Attorney General Jeff Sessions made news in January for blaming marijuana for the opioid crisis. Political observers and investors alike are wondering what this means for the future of legal marijuana and the marijuana industry.
How does Sessions’ statements affect cannabis stocks and possibly what marijuana stocks to invest in for 2018?
During a speech at the Heritage Foundation to the Reagan Alumni Association in early February, Attorney General Sessions asserted that cutting prescriptions for opioid painkillers is crucial to combating the current opioid crisis that is taking a toll on America.
However, Sessions also claimed that legal marijuana use must be curtailed.
The Attorney General said, “The DEA said that a huge percentage of the heroin addiction starts with prescriptions. That may be an exaggerated number; they had it as high as 80 percent. We think a lot of this is starting with marijuana and other drugs too.”
In the past, Attorney General Sessions, claimed that “good people don’t smoke marijuana.” However, his claim that marijuana is a gateway drug which eventually leads to heroin use is deeply flawed.
Many people first experiment with marijuana, but, many researchers have argued that no strong evidence demonstrates that marijuana use leads to the use and abuse of harder drugs. Some argue that individuals use marijuana because it is more accessible than other illegal substances, and that many people’s first experiment with legal drugs such as alcohol or tobacco.
Sessions’ entire argument falls apart if legal marijuana were to become widely available to Americans.
According to a 2011 report from the Institute of Medicine, approximately 100 million US adults suffer from chronic pain, and even more suffer from acute pain. These figures are what doctors looked at while prescribing opioid painkillers at record rates in the 1990s and 2000s.
Over time, a number of Americans became dependent on opioids, leading many people not only to misuse and abuse painkillers, but, also use illicit opioids such as heroin or fentanyl. This, in turn, has lead to the epidemic of addiction and overdose that plagues contemporary America.
However, opioids are not the only drugs that can help pain patients manage their health issues.
The medical marijuana industry seems to offer a way to help deal with America’s pain problem without the risks of addiction.
According to a review of research, published by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, participants reviewed more than 10,000 studies to evaluate marijuana’s potential palliative value. This review concluded that there is “conclusive evidence” for marijuana’s value as a treatment for chronic pain and other diagnoses. Additionally, this report concluded that there is no compelling evidence that pot causes health complications, such as overdose, that can lead to death. This data provides compelling evidence in favor of legal marijuana.
Despite Attorney General Jeff Sessions’ unreasonable and uninformed arguments against legal marijuana, medical marijuana may potentially have a bright future.
In fact, a number of other countries have legal marijuana, whether recreational or medical, and those countries are not plagued by the same opioid crisis that America is currently experiencing.
A 2016 survey conducted by the University of Michigan found that chronic pain patients who used marijuana reported a 64% drop in opioid use. This survey bodes well for the future of legal marijuana, especially when used in a medical context.
Of course, this study shows a correlation–not causation. Nevertheless, as medical marijuana and opioids can fill such similar roles as palliative therapies, one can deduce a certain amount of cause in the data.
This data provides strong empirical evidence for the argument that improving access to legal marijuana could save lives by reducing opioid prescriptions and dependence.
This is contrary to what Attorney General Jeff Sessions has suggested about marijuana. The Attorney General’s ill-formed diatribe against marijuana is not necessarily a death knell for the marijuana industry.
(To learn more about Sessions and his effect on pot stocks, read Sessions’ Stand Against Pot Backfires, Raising Marijuana Stocks.)