Jeff’s Reefer Madness

From an editorial in the Decatur (Alabama) Daily:

The U.S. is in the middle of an opioid epidemic.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, from 2014 to 2015, overdose-related deaths from one opioid alone, heroin, increased by 20.6 percent, with nearly 13,000 people dying in 2015.

Meanwhile, there remain no known marijuana overdose deaths, according to the Drug Enforcement Administration, and studies have found states that have legalized marijuana have seen a decrease in opioid-related deaths.

So, of course, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions has decided to ramp up the fight against legal marijuana.

On Thursday, Sessions rescinded the Obama administration’s relatively hands-off policy toward states that have legalized marijuana for either medical or recreational use. Federal prosecutors where marijuana is legal under state law will now be free to decide for themselves how aggressively to enforce federal laws.

The editorial points to a post at Wonkblog that says SWAT raids of marijuana dealers have caused more deaths than marijuana itself. “Since 2010, At least 20 SWAT raids involving suspected marijuana dealers have turned deadly,” it says. The number of deaths attributed to marijuana overdoses, of course, remains at zero. For all  time. Apparently it’s not possible to kill yourself with too much pot.

But what is Sessions doing about the opioid crisis? Which, according to the New York Times, is “the deadliest drug crisis in American history. Overdoses, fueled by opioids, are the leading cause of death for Americans under 50 years old — killing roughly 64,000 people last year, more than guns or car accidents, and doing so at a pace faster than the H.I.V. epidemic did at its peak.”

Well, pretty much all the stuff the government has been doing all these years that didn’t work. This happened in November:

Attorney General Jeff Sessions on Wednesday announced a variety of measures to deal with the nation’s opioid problem which amount to: Pick ’em up, lock ’em up, throw away the key. He was, in short, reigniting the failed “war on drugs.”

Sessions held a press conference at the Department of Justice focusing on what he called “the worst drug crisis in American history,” offering a plan with about the worst approach to this problem – proven to have failed countless times over the past 100 years.

It gets better.

To add dark comedy to this unfolding tragic drama, we are also told that Kellyanne Conway, the supremely over the top White House adviser and spokesperson, will be put in charge of the varied efforts to control the opioid epidemic. In effect, is she being named the unofficial White House “drug czar,” since none has been officially appointed? Maybe this would seem comic were not 142 Americans dying of overdoses every day, over 60,000 in the past year, which is more than homicides and deaths from motor vehicle accidents combined. Sessions called Conway “exceedingly talented,” for what I do not know.

That was November, though. This happened this week:

In May 2016, Taylor Weyeneth was an undergraduate at St. John’s University in New York, a legal studies student and fraternity member who organized a golf tournament and other events to raise money for veterans and their families.

Less than a year later, at 23, Weyeneth, was a political appointee and rising star at the Office of National Drug Control Policy, the White House office responsible for coordinating the federal government’s multibillion dollar anti-drug initiatives and supporting President Trump’s efforts to curb the opioid epidemic. Weyeneth would soon become deputy chief of staff.

His brief biography offers few clues that he would so quickly assume a leading role in the drug policy office, a job recently occupied by a lawyer and a veteran government official. Weyeneth’s only professional experience after college and before becoming an appointee was working on Trump’s presidential campaign.

In other words, don’t expect to see the opioid crisis to get better anytime soon.

But something else has been nagging at me; this happened in December.

After two years of painstaking investigation, David Schiller and the rest of the Drug Enforcement Administration team he supervised were ready to move on the biggest opioid distribution case in U.S. history.

The team, based out of the DEA’s Denver field division, had been examining the operations of the nation’s largest drug company, McKesson Corp. By 2014, investigators said they could show that the company had failed to report suspicious orders involving millions of highly addictive painkillers sent to drugstores from Sacramento, Calif., to Lakeland, Fla. Some of those went to corrupt pharmacies that supplied drug rings.

The investigators were ready to come down hard on the fifth-largest public corporation in America, according to a joint investigation by The Washington Post and “60 Minutes.”

