Attorney General Jeff Sessions is being a lot more open mouthed about his intentions toward legal cannabis now that he has been confirmed. Sessions more or less declared war on cannabis yesterday, linking cannabis legalization to violence. This claim is complete nonsense, or what the Trump administration would probably refer to as an alternative fact. There is absolutely no evidence that cannabis legalization has led to an increase in violent crime.
Last night in a statement AG Sessions said, “I believe it’s an unhealthy practice, and current levels of THC in marijuana are very high compared to what they were a few years ago, and we’re seeing real violence around that.” So, what he’s saying there is that more potent cannabis is causing people to be more violent. He’s basically calling people who use cannabis violent thugs.
There are some studies that claim that cannabis does cause violent behavior, but they admit that they can’t prove a causal relation between cannabis use and violent behavior. If you don’t know anything about scientific research, correlation does not equal causation. It’s like how people say that washing your car will make it rain. Even though it may seem like the rain was caused by you washing your car, you can’t claim that as a fact because you have no proof of a causal link.
You know what does make you violent? Alcohol. There is also tons of research that shows a causal link between violence and alcohol. The two are practically synonymous with each other.
Sessions also went on to say, “Experts are telling me there’s more violence around marijuana than one would think and there’s big money involved.” He made the claim that legal marijuana sales are linked to violence. A cursory Google search yielded quite different results. A study back in 2014 revealed that cannabis legalization may have decreased crime instead. Drug cartels have been hit extremely hard by cannabis legalization, and there has been a definite decrease in cartel related violence.
As far as Sessions’ comment about “a lot of big money involved” is concerned, sure cannabis is a billion dollar industry. The cannabis industry also has no lobbying power in Congress. The alcohol and pharmaceutical industry do have a and there is definitely big money involved. Recreational cannabis has led to a decrease in use of both alcohol and prescription pills. Sessions also recently rescinded Obama’s order to phase out private prisons, so there is likely a connection there.
You know what you will happen if he decides to enforce federal laws and things go back to the way they were? I can tell you that there will probably be a sharp increase in violence, and definitely incarceration. All of which will disproportionately affect the most vulnerable people in America: the poor.
Fortunately, it seems that the rest of the country doesn’t agree. A growing majority of Americans want legalization, and they strongly oppose enforcing federal prohibition in legal states. This is going to be a long fight, but I think that ultimately we will win.
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