09.21.2016
policy

U.S. Attorney General Says Weed Is Not a Gateway to Opioid Addiction

Pharmaceutical products are behind today's heroin scourge.

United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch has taken a clear step away from the conventional propaganda that marijuana use is a gateway to drug addiction. The Attorney General was speaking today at a town hall event in Richmond, Kentucky as outreach for President Barack Obama’s National Prescription Opioid and Heroin Epidemic Awareness Week. Lynch singled out prescriptions drugs as the primary driver of the current crisis in drug addiction.

“When you look at someone that, for example, has a heroin problem,” said Lynch, “it very often started with a prescription drug problem. Something totally legal. Something in every medicine cabinet. Something you can have prescribed to you in good faith by a doctor.”

"When we talk about heroin addiction, we usually are talking about individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem."

More than 46,000 people die every year in the United States from prescription drug and heroin overdose. More people succumb to narcotic overdoses than to traffic fatalities or to gun violence. Half of these deaths are related to prescription opioid abuse.

Student Tyler Crafton, of Madison Central High School, perhaps seeking clarification or a little justification, pressed Lynch on the widely taught theory that marijuana use leads to harder drugs, in this case opioid abuse.

“There a lot of discussion about marijuana these days,” replied the Attorney General. “Some states are making it legal, people are looking into medical uses for it. I understand that it still is as common as almost anything. When we talk about heroin addiction, we usually are talking about individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem, and then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin. It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids.”

You can see the entire town hall in the video above.

Lynch didn't give weed use a total hall pass. “If you tend to experiment with a lot of things in life, you may be more inclined to experiment with drugs,” she said, and not totally as if that experimentation is a good thing.

Attorney General Lynch followed up that implied admonition with a but, and it's a big but: “It’s not as though we are seeing that marijuana is a specific gateway.”

Thanks to Merry Jane for turning us on.

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