Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) invoked Lady Gaga in challenging the administration’s view on pot legalization at a Wednesday Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Sessions brought up President Obama’s comments to The New Yorker in which he detailed his thoughts on marijuana. “I view it as a bad habit and vice, not very different from the cigarettes I smoked as a young person. I don’t think it’s more dangerous than alcohol,” Obama said. The president added that pot is less dangerous than alcohol “in terms of its impact on the individual consumer.”
“It’s just difficult to me to conceive how the president of the United States could make such a statement as that,” Sessions said to the hearing’s sole witness, Attorney General Eric Holder.
“I have not read the article, but as I have understood what the president has said in his totality was that he — he thought that the use of marijuana by young people was not a good thing,” Holder said. When asked for his personal opinion, he replied, “I think that any drug used in an inappropriate way can be harmful.”
“Isn’t it a fact that if the laws are relaxed with regard to adults, it makes this drug even more available to minors?” Sessions asked.
“Well, I’m not sure that that’s true,” Holder responded. “And I say that only because, you know, the alcohol — people cannot buy alcohol I guess now until you’re age 18 — or age 21. But young people find ways to find alcohol because adults can have access to it. I’m not sure that we will see the same thing here, given what we have said with regard to law enforcement priorities.” (The legal age to purchase alcohol — 21 — is the same across the U.S., though some states have lower consumption ages.)
Sessions read Holder excerpts from medical studies regarding the cognitive impairment caused by marijuana and its amplified effects on children.
“That is exactly why one of our eight enforcement priorities is the prevention of marijuana to minors,” the attorney general said.
“Well, Lady Gaga said she’s addicted to it, and it is not harmless. She’s been addicted to it. Patrick Kennedy — former Congressman Kennedy said the president is wrong on this subject,” Sessions said. “I just think it’s a huge issue. I hope that you will talk with the president — you’re close to him — and begin to push back — pull back from this position that I think is going to be adverse to the health of America.”
Lady Gaga said last year that she was smoking as many as 20 joints a day as “a form of self-medication” after breaking her hip.