Loretta Lynch said last week that marijuana is not the dangerous drug it has been labeled in the past and instead blamed prescription drug abuse for the nation's heroin epidemic.
Long accused of being a gateway drug, Marijuana has now been officially vindicated by US Attorney General Loretta Lynch. On September 21st, Lynch told a group of high school students in Richmond, Kentucky that marijuana is not the dangerous drug it has been made out to be. She instead shifted blame to prescription drugs, blaming them for the heroin epidemic in Kentucky and many other parts of the country. The high school event was part of National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week, an awareness week prompted by the opiate overdose crisis, which has been called a public health emergency by Canadian and US government officials. In the US, an estimated 46 people die daily by overdosing on legal opioids. In 2014, 1,087 people in Kentucky died due to a heroin overdose, the most recent statistics available.
Lynch said that “In so many cases, it isn’t trafficking rings that introduce a person to opioids. It’s the household medicine cabinet. That’s the source.” She also directly stated that most people with heroin addiction problems began with a prescription drug problem that ultimately compels addicts to seek out heroin. These remarks, in particular, may have been influenced by the widespread availability of legal opiates like fentanyl, which is actually stronger than heroin and has drastically worsened the heroin epidemic in the US and Canada. She also said that marijuana was not “the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids” instead remarking that a tendency among people to experiment, in general, was responsible for marijuana use’s association with heavy drugs.
However, Lynch still chose to frame the plant as a potentially harmful substance, warning students of associated health hazards but skipping over its scientifically-documented health benefits. Lynch also affirmed that she strongly opposes the federal legalization of marijuana saying that neither her nor the Department of Justice would support such a measure. Lynch’s relaxed stance on marijuana use likely follows successful legalization in several states for both recreational and medicinal use. Her change of heart was also likely influenced by a recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association which recorded a 25% decline in opioid-related deaths in states where the plant’s use was legal. Despite the link between marijuana legalization and declines in opioid overdoses, Obama has allocated $1.1 billion in new funding to fight opioid abuse by other means. Will they be successful or will they just do more to enrich pharmaceutical companies?
Watch Lynch’s full address below:
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