Sessions, who pines for the days when Nancy Reagan’s “Just Say No” campaign helped “create a hostility to drug use,” was outraged when President Obama conceded, in a 2014 interview with The New Yorker, that marijuana is less dangerous than alcohol. “I have to tell you, I’m heartbroken to see what the president said just a few days ago,” Sessions told then-Attorney General Eric Holder at a Senate hearing. It’s stunning to me. I find it beyond comprehension….This is just difficult for me to conceive how the president of the United States could make such a statement as that….Did the president conduct any medical or scientific survey before he waltzed into The New Yorkerand opined contrary to the positions of attorneys general and presidents universally prior to that?”
At a hearing last April, Sessions bemoaned the message sent by marijuana legalization. “I can’t tell you how concerning it is for me, emotionally and personally, to see the possibility that we will reverse the progress that we’ve made,” he said. “It was the prevention movement that really was so positive, and it led to this decline [in drug use]. The creating of knowledge that this drug is dangerous, it cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.”
In both of these cases, we see Sessions’ insistence that truth be subordinated to the anti-drug cause. It is beyond serious dispute that alcohol is more dangerous than marijuana, as measured by acute toxicity, impact on driving ability, frequency of addiction, and the long-term effects of heavy consumption. But Sessions thinks the president should not admit that, lest he encourage teenagers to smoke pot. It is patently absurd to suggest that everyone who tries cannabis—which includes at least two-fifths of the population and probably more like half, allowing for underreportingby survey respondents—is a bad person. But Sessions thinks the government should “send that message with clarity,” the better to discourage teenagers from smoking pot.