The Seattle Times, the largest newspaper in the Pacific Northwest region, took a direct shot at the Trump administration’s attempt to revive the failed war on drugs. In an editorial headlined “Feds, don’t fight pot — enlist it in the opioid war,” the family-owned paper urged Attorney General Jeff Sessions to reverse course on his anti-marijuana crusade.
The editorial board wrote that Sessions’ “veiled threat toward states with legal marijuana might actually hinder America’s ability to solve the nation’s real drug problem: The opioid crisis.”
Washington citizens voted in 2012 to legalize recreational cannabis and the state has had a lucrative retail industry for nearly five years. Since legalization, more than $740 million in tax revenue has been added to the state’s coffers.
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But it’s not the added tax revenue that provoked the 10-time Pulitzer Prize-winning paper to write the editorial. The critical issue is the worsening opioid addiction epidemic spreading across the nation.
According to the editorial:
Two new studies suggest that when medical marijuana is legally and easily available, patients may be more likely to turn to pot instead of highly addictive opioids to treat their pain.
One of the studies found that in states with medical cannabis dispensaries, there was a 14 percent reduction in the number of opioid prescriptions among Medicare patients, who are typically 65 or older.
The other study examined Medicaid data and found similar results, suggesting that loosening marijuana laws may lower the use of prescription opioids among this primarily low-income population. The researchers found that states that legalized medical pot had roughly a 6 percent lower rate of prescribing opioids compared to states that outlawed marijuana.
This is not the first time the Times editorial board has been critical of Sessions and his “good people don’t smoke marijuana” belief system. Earlier this year, when the controversial attorney general announced his cannabis crackdown, the Times wrote: “We know Attorney General Jeff Sessions is a small, backward-looking man with even smaller, more backward-looking ideas, but what was the thinking behind his new federal crackdown on legal marijuana? Punish the blue states?”
The times cited a Pew Research Center survey revealing that 61 percent of Americans favor legalizing cannabis.