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Jeff Sessions’ (Unfounded) Love Letter to DARE

July 11, 2017
Attorney General Jeff Sessions at the Justice Department’s National Summit on Crime Reduction and Public Safety, in Bethesda, MD., on June 21, 2017. (Jacquelyn Martin/AP)
On Tuesday afternoon, Attorney General Jeff Sessions stood before a crowd at DARE America’s 30th International Training Conference in Grapevine, TX, and told the organization how grateful he was for its support of the war on drugs.

“No doubt about it. It helped turn the tide.”
Jeff Sessions, US attorney general

When the anti-drug group was founded in Los Angeles in 1983, the nation’s inner cities were on the precipice of a crack epidemic. “The nation rose to the occasion, and we successfully reversed those trends,” recalled Sessions, who was the US attorney for Georgia at the time.

“DARE became fundamental to our success,” he claimed. “No doubt about it. It helped turn the tide.”

One problem: Contrary to Sessions’ recollections, DARE didn’t work. Not according to the federal government, at least. In 2003, the US Government Accountability Office found “no significant differences in illicit drug use” as the result of the program. Numerous other studies supported that finding, reporting “no significant differences” between DARE students and others.

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That didn’t stop Sessions from singing DARE’s praises on Tuesday—or even offering an endorsement from President Donald J. Trump himself.

“We know it worked before, and we can make it work again,” Sessions told the audience. “I support you, the president supports you, and we are determined to see if we can make a big difference in America today—and I believe that we can.”


Since taking office as Trump’s attorney general, Sessions has pushed hard to restart the drug war, urging tough prosecutions and severe criminal penalties. And although much of his rhetoric has focused on the opioid epidemic and cross-border drug cartels, he’s taken aim at legal cannabis, too.

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In February, he claimed there’s “more violence around marijuana than one would think.” In April, his Justice Department began reviewing cannabis enforcement and the so-called Cole memo, which set an unofficial DOJ policy of respecting state cannabis laws. And in May, he sent a letter to congressional leaders asking them to remove a federal spending provision that prevents prosecutors from interfering with state-legal cannabis.

Over the course of his roughly 20-minute speech Tuesday, Sessions again spoke primarily on the scourge of opioids—both those prescribed by doctors and sold on the street. When he did bring up cannabis, however, he lumped it in with other dangerous drugs.

Substances are “now more powerful, more addictive, and more dangerous than ever. Even marijuana THC content is up several times,” he said. “They’re not just dangerous for users. Even being accidentally exposed to just a few grams of fentanyl can kill a police officer or a paramedic.”

The nation’s ongoing opioid epidemic kills nearly 100 Americans each day. Prescription drug overdoses are now the leading cause of accidental death in the United States.

Sessions is right to draw attention to the tragedy of opioid abuse. (“I’m so pained,” he said. “It hurts me so badly, to see the trends we’re on today.”) But he’s wrong to see cannabis as part of the problem. In fact, there’s good reason to believe legal cannabis has saved more lives than DARE has.

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In 2014, a study found that states with medical marijuana laws saw 25% fewer deaths from opioid overdoses than states without. And early evidence suggests that cannabidiol (CBD), a non-intoxicating compound produced by the plant, could actually help treat addiction. A few drug-rehab clinics have started using cannabis to help wean addicts off harder drugs, and some states have even considering adding opioid addiction as a qualifying condition for medical marijuana.

Moreover, the popular myth that cannabis acts as a so-called gateway drug to harder drug use has largely been disproven. Even Sessions’ predecessor, then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch, said in September 2016 that “It’s not as though we’re seeing that marijuana is a specific gateway.”

“When we talk about heroin addiction, we usually, as we have mentioned, are talking about individuals that started out with a prescription drug problem, and then because they need more and more, they turn to heroin,” she said. “It isn’t so much that marijuana is the step right before using prescription drugs or opioids.”

That might be news to Sessions—at least if he’s siding with DARE. When Leafly called the organization in February 2016 asking if it still saw cannabis as a gateway drug, DARE didn’t know. “To be quite honest, I really don’t have an answer,” a spokesperson said.

Related

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So why is the attorney general telling DARE things like, “We need you. We really need DARE”?

Apparently because so many people still remember the program from when they were kids.

