Colorado voted to make recreational marijuana legal in 2012. A majority of Coloradans now say this decision has been good for their state’s economy, the crime rate has not spiked as opponents said it might, and use among teens remains unchanged according to studies, another fear of legalization critics.
In other words, the first experiment with full marijuana legalization in the United States has gone relatively well.
But this doesn’t mean fear-mongering doesn’t persist.
At a town hall forum in Youngstown, Ohio on Saturday, Chelsea Clinton told a crowd of students, “We also have anecdotal evidence now from Colorado where some of the people who were taking marijuana for those purposes, the coroner believes, after they died, there was drug interactions with other things they were taking.”
Marijuana might be killing people?
“There is no documented evidence that marijuana has ever contributed to the death of a single human being in the thousands of years it has been used by civilizations across the globe” responded the pro-pot High Times to Clinton’s suggestion.
There have never been any documented cases of fatal marijuana overdoses — and that includes deaths resulting from interactions between marijuana and other drugs. In fact, as ATTN: previously reported, researchers have found that, when combined with prescription drugs such as opioid-based painkillers, marijuana enhances the effects in a positive way.
“Cannabis can synergize with certain medications such as opiates to actually increase the analgesic, or pain relieving, effects of the drug,” Dr. Michele Ross, a cannabis researcher and founder of the IMPACT Network in Denver, Colorado, told ATTN: on Tuesday. “What it doesn’t seem to synergize with is the side effect of the drugs. So, for example, whereas opiates can depress your breathing, slow it down, cannabis will not enhance that.”
I could cite numerous other sources noting that, no, marijuana doesn’t kill people — period — and certainly doesn’t in the way Chelsea Clinton suggested, but will spare you.
More importantly, why would anyone say this?
It is a stupid thing to say, but not to be unnecessarily harsh on the first daughter, it simply reflects longstanding public misunderstanding and hesitance to embrace a drug that most Americans now say is less harmful than alcohol.
It was primarily a political statement.
Pot prohibition has been the norm a lot longer in modern U.S. history than legalization. Politics almost always lags behind culture, which has rapidly moved toward marijuana acceptance. Hillary Clinton has slowly moved in a more pro-marijuana direction, but only because it’s more recently become politically viable and even advantageous. Donald Trump has been all over the place on this issue. Marijuana advocacy groups have given both Clinton and Trump low scores.
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that politicians, too, lag behind the culture, Chelsea Clinton included. I wonder how many of the students in Ohio snickered at her comments.
Still, for those who believe marijuana prohibition has been as disastrous as alcohol prohibition once was, normalization and cultural acceptance of the drug is as important as legalization.
What Chelsea Clinton said isn’t rooted in reality. But even more important, propagating such misinformation isn’t helpful either — politically, culturally or morally.