For a while now, I’ve been writing about our attorney general, the former Alabama senator named after two traitors, Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III. I’ve got all sorts of nicknames for him, like Keebler Gump and Slingblade Hobbit. In earlier times, I wouldn’t stoop to such juvenile name-calling, but with a president who’s set the standard for calling world leaders names like Rocket Man and Crooked Hillary, I feel there’s no point in not stooping.
But lately, I’ve come to think Sessions isn’t an elf or a hobbit. The Tolkien creation he now reminds me of is Gollum, and “Just Say No” is his Precious.
“Today, we are facing the deadliest drug crisis in American history,” said Sessions in his prepared remarks. “In 2015, a record 52,000 Americans lost their lives to drug overdoses—1,000 American lives every week. That’s more than the population of Charleston. More Americans died of drug overdoses than died from car crashes or died from AIDS at the height of the AIDS epidemic. For Americans under the age of 50, drug overdoses are now the leading cause of death.”
What’s the answer? Precious knows the answer. Precious has known since 1982.
Sessions’ Best Long-Term Solution?—Just Say No!
“Treatment is important,” Sessions claimed. “But treatment cannot be our only policy. The best long-term solution is prevention. The best action is not to start. Just say no.”
Gollum’s reliance on “Just Say No” is built on the fiction that completely sober individuals are deciding to go meet a heroin dealer one day and get themselves addicted for fun. The fact is that most people who end up with a dependence on opioids started by getting free pain pills that were prescribed for someone else they know.
And don’t think for a second that Gollum is going to just leave it up to you to “Just Say No.” Precious must be upheld with force!
“Prevention is what we at the Department do every day—because law enforcement is prevention,” Sessions explained. “Enforcing our laws helps keep drugs out of our country, drive up their price and reduce their purity, availability and addictiveness.”
Gollum’s slavish devotion to Precious comes from his feebleminded understanding of drug use statistics from the 1980s. He’d eagerly show you the statistics that say “marijuana use by high school seniors in the previous 12 months fell to 38.8 percent in 1986, the lowest level since the survey began in 1975; similarly, the 23.4 percent reporting such use in the past 30 days was also the lowest in the period.”
Then, of course, he’d forget to follow that up with the next paragraph that explains, “Self-reports of drug use among high school seniors underrepresent drug use among youth of that age group because high school dropouts and truants are not included, and these groups are expected to have more involvement with drugs than those who stay in school.”
Also, he’d fail to show you the next chart of teen cocaine use that was double in the 1980s what it was in the 1970s.
The 1980s Were A Drug Policy Disaster
As for those price, purity, availability and addictiveness claims?
Availability: In 1989, perceived availability of heroin to 12th graders increased over half from 1981. Cocaine’s went from 47.5 percent to 55 percent over that span. (Meth’s availability wasn’t surveyed back then.)
In fact, the only way in which the “Just Say No” 1980s succeeded in the way Gollum claims was on marijuana. In 1989, the price-per-bulk gram for an ounce or less of weed was more than double what it was in 1981.
Sinsemilla (top shelf) purity (potency) rose from about 6.5 percent in 1981 to about seven percent in 1989, with greater rises for hash oil and marijuana (mids). Availability did decline, but just about 1/20th—from 89.2 percent of 12th graders who said it was easy to get pot to 84.3 percent (today, it’s 81 percent). And, of course, exactly as many people died from marijuana overdoses in 1989 as did in 1981, or, for that matter, any other year in history—zero!
MAGA—Malign All Good Alternatives
Journalist Maia Szalavitz—who knows more than most about cocaine and heroin dependence—is the Galadriel on this issue compared to Sessions as Gollum. Writing with a wisdom that comes from experience and diligent research, Szalavitz explained, “If we want to reduce opioid addiction, we have to target the real risk factors for it: child trauma, mental illness and unemployment.”
Galadriel then dropped the science.
“Two thirds of people with opioid addictions have had at least one severely traumatic childhood experience,” Szalavitz wrote. “At least half of people with opioid addictions also have a mental illness or personality disorder… [and] heroin addiction rates among people who make less than $20,000 a year are 3.4 times higher than in people who make over $50,000.”
In other words, people don’t “Just Say No” to pain medication when they are suffering from pain. It just so happens that not all pain is physical.
A safer alternative for people suffering from psychic pain is cannabis. By now, you have read the statistics showing less opiate prescribing, opiate use, opiate addiction, opiate-related car crashes and opiate overdose deaths in states with legal access to marijuana.
But for Gollum, that just can’t be true, because… because my Precious!
Marijuana—The Gateway to Drug War
“I see a line in the Washington Post today that I remember from the ’80s,” Sessions said back in February. “‘Marijuana is a cure for opiate abuse.’ Give me a break. This is the kind of argument that’s been made out there to just—almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even its benefits.”
For Sessions, those statistics showing a decline in marijuana use and an increase in marijuana price from the 1980s are all he needs to see, because he believes that it’s the acceptance of the demon reefer that’s leading to all this opiate abuse.
“I realize this may be an unfashionable belief in a time of growing tolerance of drug use… I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana,” said Sessions in March. “So people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another, that’s only slightly less awful.”
Back in 2016, Gollum directly invoked the long-debunked gateway drug theory as a reason to keep marijuana illegal.
“We need grown-ups in charge in Washington saying marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought to be minimized, that it is in fact a very real danger. You can see the accidents, traffic deaths related to marijuana,” he said. “And you’ll see cocaine and heroin increase more than it would have, I think.”
There is no hope for rehabilitating the drug-war-ravaged mind of Jeff Sessions. Like Gollum, his sanity has long since been perverted by his adoration for his Precious.