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Headlines: Congressmen Grill Active DEA Admin over MedMJ vs Opioids

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Headlines: Congressmen Grill Active DEA Admin over MedMJ vs Opioids

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Podcast available at https://www.patreon.com/posts/18712062.

Congressmen grilled Acting DEA Administrator Robert Patterson about the role of medical marijuana in reducing the nation’s problems with opioids. Facing questions from California Democrat Eric Swalwell, Patterson invoked the idea that marijuana leads to opiate addictions, then downplayed that he did so. [PATTERSON CLIP: “Those same stories I hear all the time, I generally hear marijuana introduced, and, again, I’m not going to compare what’s better, what’s worse. I’m not going to say it’s a gateway, I’m not – the problem is that these things all seem to dovetail together.”] Later, Florida Republican Matt Gaetz pressed Patterson again on the gateway theory. [GAETZ CLIP: “But let’s just take the circumstance where a state has said marijuana is medicine. Is it your view that that adds to the substance abuse problem?” PATTERSON: “It is.”] Gaetz then demanded to see the proof. [GAETZ CLIP: “What studies show that medical marijuana would increase the use of opioids? Are there any?” PATTERSON: “I don’t know.”] In the end, Gaetz completely exposed the lack of understanding of medical marijuana guiding the policymakers at the DEA. [GAETZ CLIP: “And you’re unaware of the studies, including studies from the National Academy of Sciences, that demonstrate that medical marijuana can be an acceptable alternative to opioids, is that what I’m understanding?” PATTERSON: “Yes.”]

In remarks before the Gatlinburg Law Enforcement Training Conference in Tennessee yesterday, Attorney General Jeff Sessions once again touted the ‘tough on crime’ policies of the 1980s. [SESSIONS CLIP: “The War on Crime and Drugs did not fail; it was a rousing success.”] Sessions cited the reduction in drug use statistics among high school seniors and national homicide rates during the 1980s as evidence of the success. However, Sessions did not note that in the 1980s, our prison population doubled with almost no change in property crime rates. Sessions then asserted that only conservatives can formulate successful law enforcement policies. [SESSIONS CLIP: “That success came as a direct result of rejecting the criticism and policies of the progressive left.”]

So far, the sale of legal marijuana in California isn’t bringing in the green stuff. Broad legal sales kicked off on Jan. 1. State officials had estimated California would bank $175 million from excise and cultivation taxes by the end of June. But estimates released Tuesday by the state Legislative Analyst’s Office show just $34 million came in between January and March. Seth Kerstein, an economist with the office, says tax collections are expected to pick up significantly but it’s unlikely California will reap $175 million by midyear. The lackluster figure appears to reflect a bumpy rollout of licenses for the state’s new legal marketplace. Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration will release its own tax figures later this week.

While the Senate’s top Democrat backs the top Republican’s cannabis reform, the reverse is not true. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer are working together on the former’s bill to legalize industrial hemp. Reporters asked McConnell if he would repay the favor by endorsing Schumer’s bill to decriminalize marijuana. [MCCONNELL CLIP: “I do not have any plans to endorse legalization of marijuana.”] Later, reporters asked Schumer for his reaction and he pointed to the increased support for marijuana reform nationally. [SCHUMER CLIP: “62 percent of all Americans are for legalization of marijuana; we just called for decriminalization, let each state decide, don’t have federal enforcement.”]

Woody Harrelson is back in the ranks of active pot smokers. The actor appeared on Ellen, telling the comedian that he did, indeed, quit smoking pot, but was lured back into the fold by a red-headed stranger. [HARRELSON CLIP: “No, I did quit, but then I ran into this fella named Willie. I quit for, you know, almost two years.” ELLEN: “Really?” HARRELSON: “No smoking, no vaping.”] Harrelson explained how he was frequently offered marijuana by Willie Nelson, his longtime friend, but turned it down until one day, Harrelson noticed Nelson’s new signature cannabis product, Willie’s Reserve, while they were playing poker together. [HARRELSON CLIP: “Finally, he passes me the pen after I win a big pot, we’re playing poker, and I’m in a celebratory mood, and he hands me that pen, and I just snatch it. I go, ‘aw fuck it.’ (I realize I’m not supposed to say…) I take a big draw off it and he says, ‘welcome home, son.’”]

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