“Whenever I ask adults around the age of 30 about prevention programs and what they remember, they remember the DARE program,” Sessions said Tuesday. “They consistently do.”

It’s not entirely clear what that’s supposed to prove. A lot of us remember Australia’s Stoner Sloth, too—as a joke.

I’m 31. I was in a DARE program in elementary school. I even sang a solo in my class’s DARE musical. (I’m pretty sure it was this song.) Now, almost 20 years later, I work for a cannabis publication. I’m all about responsible use, but I’ve long abandoned “just say no.”

Related

5 Reasons Why Jeff Sessions’ Drug War Reboot Will Fail

If Sessions is serious about wanting to save lives and improve communities in his role as AG, he’ll need to improve his appreciation for nuance. Public policies based on harm reduction sometimes seem counter-intuitive at first. Treating drug addiction with another drug? At first blush, that’s outlandish. But evidence suggests it might work—if not for everyone, at least as well as a largely defunct anti-drug organization born of drug war dogma.

Ben Adlin's Bio Image

Ben Adlin

Ben Adlin is a senior editor at Leafly who specializes in politics and the law. Follow him on Twitter: @badlin

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  • Robert Wayne

    I live in GA, when Sessions was here, it was hell. Still struggle with Sessions aftermath. He is a true Southern Bred Asshole, raised by Mom and Dad in heart of Segregated state, his dad owned a little store, tel ,me it was not segregated in 30s to 60s. Sessions grew up with the Ideas of Southern Baptist, taught good people do not use drugs.
    Trump has no Moral Anchor, he put the same Swamp in office he said he wanted to drain, Hillary, Joke. Sessions will not appoint prosecutor and bring charges on Her, but he will lock you up for 10 years if you smoke a joint or use medical marijuana. Total joke of the Unelected bureacrats in DC who run the country no matter who you vote for.

    • darkaquarian

      I live in Georgia too, I can’t w8 to get out of this place

  • Tonya Masters

    Jeff Sessions, just another ignorant ass hole that got picked on in school because he didn’t to smoke pot with the football team. And when he found out the cheerleader he had a crush on but never had the nerve to even say hello too, asked him to come over and smoke some pot, get naked, because she wanted his baby, refused to smoke pot and decided he would masturbate the rest of his life and never lust for another female again.

  • Robert Gerus

    What Sessions really means, is how do we continue to f%$k the american people and take away their livelihood for selling marijuana and other hard drugs like cocaine or heroin. Ok I can see the two hard drugs, But marijuana is Sessions a complete f%$ken idiot

    • lovingc

      Until all drugs are legalized they will be abused.

  • Brandon Miller

    What I really hope is that he’s not gaining support as a way to keep kids off drugs, appeal to older generations, and all the while going to turn DARE into attacking or claiming they’ve seem kids using more marijuana and that it’s hurting us. If that’s the case and the focus is on MJ I’ll keep my kids away and inform anyone to not support DARE if it comes back. We need sensible policies … DARE is not a substitute for being a good parent and informing your children.

  • Tonya Masters

    Robert, you insulting the complete f%$ken idiots by calling Sessions one. I see it as…

    When you are dead, you don’t know you are dead, it’s just rough on others.
    It’s the same when you are Stupid.

    Sessions sounds like he got all of his drug information from the 1960s series Dragnet
    with Sargent Joe Friday and his partner Bill Gannon “The facts ma’am only the facts”
    That moron is further from reality that the tooth fairy. He was probably that kid on the school playground that got beat up weekly from Girl Scouts and the Brownies. The kid with no friends that stayed home all the time, wearing his Moms granny panties with toilet paper wrapped around his head, playing dress up and he wants be like his grandma when he grows up, a loud obnoxious bitch that wants to ruin everybody’s fun just because she hates people that smile. You know the one you’ve heard in a restaurant talking louder than everyone else just so you know her colostomy bag had a hole in it yesterday on the plane, because the 4th security officer that thought he was feeling her up actually had a hangnail that poked her over flowing colostomy sack she’s had on for 2 days too long. So she lifts her shirt up so you can see what looks like a transparent Mickey mouse balloon filled with mud bubbles and corn. held together with a piece of duct tape and a half empty dried up ketchup packet.

