Pro-Pot People Push for Palin to Speak at Event

This is a RUSH transcript from "The O'Reilly Factor," April 8, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.

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LAURA INGRAHAM, GUEST HOST: In the "Personal Story" segment tonight: This week, Sarah Palin gave a speech at the Wine and Spirits Convention in Vegas. Well, after that, the pro-pot people — it's a group called Nevadans for Sensible Marijuana Laws — began lobbying the governor to speak at one of their events. They're offering her $25,000, but there's a hitch. She also has to acknowledge that pot is a "legitimate recreational substance that should be taxed."

With us now, Steve Fox, who's the director of the state campaigns for the Marijuana Policy Project and the author of the book, "Marijuana is Safer: So Why Are We Driving People to Drink?" It is great to see you. How are you?

STEVE FOX, AUTHOR, "MARIJUANA IS SAFER": Thanks for having me.

INGRAHAM: Let's talk about this. Now, this is kind of a cute little ploy that this Nevadan pro-pot group is doing. They didn't really think Palin was going to accept, right? It was just a way to get attention.

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FOX: The truth is that we didn't expect her to accept and, you know, unfortunately, that's the way many elected officials are today. And the reason we did it is because she was out there speaking to the alcohol industry. And our point is that marijuana is simply a less harmful recreational substance than alcohol, and it's incredibly irrational to punish adults who choose to use marijuana instead of alcohol.

INGRAHAM: Her speaking fee is about $75,000 a speech, so you would have to triple that and maybe you would — I have a question. Would you smoke pot before an appearance like this?

FOX: No. I mean, it might calm me down but it probably wouldn't be a good idea. Just like you wouldn't have a Mai Tai, which you might would enjoy after work.

INGRAHAM: Would you smoke pot everyday? I mean, would you recommend to someone smoking pot every day, no big deal?

FOX: Would I recommend? You know, some people, it's really no different than alcohol. You wouldn't want to abuse alcohol. You wouldn't want to abuse marijuana, but it really is just something that people use in place of alcohol.

INGRAHAM: Now, do you think alcohol — I'm just trying to understand the argument. Alcohol, and, look, alcoholism has wrecked families, wrecked lives, you know, that is a given. But I would agree with you on that. The argument that alcohol has wrecked lives and has killed people and all these drunk driving deaths and so forth, if it's really bad, then go after alcohol and point out the evils of alcohol, but that doesn't then make pot, you know, preferable. I just don't understand that argument because we still don't really know, do we, long-term effects of pot use, except we know head and throat cancers and, obviously, lung cancers, all the things that — no? No cancer risk at all for pot smokers?

FOX: No. No, and you can look it up. No, there have actually been studies. But the point is here, responding to what you said, is that you say there's no reason to, even if it is less harmful to give people that choice. But that's the point we're making. You acknowledge that alcohol is harmful. But if the alcohol industry came out tomorrow and had a press conference and said, "We have discovered a new alcohol that won't give you a hangover, can't kill you, doesn't lead to domestic violence and other forms of abuse," and everyone would celebrate. And that's what we have in marijuana, but we steer people toward using a more harmful substance and it makes absolutely no sense.

INGRAHAM: But it makes you really hungry. All right. Let's talk though about what your ultimate goal is here. Your goal is to have if you had your druthers, national — a national edict that, basically, the federal laws on just marijuana should be done away for recreational use.

FOX: Absolutely.

INGRAHAM: When does it kick into be a problem? When you're — when you have a certain amount of pot?

FOX: Well, it would be done on a state level, which I hope conservatives would appreciate, that each state would determine what makes sense for the public health and safety of their citizens. And, you know — and what we're proposing in Nevada right now, through the group you mentioned before, there would be each adult could possess up to an ounce.

INGRAHAM: All right. If you were going to get surgery, pretty important surgery, would you want a stoner to operate on you, someone who you knew used pot regularly? Would you want that person to do, let's say, brain surgery?

FOX: I really wouldn't have any more concern than if that person...


FOX: ...had vodka tonics when — after work to relax.

INGRAHAM: How about if you, if — talking to your kids today, and you say, "Well, look, there are a lot of dangers out there. Pot is — look, here's a bong. Here's some rolling papers. Go to it."

FOX: The same way you wouldn't give them a bottle of vodka and say, "Here, chug this." But we want to give them rational education.

INGRAHAM: Here's the difference. Here's the difference. And here's why you lose people, is that we have thousands of years of tradition, frankly, of alcohol use, thousands of years. We really don't know long- term effects on the brain of marijuana use. We do know a deteriorated lung function. We know that. You would agree with it. Inhaling, you know, smoke of any type is not good for you.

FOX: We can't say forever that we don't know. The truth is that tens of millions of Americans have been using marijuana for decades now. And the government has been trying to prove how harmful this is, and they just haven't. But we need to give our kids honest education. We're literally driving adults and children to drink, and alcohol can kill people, and marijuana can't.

INGRAHAM: Do you drink?

FOX: I do. Yes, occasionally.

INGRAHAM: Just trying to understand. Just trying to understand, folks. Mr. Fox, we appreciate it.

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