Carly Fiorina On Marijuana: ‘The Pot Today Is Very Different’

“Fiorina speaks with a rare mixture of authority and humility, along with an ample dose of grace, ” is what Vanity Fair wrote with regard to Carly Fiorina’s performance on Wednesday night at the CNN Republican debate. The Inquisitr has reported that Fiorina’s statements with regard to Planned Parenthood weren’t honest, noting that it isn’t clear if Fiorina “deliberately lied” or she had, perhaps, viewed video not available to the public.

Later in the evening, Ms. Fioria opened up about the death of her stepdaughter, Lori, from abusing alcohol and prescription pills and bulimia in 2009 and took a strong stance on drugs.

“So, 40 years ago, I smoked marijuana, and I admit it,” is what Florida Governor Jeb Bush is reported to have stated earlier in the debate, as reported by PolitiFact. Rand Paul the senator from Kentucky expressed favoring allowing states to legalize pot, as Colorado has.

“The marijuana that kids are smoking today is not the same as the marijuana that Jeb Bush smoked 40 years ago,” Carly Fiorina later explained.

Is Fiorina’s statement about pot true? It turns out that pot does indeed contain more delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol than it did in the early 1970s. Average marijuana THC concentrations have increased from 3.4 percent in the 70s to 8.8 percent in 2008. The highest potency marijuana that has been tested by law enforcement appears to be about 26 percent and this has remained steady for about 20 years. About 21.5 percent of pot samples tested had potency greater than 9 percent in 2007, rising from about 3.2 percent in the early 90s.

Carly Fiorina appears to be correct in her assertion. Does that mean that pot is dangerous? Or is this similar to the difference in potency between beer and hard liquor?

It does appear, based on a small number of studies, that users consume less of more potent pot, similar to alcohol.

Citing a number that Fiorina’s stepdaughter is likely included in, tragically, the CDC states that 88,000 Americans died from excessive alcohol use between 2006 and 2010. The Huffington Post states that “zero” people have ever died from a pot overdose.

Mark Pletcher, a researcher with ProCon notes that marijuana has the capacity to damage lungs in the same way tobacco does, but that most marijuana users consume much less. Whether this damage includes cancer does not appear to be fully understood.

“Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns” and “mental health problems, including depression and anxiety,” are risks associated with alcohol use cited by the CDC, which would also seem to be relevant to marijuana users.

Further, the Washington Times has reported on a 19-year old man who jumped to his death from a balcony after consuming a type of edible pot. Fiorina being concerned about such stories makes perfect sense.

While it may appear that marijuana use is safer than alcohol use, there is no definitive guide. Carly Fiorina’s statement with regard to pot being “very different,” while being accurate, doesn’t speak to the risks associated with consuming any drug, or inhaling any smoke into one’s lungs. Carly Fiorina’s stance appears to suggest that marijuana has become more dangerous since the 1970s, and there is little evidence to back this up.

What Fiorina is right about is that all drugs should be taken seriously and have the capacity to cause unpleasant effects, and even death, if used in an irresponsible way. As Ms. Fiorina has lost a family member to drugs, although not marijuana, her concern for others in the nation would appear to be well-founded and -placed, as does her apparent stance that taking any sort of drug should never be taken lightly.

It is also seems apparent that Fiorina has ideas for solutions beyond jailing drug offenders and that she wishes to reduce the number of people jailed for drug related offenses.

[Carly Fiorina Photo by Justin Sullivan / Getty Images — Marijuana Photo by David McNew / Getty Images]