Donald Trump largely ignored the opioid crisis in his State of the Union address, mentioning it only once. As the president put it, if Congress adopts the White House’s far-right immigration agenda, it will “support our response to the terrible crisis of opioid and drug addiction.”
In other words, the key to addressing the crisis, according to Trump, is through immigration policy.
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, speaking at a Heritage Foundation event last night, fielded a question about opioids, and while he steered clear of the president’s position, Sessions tried to make a curious connection of his own. After mentioning the importance of reducing opioid prescriptions, the attorney general added:
“Sometimes, you just need to take two Bufferins or something and go to bed…. These pills become so addictive. The [Drug Enforcement Agency] said a huge percentage of the heroin addictions start with prescriptions. That may be an exaggerated number – they had it as high as 80 percent – we think a lot of this is starting with marijuana or other drugs, too.”
I guess my first question is, “What do you mean, ‘we’?”
Sessions’ fierce opposition to marijuana isn’t exactly a secret; it’s long been one of his top policy priorities. That said, if he and/or the Justice Department has evidence that suggests “a lot of” the opioid epidemic is “starting with marijuana,” Sessions should share that data with the rest of us. I’m skeptical it exists.
As for recommending people “take two Bufferins or something and go to bed,” ideally the nation’s top law enforcement officer would know better than to make such a comment.
The White House’s response to the opioid crisis – led by pollster Kellyanne Conway’s ad-hoc “cabinet” – is a mess. Jeff Sessions’ response isn’t much better.