Monthly Archives: February 2017

Attorney General Sessions wants to know the science on marijuana and opioids. Here it is.

By Christopher Ingraham

Speaking this morning before the National Association of Attorneys General, U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions expressed doubt that marijuana could help mitigate the opioid abuse epidemic.

“I see a line in The Washington Post today [link added] that I remember from the ’80s,” Sessions said. “‘Marijuana is a cure for opiate abuse.’ Give me a break. This is the kind of argument that’s been made out there to just — almost a desperate attempt to defend the harmlessness of marijuana or even its benefits. I doubt that’s true. Maybe science will prove I’m wrong.”

The stakes are pretty high here. After all, opioids killed 33,000 people in 2015, up from around 8,000 in 1999. As the head of the Department of Justice, Attorney General Sessions oversees the Drug Enforcement Administration, which just last year reaffirmed its belief that marijuana has no medical value and hence should remain illegal (which makes it substantially more difficult for researchers to conduct studies).

Here’s a run-down of where the evidence on marijuana and opiates stands.

Marijuana is great at treating chronic pain.

This is the big finding, and the one from which all the others spring. Surveying the entire known universe of studies about the medical efficacies of cannabis, the National Academies of Science, Medicine and Engineering found “strong evidence” showing marijuana is effective at dealing with chronic pain in adults, relative to a placebo. The National Academies study is the most thorough review of the literature on marijuana to date, conducted by some of the nation’s leading substance use researchers.

Across numerous trials and experiments, the report found, people treated for pain with marijuana were “<a target="_self" …read more

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Bernie Sanders takes another swing at big pharma with bill to allow drug imports

By Carolyn Y. Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders delivers a speech during J Streets 2017 National Conference at the Washington Convention Center. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Opening a new front in the war against big pharma, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and a slew of Democratic colleagues introduced a bill Tuesday to allow commercial importation of drugs from Canada.

The appeal is obvious; through cheap imported drugs, the U.S. would be able to take advantage of the government levers and regulation that other countries have used to bring down pharmaceutical prices. It’s a far more politically palatable way to attack the problem of soaring drug prices than opening up an even more contentious fight over whether the U.S. government should meddle directly in pricing — and it has had wide popular and bipartisan support, including from Hillary Clinton and President Trump during the presidential campaign.

A drug importation amendment was previously advanced during the budget resolution vote in the Senate in January. It was rejected, with 13 Democrats voting against the measure. Four of those who voted against the amendment signed on as co-sponsors of the bill.

In an afternoon press conference unveiling the bill, Democratic and independent lawmakers threw down the gauntlet, calling on President Trump — who has repeatedly said that he will do something to reign in rising drug prices — to support their effort.

“I want to finally say about our President, who has said a lot of talk about health care, and has recently confessed how ‘complicated’ he thinks it is. He has made promises to the American people about prescription drug prices; he has made promises to the American people, and now it’s time for him to put up or shut up,” said Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), who joined as a co-sponsor after earlier voting against drug importation …read more

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A textbook case of when to take Trump seriously but not literally

By Daniel W. Drezner The hard-working staff here at Spoiler Alerts has been pretty straightforward about its disdain for President Trump’s political style, foreign policy, foreign economic policy, overall management of the executive branch and staff quality. One can use a very broad brush to describe this administration’s fecklessness, incompetence and malevolence. That said, there are times when a broad […] …read more

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Trump’s budget plan depends on wholly unrealistic cuts to the rest of government

By Jared Bernstein Allow me to share with you a very important bit of context to consider in light of President Trump’s speech to the joint session of Congress tonight. He’s expected to talk about his first budget, and the White House has been releasing talking points about the president’s priorities, which include: * Making “the American Dream […] …read more

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