When it comes to drug use, Attorney General Jeff Sessions thinks marijuana dependency is only "slightly less awful" than heroin dependency.
During a speech in Richmond, Virginia, to an audience of federal, state and local law enforcement on Wednesday, Sessions — the highest legal authority in the United States — said that he rejects "the idea that America will be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner store."
"I am astonished to hear people suggest that we can solve our heroin crisis by legalizing marijuana — so people can trade one life-wrecking dependency for another that's only slightly less awful," he said. "Our nation needs to say clearly once again that using drugs will destroy your life."
This isn't the 1980s, when incarceration rates soared under then-President Ronald Reagan's draconian anti-drug laws. It's 2017, and in the midst of a full-blown opioid crisis — the likes of which has been called the worst drug epidemic in American history — a politician earnestly believes that pot has the same capacity to ruin lives as heroin.
Which is, of course, demonstrably false.
Heroin deaths are an epidemic — marijuana deaths are nonexistent
According to the most recent data available from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 12,989 Americans died from heroin overdoses in 2015. The same year, the CDC reported zero marijuana-related deaths.
Legal weed creates jobs
An analysis from the Marijuana Policy Group found that the marijuana industry was responsible for the creation of 18,005 full-time jobs in Colorado in 2015 alone.
Legal marijuana also stimulates the economy
In the same year, the marijuana industry added nearly $2.4 billion to Colorado's economy — funds that were later earmarked to be used to fix the state's roads, address homelessness and create scholarships.
Treatment for opioid addiction costs the government millions
Former President Barack Obama allotted an additional $133 million in new investments to address the opioid epidemic in 2016.