    • John Hilger

      That was a truly masterful bitchin’ out. And in the Queen’s English, no less. I’m impressed and I agree with your sentiment. There is something very wrong with Mr. Sessions, but he doesn’t have to inflict it on the rest of the nation.

  • randolini

    Jeff Sessions is unaware and he is unaware that he is unaware. Damn shame that. In a land of stupid people, he is king.

    • Gary Craig

      It’s what I call being “willfully ignorant” about cannabis.

    • justadbeer

      lol…it’s good to be king!

  • Izzat So

    I remember seeing fancy expensive cars with DARE logos and insignias on the sides. Those were cartel/dealers autos that were confiscated under RICO by the DEA and donated to the DARE group. That may be their only obvious success.

  • lovingc

    Jeffy were you born stupid or did you study to sound like you left your brain in a jar under your bed? It doesn’t work Jeff It never worked and will never work now. Wake up this is not the 80’s it is not the 50’s you are in the 21st century! Things have changed. It is time to join the human race and let go of programs that only work in your mind!

  • The Resistance

    I echo the vitriol here for Jeff Sessions. He makes my blood boil.

    But I am here to give some positive feedback and would like to say, thank you, to Ben Adlin for this great piece. More people need to read this. Keep up the important work!

    Now I’m off to buy a DARE shirt to wear ironically…

  • Mirage Arts

    It boils down to reduction of prescription medication for pain. I’ve eliminated prescribed Naproxin, Motrin and topical’s using State legal cannabis based THC/CBD tincture and CBD ointment that works amazingly well. Even my other medical issues have diminished in intensity. D.A.R.E. is outdated and ineffective. Industrial hemp & Medical Cannabis should be taken off the Schedule 1 Drug List, and not be considered a drug at all. It’s his political motivation that keeps him deceitful and full of B.S.!

  • Timoth Shefield

    It’s kind of sad that he doesn’t realize that dare removed cannabis from their gateway drug and the reason why is because it’s not so dangerous than ever .the problem is people who are not longtime smokers try and start off with High grades even concentrates which can contain propane BHO which should not be smoked and could possibly have a negative drug type effect on a new user with no build-up to the amount of chemicals in adjusting. when that takes years of building yourself up to those grades of cannabis making them fall into a line of over users AKA druggies and it’s unfortunate that the mass is associated with the one Thief who stole a battery from Walmart now we all have to have our receipt

  • Michel Guzzetta

    Mr. Sessions has obviously never smoked pot, so he is talking about something he knows nothing about…..

  • Evan Young

    Unfortunately, Mr. Sessions and the rest of the regime he works for are excessively ignorant…. But, all y’all elected them!!! I casted my vote for Vermin Supreme, cause I wanted to actually make a difference. Lol

  • Leroy Mosley

    You can’t stop people who want to get their health better and medical marijuana does that . Jeff Sessions is a complete idiot and need to go. We’re the laughing stock of the world since President Trump made his cabinet appointees.

  • hyjyljyj

    Sessions needs to grasp this fact: NO prohibition, of anything, has ever worked. It never will, because HAVING or GETTING what we want is what humans do. And we do it better than any other species that ever existed . Guns, abortions, drugs, you name it. There is simply no power on earth that can stop it. And even if there were, that’s the last kind of power you’d ever want unleashed on society.

    Trump has spoken out forcefully in favor of nationwide legalization for medical and states’ rights for recreational. He needs to sit the yard gnome down and explain the economics of this situation to him. Billions and billions of dollars and thousands of good jobs are at stake.

  • originalone

    Interesting that DARE was created where Crack was first introduced.

  • RadRadley

    What a douchebag! I guess we can hope he gets replaced soon.

  • milonguera

    Maybe his perception that DARE worked has something to do with money and not so much on how effective it was in curtailing drug use.

  • MaryB

    Why can’t this man just educate himself in the right way? Why can’t he just actually do this? He is stuck and won’t get his head out of the tunnel his head is in. Not only does he sound ignorant, he is passing information on that is wrong. He wants to once again, turn back time and let people suffer that are getting much needed help. Cannabis should be covered by insurance. That is the next step. As long as there are assholes like Sessions in office this will NEVER happen.

