by Josh Jardine
This will surprise absolutely no one, but I don’t have great deal of love or respect for the Drug Enforcement Agency. Never have, and in all likelihood, never will. On Tuesday, the acting head of the DEA (and not sparkly vampire) Robert Patterson was testifying at a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the topic of “Challenges and Solutions in the Opioid Abuse Crisis.” What followed was best described as an “old-fashioned Alabama ass-whuppin'” by some of the elected representatives, who seriously could not believe the words tumbling from Patterson’s stupid mouth.
As summarized by Marijuana Movement, it began with Tennessee Democratic representative Steve Cohen asking why cannabis is still a Schedule I drug, on par with such drugs as heroin. Patterson responded, with a straight face, “The reason why it remains in Schedule I is the science.”
Cohen managed to refrain from doing a spit take, instead replying, “The science? I’m happy to hear that you believe in science, that’s refreshing.” Cohen then asked Patterson for his personal feelings on re-or de-scheduling cannabis from its Schedule I status, which led to Patterson to complain that the widespread concern surrounding arrests for cannabis, and how they impact communities of color, is essentially baseless, and doesn’t have anything to do with prohibitionist policies. He stated that he thought the country was “going down a bad path concerning marijuana,” and concluded, “At what point did we determine that revenue was more important than our kids?” (You mean the same cannabis tax revenue that’s currently being used to help fund our schools and public safety programs? That revenue?)
Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Georgia) drew forth the most outrageous statement from Patterson when he asked out of the 64,000 drug-related overdose deaths in 2016, how many were opioid-related. (44,000.) When he asked about cannabis-related overdose deaths, Patterson responded that while there had not been any “official” deaths of that kind recorded in 2016, he nevertheless was “aware of a few deaths from marijuana.”
“You are aware of a few deaths from marijuana?” Johnson asked. At that point, Patterson said that he didn’t have materials in front of him to reference, but that he believed these deaths were caused by “adulterated” cannabis.
If you mix cyanide into orange juice, it will kill you. This part is tricky, so try and keep up—is the orange juice fatal, or is it the cyanide?
It pretty much went off the rails when Patterson was later questioned about numerous studies showing the medical benefits of cannabis to treat medical conditions, including those where opioids are frequently prescribed, or studies showing that states with regulated cannabis programs had a decrease in opioid prescriptions. Patterson hadn’t read any of them, wasn’t familiar with them, nor could he site any studies showing that cannabis led to other illicit dangerous drug use.
The DEA’s Robert Patterson is the worst type of mouth breathing moron—one that embraces his willful ignorance, and makes no effort to expand his small-minded and narrow worldview. Which is morally vile when you consider that by just reading a few fucking studies, he could perhaps help enact policies that could literally save tens of thousands of lives.