With less than 40 days to Election Day, Hillary Clinton is clinging to a razor-thin lead against Donald Trump for Leader of the Free World. The race has tightened in the past few weeks, with some polls actually showing Trump ahead. Clinton appears to have little room for error, so even the slightest faux pas could cost her votes.
Which is why her daughter Chelsea’s comment over the weekend that marijuana can kill you if used in combination with other substances was not only incorrect, but also an unforced political blunder.
Here is her original statement from the town hall at Youngstown State University:
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.
The blowback from marijuana advocates was heard across the country.
Ethan Nadelmann, executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance and one of the top authorities on marijuana policy in the nation had this to say:
There’s zero evidence anywhere that using marijuana in combination with other drugs can be fatal. One of the things that make marijuana such a safe drug to use is that if you combine it with anything, it’s not fatal.”
On Wednesday, Chelsea’s handlers walked back the mistake saying:
While discussing her and her mother’s support for rescheduling marijuana to allow for further study of both its medical benefits and possible interactions with other medications, Chelsea misspoke about marijuana’s interaction with other drugs contributing to specific deaths.
The swift mea culpa was issued because the Clinton camp understands the importance of the marijuana legalization issue in this year’s election — especially among young voters.
Polls clearly demonstrate that voters under the age of 35 overwhelmingly support marijuana legalization. If Clinton can win over this key demographic, her path to the White House appears wide open. Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a confirmed marijuana consumer and advocate of legalization, has used this position as a way to attract the millennial voters. (Some recent blunders, meanwhile, could cause voters to wonder if Johnson was perhaps high at the time.)
- Focus federal enforcement resources on violent crime, not simple marijuana possession. Marijuana arrests, including for simple possession, account for a huge number of drug arrests. Further, significant racial disparities exist in marijuana enforcement, with black men significantly more likely to be arrested for marijuana possession than their white counterparts, even though usage rates are similar. Hillary believes we need an approach to marijuana that includes:
- Allowing states that have enacted marijuana laws to act as laboratories of democracy, as long as they adhere to certain federal priorities such as not selling to minors, preventing intoxicated driving, and keeping organized crime out of the industry.
- Rescheduling marijuana from a Schedule I to a Schedule II substance. Hillary supports medical marijuana and would reschedule marijuana to advance research into its health benefits.
Trump’s position on cannabis? It is unclear. As with many other issues, he has come out on both sides of the debate. Currently, he has stated that it is up to individual states to decide the issue for themselves. But his campaign is crawling with reefer madness acolytes: running mate Mike Pence, former New York mayor Rudy Giuliani, and New Jersey governor Chris Christie are all outspoken drug warriors.