  • Robert Gerus

    Why is he stuck in the 60’s because of DARE what a joke. An old man with old ideas on how to fuck america one family at a time, that what I see this little stink of a man. Jeffrey Sessions is like an russian soldier thinking the iron curtain is still up.

  • peggy oconnor

    This is by far one of more ignorant, stupid, uneducated people in a position of power. He should be removed as his backward thinking will not change. We need an Attorney General that is educated, knowledgeable, and in touch with the people he is suppose to protect.
    Marijuana is not the problem. The disease of addiction is the problem.
    We need rehab, and goid follow up care for these folks. Not jail.
    We also need to realize that now chronic pain patients are suffering from being lumped in with those who have the disease.
    Sorry but this is so wrong, and so uninformed. Government and insurance companies have no business playing doctor. Especially to people they do not know, do mot treat, nor trained to treat. Enforced medical negligence by the doctors towards their patients is reaching epidemic proportions. Death rates will go up, not only from improper treatment of addiction, but also from the chronic pain patients as well.
    The drug war is a disaster. It made jails a privatized concern, costing more money. No rehab there, or if there, no follow through. Addiction is a disease, not a criminal act, although it causes some to suffer long incarnation for a disease.
    Someone in power needs to wake up an treat diseases with proper treatments that work. Punishment does not. Allow the pain patient’s doctors who are additionally trained in their area to treat their patients appropriately.
    The Attorney General’s offices are not medical, but legal. Get out of the dark ages an walk into the light of knowlegde and up to date, current therapies. Your not our doctors, an we are not your patients. Your lack of understanding hurts everyone.
    Peggy

  • realpatriot2

    The thought of Sessions taking over my Doctor’s job terrifies me. I have chronic pain and seizures a lot less when I add cannabis to my other medications. Where is his MD degree? Can I give him my added seizures and pain that I would be forced to have without the medical marijuana I use daily? Why does Dump-trump appoint people who want to rip apart what they are supposed to protect. Does he think we won’t notice his illegal activities if he keeps us worrying about what his minions are doing or want to do to us?

  • RevJack

    He really does have the face of a childish tyrant and I can’t stand to look at it.

    • Gretchen Hall

      LOL

    • justadbeer

      LOL…Joffrey “Baratheon” Sessions

  • Regina

    Propaganda, old and out-dated just like him..for every Evil act he will get the consequences. .oh Baby! when he does get it; it will be to late…70 years to late.
    Repeating the same old crap is getting boring..we do not live in or with the leave it to beaver family! Go after what your pharmaceutical doctors have you up in arms with; How do do we clean up their crap! Free our Doctors who are on the side of life and we appreciate them for the healing of our Nation…does that sound familiar?
    Most of us who use cannabis it’s in our DNA and our bodies have recepters in the brain and in the body itself. Your kind has starve us long enough of, what they deem a drug! When, it is really “food and a medicine”…period! Sessions better go back and read his baptist bible from the beginning all over again..you missed it! Or did his preacher by-pass it intentionally; as they usually do..when they don’t know,
    Gen 1:11 that knowledge is power! READ IT!!! Learn from it! When you let someone else read it for you…like you’re a 3 yrs old child…please!…that’s why, we are All in this galactic mess together! It’s all happening because of stupidity, ignorance, and lack of faith in the word of God..thats Why people look at you as completely stupid!
    All this time they have denied us our medicine and it is time for You and them to be accountable for Crime against Humanity…Jeff Session is the #1-contender!
    Watch out God’s birds don’t poop on you if think you will win the war on Cannabis. It is God’s gift to men,women and children too! We serve a God that give life and give it more abundantly! He loves you Jeff Sessions..but you turned your back on him and stuck your head in the sand with the rest of your kind.
    Wake up America!!!

  • Steven L. Brock IV

    The war on drugs never did work,and never will we r truly living in end times,It’s a cover for something more sinister,

  • Steven L. Brock IV

    If Sessions knew anything, he would not know that he knew anything.

  • Lee Ingalls

    He is paid off by big pharma and the private prison system. These beings are the ones going after a vegetable which is a medicine (cannibus).

    The truth is, that so many children who suffer seizures have been helped and people with many diseases are having a chance at life again.

