Absurdity, balderdash, and fuckery in general unfolded on the often biased cable news circuit this week. Don’t joke about or mention weed because of the doubling of “overdose deaths,” former White House advisor Kellyanne Conway said in so many words on Fox News Monday.
Democratic Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman faces off against Republican celebrity doctor Mehmet Oz in Pennsylvania’s hot-button U.S. Senate race this fall. Fetterman, from the beginning, has been outspoken about his pro-marijuana stance.
Dr. Oz, on the other hand, is more difficult to tell, both slamming adult-use legalization in Pennsylvania and admitting that marijuana is safer than some prescription drugs. The current stance doesn’t exactly align with previous episodes on The Dr. Oz Show, when he was called a medical marijuana “advocate” a few years ago. Dr. Oz now falsely says that legalization leads to higher unemployment rates.
So Fox News tapped Conway for commentary on the race on September 26, and Conway did not disappoint her base.
“He put the marijuana flag up. He thought that was funny. He’s trolling his opponent. He thinks that’s funny,” Conway said of Fetterman’s recent comments. “Here’s what’s not funny: that there’s been a doubling of overdose deaths in Pennsylvania while he’s been in office from 2015 to 2021. Fentanyl is rankling every corner of this state.”
What fentanyl has to do with marijuana is anyone’s best guess. The conflation of marijuana with overdoses has been debunked by several government agencies.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) admits there has never been a fatal overdose recorded from cannabis alone. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also says an overdose from cannabis is “unlikely.”
Fentanyl is a completely different story. In 2021, 107,622 total drug overdoses were recorded, and the majority, or 66% of those deaths, are related to synthetic opioids like fentanyl.
In Pennsylvania specifically, troubled areas are riddled with people struggling with opioid addiction, which was documented in the Kensington neighborhood of Philadelphia last month. But Salon reports that the majority of central Philadelphia is gentrified and the drug crisis is better off than it has been in the past. Focusing only on the state’s troubled areas doesn’t provide an accurate picture.
Unsurprisingly, Conway was brutally dragged both on social media and in the media, Newsweek reports. Yahoo! News called Conway’s comments a “brazen marijuana lie,” gaining over 3,000 shares, while the U.K.-based Independent wrote that she was “mocked for blaming overdose deaths on marijuana.” HuffPost and AOL News reported that she was “gaslighting everyone.”
Former GOP strategist Steve Schmidt, who left the Republican party and renounced his membership, tweeted on Tuesday, “I thought John Fetterman put it up to protest the abject stupidity of the US Govt spending $50 billion in taxpayer money on a marijuana crusade that is riddled with hypocrisy. Who gets locked up? Black people. Marijuana and Fentanyl have as much to do with each other as Coors.”
“It’s all nonsense,” Schmidt continued. “Cannabis is legal in many states and has never killed anyone. [Kellyanne Conway] has less credibility than Trump and may be the only American who stands as a true peer of his when it comes to lying. She sold out America for fame and power. Not credible.”
Political commentator Cheri Jacobus actually did the math and figured that if you multiply zero times two, the number is still zero: “If marijuana deaths were doubled, the number would still be zero, you gaslighting cartoon.”
Dr. Jorge Caballero also did the math, but in line graph form, saying that a model of marijuana overdoses would look like a completely level line of zero.
“If you look really closely you can almost see the imaginary line of marijuana overdose deaths on this chart of U.S. government data from the last 22 years,” Caballero tweeted.
Currently, Dr. Oz trails Fetterman in the Pennsylvania race, but polling numbers remain relatively close.