Attorney General Sessions’ Letter to Congress Sends Mixed Messages on Medical Cannabis

Washington, District of Columbia, UNITED STATES

Washington, June 14, 2017 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- In a May 1st letter to members of Congress, Attorney General Jeff Sessions urged lawmakers to reject the continuation of the Rohrabacher-Farr amendment which prevents the Justice Department from interfering in state medical cannabis laws because he believes medical cannabis contributes to opioid abuse. However, recent studies do not support Sessions’ assertions that medical cannabis is contributing to the opioid epidemic, in fact, studies show the opposite.

“Data quoted in the Attorney General’s letter demonstrates little evidence to suggest that medical cannabis legalization has contributed to either a drug abuse epidemic, nor to the surge in criminal violence in the U.S. In fact, mounting evidence shows that medical cannabis has been effective in treating chronic pain – the biggest driver of opioid drug overuse – and in lowering prescription drug use in medical cannabis states. Based on recent academic studies, the Justice Department may find that medical cannabis could actually be an ally in the fight against the U.S. opioid epidemic, which has now become the greatest public health crisis in our generation,” said New Frontier Data CEO Giadha Aguirre De Carcer.

New Frontier Data does not take a position on the merits of cannabis legalization. Rather, our mission and mandate is to inform cannabis-related policy and business decisions through rigorous, issue-neutral and comprehensive analysis of the legal cannabis industry. To better understand the potential impact of increased federal enforcement, it is important to put the medical cannabis industry into factual context: 

  • Currently 30 states plus the District of Columbia permit medical cannabis use.
  • In 2016 alone, New Frontier Data estimates that medical cannabis sales totaled $4.7 billion, and forecast sales to almost triple to $13.2 billion by 2025.
  • There are currently over 1.8 million patients in the U.S., and this does not include newly legal mega-states such as Florida, Ohio and Pennsylvania, which will add nearly 500,000 additional patients by 2020.

In Colorado alone, there are 513 licensed medical dispensaries, 770 licenses cultivation facilities, and 251 infused product manufacturers, reflecting the significant economic activity generated by legal medical cannabis.

The drug epidemic is specifically being fueled by opioid abuse, which now kills 91 Americans every day according to the CDC. However, research suggests that medical cannabis legalization results in less prescription drug use, not more. For example, a 2016 study by the University of Georgia found a significant reduction in Medicare Part D prescriptions (the Medicare prescription drug benefit that subsidizes prescription drug costs) in states with legalized medical cannabis, including an 11% reduction in pain-related prescriptions. Additionally, a 2014 study by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that medical cannabis states saw a nearly 25% decline in accidental opioid deaths, compared to states where medical cannabis was illegal.

About New Frontier Data:
New Frontier Data is an independent, technology-driven analytics company specializing in the cannabis industry. We offer vetted data, actionable business intelligence and risk management solutions for investors, operators and policymakers. New Frontier’s data and reports have been cited in over 50 countries around the world to inform industry leaders. Founded in 2014, New Frontier Data is headquartered in Washington, D.C. with additional offices in Denver. For more information or media inquiries, please visit or contact Gretchen Gailey at 202-489-3821 or



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