Green Party candidate Jill Stein has a great number of courageous stands on different issues. I’ve written in support of her here at Irregular Times quite often over the last year.
Tonight, however, I’m not going to praise Dr. Stein. I’m going to point out where she’s wrong.
It has to do with marijuana.
Tonight, during the four-candidate presidential debate moderated by Larry King, Jill Stein spoke at length about the benefits that would come from legalizing marijuana. There are reasonable arguments to be made for legalization, and Stein made some of them.
Jill Stein also made a quite unreasonable argument in favor of marijuana legalization. She declared that concerns about the health effects of marijuana are completely unfounded, saying of the practice of smoking marijuana, “It’s not dangerous at all!”
Stein staked her professional reputation on this argument, saying that she knew, because she is a methere is dical doctor, that there are no health dangers that result from smoking marijuana.
It’s true that some of the claims of health risks associated with marijuana smoking are overblown. However, it’s also true that there is evidence that people put their health at risk when they smoke marijuana, increasing their risk for testicular cancer and lasting cognitive impairment.
As a physician, Dr. Stein ought to know better than to proclaim that marijuana is not dangerous at all. The data on the health risks of marijuana is easy to find. As a political leader, she has the responsibility to base her policies on scientific research. Unfortunately, on the issue of marijuana legalization, Jill Stein seems more interested in whipping up enthusiasm among marijuana enthusiasts as a niche vote in this year’s election.
Life is full of dangers. Most of them we can manage intelligently. There are dangers associated with walking down the sidewalk, or drinking a cup of coffee, or getting in a car.
It’s unwise for political leaders to exaggerate dangers, but it’s also unwise to minimize dangers, or pretend that they don’t exist. Acknowledging the real dangers of marijuana use is a necessary part of incorporating the reality that people smoke marijuana into our society. Last night, Jill Stein showed that she isn’t ready to work with this aspect of reality.
She still has my vote, but she’s lost some of my respect.