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Dr. Oz Defends Medical Cannabis on ‘Fox & Friends’

Mehmet Oz, more commonly known as Dr. Oz, the cardiothoracic surgeon and television personality, has made a career out of controversial opinions on all matters related to health, medicine, weight, and pseudoscience. He has also been named one of the most influential people of the 21st century, and a “trusted voice in daytime television.”

Earlier this week, Dr. Oz stopped by Fox & Friends to converse with hosts Steve Doocy, Brian Kilmeade, and Ainsley Earhardt. The topic of the segment was Dr. Oz’s recent interview with Ivanka Trump, but he quickly pivoted to a subject that has not been well received in the past by the Fox & Friends crew: medical marijuana.

Kilmeade mentioned the opioid epidemic and Dr. Oz took the opportunity to segue. “The real story is the hypocrisy around medical marijuana,” he explained.

“People think it’s a gateway drug to narcotics. It may be the exit drug to get us out of the narcotic epidemic, but we’re not allowed to study it because it’s a Schedule I drug, and I personally believe that it could help,” Dr. Oz said.

The Fox & Friends crew has not been so warm in the past to the concept of cannabis, medicinal or otherwise. In a recent segment, Kathy Barnette compared the trend of using cannabis rather than alcohol as “replacing an M16 rifle with a machete.”

“They’re both very dangerous,” she said. In fact, cannabis is 114 times less toxic than alcohol and there are no recorded cannabis overdose deaths, but alcohol accounts for approximately 88,000 deaths annually.

A Fox & Friends clip from 2014 criticized the federal government for not banning EBT recipients from using their benefit cards to purchase cannabis. “It does insult the taxpayer that the federal government is actually taking their hard-earned dollars to provide entertainment and recreationally used marijuana,” said Rep. Libby Szabo (R-CO). Tucker Carlson called it a “shocking waste and abuse of public funds,” and commented on the lack of concern from lawmakers about the issue.

In reality, a vast majority of cannabis dispensaries don’t accept any form of credit card, let alone an EBT card. There may not be a law against using government assistance to purchase marijuana, but the reality is not only unlikely, it’s nearly logistically impossible.

Dr. Oz is not without his own dubious credibility. He’s been accused of promoting controversial treatments and pseudoscience, including psychics and spiritual mediums, miracle appetite suppressants, Reiki energy healing, and magic weight-loss cures. However, he is a highly influential figure among mainstream viewers, and as a “trusted voice,” his mindset has the potential to influence many minds on the benefits of cannabis, not least of all as a solution to the opioid crisis.

Will Dr. Oz’s insight help usher the Fox & Friends (and, through them, President Trump) into a new line of thinking on cannabis?

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Lisa Rough

Lisa is a former associate editor at Leafly, where she specialized in legislative cannabis policy and industry topics.

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