    This little man has sold his soul or is a complete idiot. Either way he needs to be fired. He represents the NWO (1984) mentality or has dementia.

    Everyone needs to write to our President and get him to legalize this vegetable, which also makes great ropes and canvas etc. Our First President grew Hemp which is the cousin of cannibus. Our Declaration of Independence and perhaps our constitution has been written on hemp.

    Is Sessions being paid off by big pharma and the private prison system? These evil miscreations are the ones going after a vegetable which is a medicine.

    Everyone needs to write to our President and get him to legalize this vegetable (cannibus) which also makes great ropes rope and canvas etc.

    Could he be a lizard? The Reptilians want to keep us enslaved and in fear. His speeches leave much to be desired and sound very Cabal.

    I use to pull for him and think he was like Arne Johnson on “Rowan and Martin’s Laugh In” but this little man isn’t funny nor appreciated for his Nazi mentality.

    My new timeline doesn’t have people with his attitude period.

    We are Love. When we all live from our Hearts with unconditional love for each other, then we will truly find peace and joy in this world.

    More crime is caused from prohibition than anything else. These Nazi tactics are to help keep the jobs of the SS in power. Stop the madness already.

    Stop prohibition!!! Here is where we can save the American tax payers money to be used for real education, for programs for our elderly, for the homeless, for our Vets. Shut down these evil agencies who play God over us.

    We don’t want nor need big Government.
    Govern = control
    Ment = the mind
    Need I say more?

    Once NESARA is implemented, this staged game will be over and we can say good riddance to toxic attitudes.

    Think Love, Be Love but take no crap. A mass lawsuit may be what brings that blowfish and the evil agencies down to level ground.

    Sessions will be doing harm to so many children who have seen their lives improve from multiple seizures per day to none and Parkinson’s people who are able to have a chance at life again. So taking away the vegetable that is truly healing them, is doing harm and places many lives in danger.

    Cannabis also prevents the biggest money maker for Big Pharma = Cancer which is a Industry. They don’t want the cure to be legal. These are Draconian Satutes they created, which were designed to enslaved us all. Hey, I never signed a contract to have them rule over my body or life. Did you?

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d0a3e0b6cf8979fdfbb59c144e35cecadbfb7cc0c5f8658bdbc6e6bf8efdb0ce.jpg

    Could Sessions be a lizard? Or do the Cabal have something over his head?

    We are soverign unto GOD on high and no man nor beast should be allowed to control what we eat, drink, or smoke or prevent us from Assending.

    We are LOVE and from the same Creator. I will forgive them but only after this Evil Game is done. I send prayers that he Awakens from his stupidity and stop acting like a Cabal minion.

    Once NESARA is implemented, this staged game will be over and I say good riddance to toxic attitudes.

    Think Love, Be Love but take no crap. A mass lawsuit may be what brings that blowfish and his kind to level ground.

    He would be doing harm to so many children who have seen their lives improve from multiple seisures per day to none and Parkinson’s people who are able to have a life again.

    Cannabis also prevents the biggest money maker for Big Pharma = Cancer is a Industry that brings on Trillions each year. Everyone makes out except the victims.

    We all are very aware of the plus and know the only negative is the Nazi mentality to suppress our freedom and try to cash in on our suffering. How sad and how Evil.

    Pray for this wicked little man to wake up or get fired.

    Nameste

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/d0a3e0b6cf8979fdfbb59c144e35cecadbfb7cc0c5f8658bdbc6e6bf8efdb0ce.jpg

  • Robert Gerus

    If the new laws are reversed. It’s not a secret that Sessions is heavily invested in the private prison system and in Big Pharma stocks in the U.S. and with the new laws in effect, he stands to lose considerably if the Cannabis industry and U.S. voters are allowed to continue its trend towards legalization at the federal level. According to many figures, 40% of the U.S. prison population in the U.S., is in prison for Cannabis related convictions, based on those same old and outdated draconian laws. It is the direct reason prisons nation wide are over populated… this Story is from another reader I didn’t know he Sessions is so obsessed with marijuana that he would stoop so low as the throw his own mother in prison for smoking marijuana he is the gestapo of modern america, what a little rat of a mouse.

  • Jonathan Ferrari Ervin

    Bravo sir!