The medical benefits of cannabis can clearly no longer be ignored. If Sen. Orrin Hatch, a Republican, Mormon senator from Utah is on board, even Attorney General Jeff Sessions has run out of excuses.
“The evidence shows that cannabis possesses medicinal properties that can truly change people’s lives for the better,” said the Senator last month, while introducing legislation to take away roadblocks impeding studies on marijuana’s medical potential. “I strongly support research into the medicinal benefits of marijuana, and I remain committed to helping patients find the help they need, whether they suffer from cancer, severe seizures or any other chronic disorder.”
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Since making the statements, Hatch has made cannabis a talking point wherever he goes. Even in tweets and videos, the senator and seemingly his staff have made marijuana a priority for outreach.
And it seems like a punchline. The senator previously had been vocally and voraciously opposed to cannabis reform.
Even if the senator claims his stance hasn’t changed as he’s for “any good medicine,” it has, and quite substantially. In fact, his “just say no” record goes back to a 1977 vote on decriminalizing small amounts of cannabis, saying his “no” vote was in order to not send the wrong message. But he didn’t stop there.
Even though the vote still cleared the panel 6-4 without his support, after that 1977 vote, Hatch threatened to call for an amendment adding prison time for small amounts of possession. The panel then dropped the original decrim plans.
Almost 20 years later, Hatch was promoted to the chair of said panel, at the end of 1996 Clinton was in office and California and Arizona had just voted in the first medical marijuana laws.
“Perhaps the most effective way to handle this would be to work with concerned citizens in Arizona and California who want to modify or repeal these initiatives,” he said. “I would like to know what the administration’s thinking is in this area and who is going to make these decisions as soon as possible because I think we can’t let this go without a response.”
Then, he cited the DEA and other governmental cannabis opponents, Hatch said the “asserted medical benefits of marijuana have been rejected,” “marijuana is likely to be more cancer-causing than tobacco” and that the cannabis state initiatives “send the wrong message to our youth and easily could worsen the problem.”
That’s a pretty big 180°, but we’ll take it! Now if we could just get Sessions to see the light.