In his prepared remarks, Sessions was slated to repeat a line that says marijuana use is “only slightly less awful” than heroin addiction. But, in the end, he chose not to say those words.
It’s not clear why Sessions removed the line from his speech at the event, which was being held in Richmond, Virginia. Instead of outrage over his comparison of marijuana to opioids, cannabis supporters are wondering what he meant when he questioned the status quo when it comes to abiding by the Cole Memo, as the Obama administration had done previously.
“The Cole Memorandum set up some policies under President Obama’s Department of Justice about how cases should be selected in those states, and what would be appropriate for federal prosecution, much of which I think is valid,” Sessions said in response to a question about whether his Department of Justice (DOJ) will sue states that have legalized rec, or if the department will prosecute any adult-use businesses.
“I may have some different ideas myself in addition to that,” Sessions said, “but essentially, we’re not able to go into a state and pick up the work that police and sheriffs have been doing for decades.”
According to Marijuana Business Daily, there are two main take-away’s from Sessions’ remarks for cannabis businesses.
First, the Trump administration may issue a stricter version of the Cole Memo, but those guidelines will likely remain in place for the foreseeable future. Secondly, the DOJ almost certainly won’t be starting a war on the cannabis industry.
It’s widely known that the comparison of pot to heroin is controversial, reports US News, “Heroin killed nearly 13,000 Americans in 2015 and related opioids another 20,000, and users often commit a wide range of crimes to support their addictions….Marijuana is used by a much larger population and doesn’t kill users — with legalization advocates arguing it’s even safer than alcohol.”