And then this happened:

Instead, top attorneys at the DEA and the Justice Department struck a deal earlier this year with the corporation and its powerful lawyers, an agreement that was far more lenient than the field division wanted, according to interviews and internal government documents. Although the agents and investigators said they had plenty of evidence and wanted criminal charges, they were unable to convince the U.S. attorney in Denver that they had enough to bring a case.

In other words, the DEA Denver division was about to bring the hammer down on a dirty company and major opioid distributor, and the Washington DEA Office and Justice Department intervened to let the company off the hook. One suspects some favors were done for somebody. But nobody’s gonna sell any of that marijuana if Jeff Sessions has anything to say about it.

13 thoughts on “Jeff’s Reefer Madness

  1. You heard him "Good people don't smoke marijuana".

    Forty years of being moralized to by Republicans, culminating in R Congressmen and R Senators lying about what T said or can't recall.

    Situational ethics.

  2. Let's not forget how useful felony convictions for marijuana possession (with or without intent to distribute) are in disenfranchising the "wrong" kinds of voters.

  3. Just another distraction. This is about drugs like the civil war was about states rights. Immigration is about merit like the civil war was about states rights.

    Read The unmasking of a Trumpist re Mr Anton and his anonymous rascist argument. Read Lawfare blog and see the whole texting argument taken apart like the Simpson testimony took apart the dossier argument.

    The incessant posturing  of Republican senators and congressmen and a DHS secretary lying about what T bragged about to his friends afterwards, why because the courts will overturn his racist immigration orders if his words are used against him. So the Rs pretend he said something else after 3 days of I can't recall. What you are witnessing is the fight for white male hegemony. 

    I care not for endless arguments that it is about the poor white people in the middle who feel left behind. They don't want to lose their mindset that they are superior by color regardless of their circumstances. They are angry that they have to compete here at home with 'others' in order to have a nice white comfortable life.

  4. If I'm not mistaken, most of the deaths from meth and pharmaceutical-grade opioids are white.

    Usually, our government drags its feet – or plants them in cement – when drugs kill brown people, but jumps into action when they affect whites.

    But this time, I think that the sheer incompetence of this mal-mal-administration prevents them from saving even white lives. 

    Also too – corruption.  You can't put white pharmaceutical CEO's in jail!  They're major contributors to the Republican Party!!  Besides, sure the majority of people dying from opioid's are white, and sure, they might be GOP voters, but how much money do THEY contribute?  Pro able not much… 

    So, if you're too incompetent and corrupt to do anything, better then to stick to what's tried and true in government drug policy:   Find drugs that more brown people tend to use/abuse, keep them illegal, and keep America white by continuing to brown our prisons.  

    And so, the evil KKKeebler elf who's our  AG, will continue his and the conservative's "Reefer Madness."

    • “I think that the sheer incompetence of this mal-mal-administration prevents them from saving even white lives.” Yeah, that and the perception that most of the white opioid users are at the lower end of the working class, which makes them expendable to Republicans except on election day.

  5. I may have mentioned this before but as a RN, I worked for a time in a CD (chemical dependency) unit.  We had protocols for alcohol and opioid addictions, none for marijuana, nicotine or cocaine use.  Of course, nicotine was legal and even though evidence was that it was responsible for more deaths than all other drugs combined, it was legal and accepted and some health care workers smoked.  There were even smoke breaks for the patients.  We had no treatment for cocaine users other than just to let them sleep it off.  They would sometimes sleep for 24 hrs. straight, then be discharged.  Marijuana was not even considered addictive.  I retired 12 years ago so things may have changed but I would be willing to bet cigarette smoking is still the deadliest drug out there.  When I attended cardiac rehab, the info I got that the one best thing a person could do to protect their health and not have another heart attack is quit smoking.  The curious thing about nicotine poisoning is it takes a long time because only a small amount is ingested at one time. The body can recover and repair the damage as much as possible. I once read that if the amount of nicotine in one pack of cigarettes was consumed at one time, it would be deadly.  But we have Sessions, that swarmy character from where, I can't remember.  Is it Alabama?  Anyway, I get nauseated everytime I see his face so he is poison to me.  Good I have this venue to vent my frustrations. 

