In a leaked video obtained by ABC News of a question-and-answer session between Department of Justice interns and Attorney General Jeff Sessions from an event last summer, the former Alabama senator claimed that drugged-driving was responsible for more vehicular deaths than alcohol last year and did not directly answer a policy question about why his stance on guns is more lax than his cannabis stance.
“You support pretty harsh policies for marijuana and pretty lax gun control laws – I’m not even sure where you stand on the assault weapons ban – so I’d like to know since guns kill more people than marijuana, why lax laws on one and harsh laws on the other?” an unnamed female intern asked the attorney general.
“Well, that’s an apples and oranges question,” Sessions says, chuckling, before defending his gun stance by citing the Second Amendment.
“The Second Amendment – you are aware of that?” he begins as the audience laughs, “guarantees the right to the American people to keep and bare arms and I intend to defend that Second Amendment – it’s as valid as the First Amendment. … Look there is this view that marijuana is harmless, and it does no damage. I believe last year was the first year that automobile accidents that occurred were found to have been caused more by drugs than by alcohol.”
Sessions is citing the Governors Highway Safety Association report which found that 43 percent of motorists who died in traffic accidents had drugs in their system, compared to 37 percent who tested positive for alcohol; however. experts argued that the report should be taken with some caution because only 57 percent of drivers killed in car accidents were tested for drugs.
Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety told CNN that there also “isn’t very consistent testing for drivers who are killed in crashes with regard to drugs.”4
“We don’t have a good handle on what to do about it, but we do know how to address alcohol impairment, which remains a major problem,” he said in the report. “Another problem, particularly with marijuana, is that people often combine the two, so how do you separate them?”
Sessions went on to say that “marijuana is not a healthy substance” and the American Medical Association’s opinion is “crystal clear” and aligned with his own. He asked the intern whether she agreed with him and the AMA, to which she responded, “I don’t.”
“Okay, so, Doctor whatever-your-name-is, so you can write to the AMA and see why they think otherwise,” Sessions remarked.
Although the video is from the summer, Sessions has not budged on his prohibitionist view and has urged Congress to restore funding to the Justice Department for federal enforcement of state-legal cannabis programs.
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