For the first six minutes of the segment, “Fox & Friends” host Steve Doocy agreed enthusiastically with his guest, Mehmet Oz, better known as Dr. Oz — even as Tuesday’s episode kept straying from the original topic of Ivanka Trump’s pregnancies.
When Oz lamented the “continuous barrage of criticism” Ivanka and her father have faced in the White House, Doocy agreed.
“It’s nonstop,” he said, hand on knee, leaning toward Oz from the far end of a cream-colored sofa.
“She sees this as a service to the country,” Oz said.
“For the greater good!” Doocy said.
From there, they got into the country’s opioid epidemic, one of President Trump’s priorities.
“That’s a very important thing,” said Doocy’s co-host, Brian Kilmeade, tossing his notes to the coffee table as if to signal the segment’s end.
“Can I ask you one thing?” Oz said, suddenly talking very fast. “I talked about the opioid epidemic, but the real story is the hypocrisy around medical marijuana.”
Now Doocy tensed up, one hand clutched in the other, a tight ball of fingers beneath a deep frown. He nodded slowly and inhaled as if to say something.
But Oz kept talking about the virtues of marijuana, and Doocy said nothing — yet.
Let’s pause the segment at this point of relative suspense and briefly review the public record of Doocy and pot.
August 2010, in a Fox News studio:
“The District of Columbia, which has a lot of really poor people, now they have a program where poor people get discounted pot!” Doocy said, putting his emphasis not on the drug, but the discount.
Washington had, in fact, passed a law that year giving low-income residents discounts on medical marijuana.
“The worry,” Doocy explained, “is people will say, ‘Yeah, I’m broke, and I need the pot.’ And they’ll give them the pot. Then they’ll just turn around and sell it on the street. Because it’ll be the really good stuff.”
Two years later, Doocy sat in his traditional position on the “Fox & Friends” sofa and voiced a new concern.
This was late 2012, and Colorado and Washington had just become the first states in the country to legalize recreational marijuana.
“What the advocates says is: ‘Great, now we can tax it,’” opined one of Doocy’s two co-hosts.
“What do we say to the parents and kids?” the other asked.
Doocy’s turn: “What’s to keep somebody from getting all potted up on weed and then getting behind the wheel?”
“Nothing!” he answered himself.
Regardless, “getting all potted up” became infamous as marijuana legalization became more popular in the United States. The phrase was resurrected as fodder for Jon Stewart in 2014, the same year a majority of Americans voiced support for legalization for the first time in the history of the General Social Survey.
At the same time, even as marijuana use has risen among young adults in recent years, it has fallen to a 20-year low among teens.
Maybe time helped ease Doocy’s fears. In 2015, he learned colleges were teaching business courses in marijuana and introduced his segment with tongue slightly in cheek.
“How would you like a PhD in pot? Maybe an MBA in marijuana management,” Doocy said, grinning as someone off screen laughed their way into (we swear) a coughing fit.
Doocy then took his place on a screen between two talking heads for a “fair and balanced debate” between a former drug addict and someone who liked the idea of the courses.
“We have colleges teaching our adults how to be professional drug dealers!” the former drug addict complained.
Doocy gave no opinion and restrained his commentary that day to a dry readout of the course curriculum.
Likewise, the host merely frowned in silence as Oz took the final seconds of Tuesday’s “Fox & Friends” segment to extol the wonders of medical pot.
“Just really quickly,” Oz said, “people think it’s a gateway drug to narcotics. It may be the exit drug to get us out of the narcotic epidemic.”
Across the couch, a hand floated up uncertainly from Doocy’s lap. The host clutched his striped tie, then the edge of his jacket, then dropped his hand back to his knee as his jaw fell open.
“Wow,” Doocy said, and Oz continued: “But we’re not allowed to study it, because it’s a Schedule 1 drug, and, personally, I believe it could help.”
But on the present matter, Oz echoed many in the research field who have found that marijuana is effective at dealing with chronic pain in adults and that states with medical marijuana laws see fewer opioid deaths. And the New York Times has documented “the obstacles and frustrations scientists face in trying to study the medical uses of marijuana,” which the federal government assigns to the same category as heroin.
Nor was the doctor’s outburst of advocacy a new theme for Oz, who for World Health Day in 2015 — the same year Doocy cracked wise about a PhD in pot — released a dramatic video calling for treating “marijuana as medicine.”
Anyway. After Oz’s little lecture, and before Tuesday’s show turned to the subject of Nancy Pelosi, Doocy managed to get in one last word about pot.
“I hadn’t heard that before,” he told Oz.