When asked during a CNN interview with Christiane Amanpour last night whether she used drugs, Hillary Clinton was admirably firm. Had she done marijuana? “Absolutely not,” she replied. “I didn't do it when I was young, I'm not going to start now.” She is, however, more wavering when it comes to exposing other people’s children to the impact of drug use.
While she opposed marijuana decriminalization during her first presidential run in 2007, by 2014, following the enabling by the Obama administration of legal, recreational marijuana in Colorado and Washington, candidate Clinton is now more receptive to a drug experience.
Having become a fan of federalism (at least for this issue), Hillary stated, "On recreational (marijuana), states are the laboratories of democracy. We have at least two states that are experimenting with that right now. I want to wait and see what the evidence is.” Even more curiously (for a Wellesley College student of the sixties), Hillary suggested that “Perhaps there are younger people here who could help me understand this and answer it.”
This stance raises two questions. First, what is it that young Hillary Clinton knew, correctly, about the dangers of drugs that gave her a strong foundation to abstain? And second, how did she lose her way, and not want that same protection for the youth of Colorado and Washington?
If she seriously believes that there is some important medical and societal “experiment” going on with legal dope, she has been badly advised. The results are already coming in. Youth marijuana use is rampant in those states and damage, at burn centers, at emergency departments, at school disciplinary hearings, and at treatment centers is mounting rapidly. Public safety has been compromised, potency of the intoxicant THC is soaring, increasing numbers of 12 year olds have been documented as “daily users,” edible THC candies are advertised in newspapers, and the black market thrives.
Further, as the director of the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area, Tom Gorman, just wrote, “By legalizing marijuana in Colorado, we have become the black market for about 40 other states that we can document. So instead of eliminating it, we have become it. We are also the black market for those under twenty-one.”
Some laboratory of democracy. Some experiment.
John P. Walters is chief operating officer of the Hudson Institute, and David Murray is senior fellow in the Hudson Center for substance abuse policy research