Chelsea Clinton spoke about marijuana to a group of college students at Youngstown State University in Ohio Saturday, and in doing so, unleashed a flurry of gleeful headlines:
You’d be forgiven for thinking that Chelsea Clinton said that marijuana can kill! But the media are a little too eager to catch the daughter of the democratic presidential nominee in a fear-mongering soundbite.
Chelsea did defend her mother’s marijuana policy, which favors of maintaining the unjustified status quo of federal marijuana prohibition—but she did not exactly say that “marijuana can kill.”
In reality, a student asked her about her mother’s policy on marijuana rescheduling. (It currently remains in Schedule 1, the most restrictive level). Here’s what Chelsea actually said:
““Anecdotally we have lots of evidence in…epilepsy but also in autism, in stimulating appetite for people who are on intensive chemotherapy regimens, for people who have non-epilepsy seizure disorders and challenges. But 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.”
Schedule 1 defines a substance as having “no medical benefit.” So Chelsea, by pointing out marijuana’s medical benefits, clearly implies that it should not be in Schedule 1. Her mother has said that she will reschedule marijuana to Schedule II if elected president.
It is true that Chelsea’s public sharing of flimsy “anecdotal” evidence of marijuana-related deaths, based on some coroners’ say-sos and “beliefs,” was irresponsible. No drug is entirely safe and mixing drugs is never advisable. But politicians and their proxies should rely on hard evidence when they talk about drugs (although few of them do). And we should note that marijuana alone has never been reliably implicated in a single overdose death, as even the DEA admits.
But on the other hand, our click-hungry media’s misleading oversimplification of Chelsea’s words as “marijuana kills” is hardly an example of the kind of responsibility they claim to champion.