  6. Consider the power of MLK's "I Have a Dream" speech delivered to roughly 250,000 people on the Washington Mall. It's estimated that three-fourths of the attendees were black. A year later the Voting Rights Act was passed. Domestic terrorism by the KKK was no longer tolerated by the FBI – those who had hunted and beaten African-Americans into near-total submission became the targets of federal prosecution.

    Consider the plight of racists who need a new method of striking fear and a sense of helplessness into minorites when burning crosses and pointy hats are no longer in vogue. 

    Enter the "War on Drugs" with selective enforcement. Couple that with the unwritten crime of "driving while black" and add "random" searches on the street (almost always of minorities – imagine that.). This is the racist backlash to minorities demanding equality and meaning it. Jeff Sessions and Herr Trump are the two highest-placed overt bigots in the federal government since the tide turned on institutional bigotry in the 1960s. 

    "Everything old is new again." Welcome back, bigotry. MLK must be spinning in his grave.

    These people are starting to irritate me.

  7. OT. I have resolved not to complain about Trump golfing since he was on the course and out of touch when the false alarm happened in Hawaii. The further he is from the decision-making process, the better. He can play all the golf he wants. Democrats should start a "Please go golfing, Trump" movement.

  8. Doug:  I'm not so sure your approach would be effective.  As I understand the president's job, the so-called football is not very far away from his person.  Remember when 9/11 happened, Bush was in a school somewhere and he was notified immediately.  As far as the decision making process is concerned, Trump has no clue.  He depends on his so-called intuition and he is a reactor.  He lashes out at any perceived threat, real or unreal.  So no matter where he is, he has the opportunity to make a stupid decision.  I have heard he listens to nobody's advice so we are all in trouble.  That is, unless there is a golf course on Mars and we can persuade him to go there.  I agree with you, his supporters are beginning to irritate me also.  I sincerely wonder what people are thinking (or not) when they claim he is doing a good job and we should want him to be successful.  Well success to him is what's good for Trump not the country and all the people he says he cares about.  If there are aliens watching, isn't it time for another abduction?

  9. Grannyeagle – I'm not sure my approach would keep Trump from triggering a nuclear strike. A comedian in Vegas, unhappy with his room said it "was co cramped even the rats have stooped shoulders." from the stage. The hotel demanded a retraction and apology and in the next show he explained his previous comments (exactly and fully repeating them) with the joke out there he declared "the rats do not have stooped shoulders." The second statement is the one remembered

    Keeping Trumps golfing out there in the public eye without whining is easy and effective if democrats thank Trump for golfing and encourage it. The satire will get more air time and it will force Trump to defend that he's a part-time president. The issue won't be because democrats are making accusations – it will be because the discussion in the media includes the count of how many days and how much money is going to Trump properties so fat-ass can be on the golf course.

  10. We liberls should show our caring natures by sending tRUMP McDonalds and KFC gift certificates!

    To your (ill) health!

    Enjoy, Mr. President!!!


  11. The New Dumb, HST, Woody Creek, 1989

    …."Are you crazy?  I'd rather have a truckload of pig entrails dumped in my front yard by some of those tattooed guys from Yakuza."

      It is an ancient and honorable method of collecting debts in Japan, but not yet chic in this country.  The Yakuza , however, are said to be infiltrating American cities at a rate that will soon make them the second most powerful political organization in this nation, behind only the Republican Party.

      The Mafia ranks No.3—followed by the Roman Catholic Church, the IRS, the U.S. Congress, and the American Marijuana Growers' Association.

      Indeed.  There are many rooms in the mansion.  James Angelton said that back when the CIA was still a ranking power….

      The Democratic Party is not even listed in the top twenty, despite a number-four ranking two years ago."…."

    This list may have shuffled some in the last almost thirty years, but the American Marijuana Growers Association was high on it (no pun intended) even then.  I am not seeing the Yakuza infiltration as threatening as it was viewed then, but I do not even know how to spell or pronounce it.  Seems to be a power struggle by some top political organizations for alpha dog status.  A lot of otherwise apolitical types are  not high on the Republican Party coming out on top on this one either.  

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