U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions believes that access to marijuana should be more restricted than access to guns.
That’s the response he gave to a Justice Department intern who pressed him on the Trump administration’s handling of the two issues.
“Statistically guns kill significantly more people than marijuana does,” the intern said during a Q & A session with the attorney general. “You support pretty harsh policies for marijuana and pretty lax gun control laws.”
“That’s a apples and oranges question,” Sessions responded. “The Second Amendment — you’re aware of that — guarantees the right of people to keep and bear arms. And I intend to defend that Second Amendment. It’s as valid as the First Amendment. That’s my basic philosophical view about it.”
Sessions, a longtime vocal legalization opponent, then argued that cannabis is more dangerous than many people think.
“There’s this view that marijuana is harmless and it does no damage,” he said. “Marijuana is not a healthy substance, in my opinion. Do you believe that?” he volleyed back at the intern.
“I don’t,” she said.
The attorney general then seemed to mock the intern, calling her “Dr. Whatever Your Name Is.”
“I don’t think America is going to be a better place if marijuana is sold in every corner grocery store,” he said, alleging that legalization is causing problems in Colorado.
“People didn’t seem to mind really hammering tobacco, which is a long-term health problem for people,” he said, “but I think likewise we should be talking about some of the dangers of marijuana as we go forward.”
The exchange comes about 1:45 into the video below:
ABC News obtained the video of the Q & A session, which took place in June, through a Freedom of Information Act request.
Its release comes as the Justice Department’s overall position on marijuana policy remains uncertain. Sessions has in recent weeks sent mixed signals about his plans for federal marijuana enforcement under the Trump administration.
Last month, he testified before Congress that an Obama-era Justice Department memo that generally allows states to implement their own marijuana laws without interference remains in effect. But last week he told reporters at a briefing that his department is actively conducting talks about potential changes to the policy.
Photo courtesy of Gage Skidmore.