On Tuesday, the U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control held a hearing alleging the Department of Justice was not adequately involved in states that have legalized recreational marijuana, such as Colorado. The charge is not exactly true, as the federal government continues to crack down in some cases in states where weed is legal.

According to Reason, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions, who has endorsed Donald Trump for president, said the following during the hearing in context of messaging on marijuana (emphasis added):

It was the prevention movement that really was so positive, and it led to this decline. The creating of knowledge that this drug is dangerous, it cannot be played with, it is not funny, it’s not something to laugh about, and trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.

“Good people don’t smoke marijuana.”

Yes, he said that.

Related: Will veterans make a move for marijuana?

Such irresponsible rhetoric by Sessions flies in the face of both science and decency. The American Society of Addiction Medicine, which specializes in treating drug addiction, points out that drug addiction is not a character flaw. They remind us it is a medical condition that should be treated as such.

While marijuana addiction is real, it is rare in most users and is often triggered by other factors, such as stress and mental illness. And though marijuana can have negative side effects, they are less severe than alcohol abuse.

Almost half of all Americans have used marijuana at some point in their lives. Does this make a very large section of the American population “bad people”?

It’s time to stop looking at marijuana and other drug use as a character flaw. We should treat it as a health and personal freedom issue. Most people who use marijuana don’t abuse it; therefore, it should not be treated the same as heroin and LSD.

Related: Group gives out free pot to veterans to help ease their pain

This senator said something profoundly stupid about marijuana AP Photo/Susan Walsh
Kevin Boyd About the author:
Kevin Boyd is a general correspondent for The Hayride and an associate policy analyst at the R Street Institute. His work has been featured at IJ Review, The National Interest, Real Clear Policy, and the Washington Examiner. You can follow him on Twitter @kevinboyd1984
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