drives them.”
Sessions, who chairs the House Rules Committee, was the only speaker at the event to claim marijuana use leads to opioid addiction. “Where do they start?” he asked at one point. “If it’s marijuana, we ought to stand up and be brave in the medical community to say this political direction is not right. 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. If it were nicotine, it would have been handled differently. But this is a political issue.”
Exactly. Rep. Sessions, whose district is an oddly shaped chunk of north Dallas and its northeastern suburbs, is up for re-election in 2018. NORML has given him an F grade for voting against the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment, among other things. Hopefully, groups like Dallas Fort Worth NORML will lead the charge to unseat Texas’ Reefer Madness spouting representative.
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