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Ending Marijuana Prohibition

Why Kevin Sabet Is Wrong About Oregon Marijuana Legalization Efforts

kevin sabet tobacco web sites marijuana
(via wikipedia)

In some ways, I feel bad for Kevin Sabet. Kevin Sabet and his opinions are so unpopular these days, and it must be hard arguing on behalf of marijuana prohibition, which is a colossal waste of tax payer dollars, is a racist public policy, and is losing support daily. I’m sure Kevin Sabet doesn’t lose much sleep though, as he seems to like what he does, and probably sleeps in a bed that costs more than all of my possessions combined.

I had a brief discussion on Twitter with Mr. Sabet, which was initiated by his tweet that stated the following:

“I’m sorry that you are so flippant about creating another Tobacco industry. The people behind 91 in OR want to get rich. Period.”

To which I responded:

“False. I’m not rich, I just want to be able to legally consume a plant that is safer than alcohol in the privacy of my own home.”

Mr. Sabet then replied with:

“Privacy of your own home? Knock yourself out. Why not stop at decriminalzn then? Why do we need a new Industry pushing this?”

I provided the following response, which was the end of the conversation:

“Decrim carries a penalty, legalization does not. I’d prefer to keep my hard earned money considering I’m harming no one.”

Kevin Sabet didn’t respond after that, but many others did, providing their own rebuttals to Kevin Sabet’s reefer madness. 140 characters is not enough to adequately carry out a conversation sometimes, so as always, I invite Kevin Sabet to write a blog post that I will gladly post on my website for millions of people to read if he wants to, although I doubt he will take me up on that offer.

Mr. Sabet, the marijuana industry, even a ‘Big Marijuana’ industry is not going to be the same as the tobacco industry. The tobacco industry kills hundreds of thousands of people a year, and has been doing so for decades. The tobacco industry profits off of the misery of it’s users. That is not the case with the marijuana industry. The medical marijuana industry has improved the lives of countless patients, and the recreational marijuana industry has killed no one, despite your attempts at trying to make it appear that alcohol and accidental deaths were caused by marijuana use. It was worth a shot for you to try, but anyone who looks at the facts of each case sees that you are clearly wrong.

The people behind Oregon Measure 91 are not trying to get rich. Every person that offered up their signature to the initiative is a backer. Anyone who has donated time and/or money is a backer. Anyone who plans on voting ‘yes’ on Election Day is a backer. Will some of them profit off of the passing of the initiative? Yes. But they will be a very, very small percentage of the backers of the initiative. Everyone else is backing the initiative because marijuana prohibition has failed, and they want to see much needed jobs come to Oregon, to see racially biased enforcement come to an end, and to see state resources going to fighting real crime, not towards enforcing a failed policy that causes way more harm than good.

Kevin Sabet pretends like he supports marijuana decriminalization, which he doesn’t. But lets suspend reality for a moment and pretend he does support decriminalization. Decriminalization does not help consumers, as they are still fined for possessing marijuana. I know first hand, as I had to pay a hefty fine for having marijuana in my pocket during a traffic stop once upon a time in my home state of Oregon. I almost lost my driving privelages as a result too, but fortunately the judge showed mercy on me and allowed me to keep my license.

Marijuana legalization is coming to Oregon, whether Kevin Sabet likes it or not. And it won’t be because ‘Big Marijuana’ wants to get rich off of Oregon citizens. It’s going to be because Oregon voters want a new, moral, logical approach to marijuana laws. If organizers behind New Approach Oregon only wanted to pass the initiative to get rich, than they wouldn’t have a home cultivation provision in the statute. They would have drafted an initiative that would have given a small group of people a monopoly on the industry. But that’s not the case.

Organizers, who are my personal friends, are motivated to end marijuana prohibition in Oregon because they (or their friends and/or family) have been victims of marijuana prohibition, and don’t want to see others have their lives ruined because of a plant that is safer than tobacco and alcohol. As one of the New Approach Oregon heads once told me, ‘The main reason I became a marijuana activist wasn’t because I wanted to get high, it was because I was tired of seeing my black friends get arrested for marijuana when my white friends where just getting warnings for the same thing. That’s f’d up.’ Future generations will look back on your work Mr. Sabet, and I don’t think the history books will be favorable to you. I strongly recommend that you move onto something else that doesn’t involve defending a failed, racist, harmful public policy.

  • Stel-1776

    Of course the addiction industry could be biased against legalization,
    especially if they are aware of the fact that government policy has
    little effect on usage rates.

    More than half of the people in
    addiction treatment centers for cannabis were referred there by the
    criminal justice system. Only 16% were referred there by another
    individual or went on their own:

    Primary marijuana
    admissions were less likely than all admissions combined to be self or
    individually referred to treatment (16 percent vs. 35 percent). Primary
    marijuana admissions were most likely to be referred by a criminal
    justice/DUI source (52 percent)

    Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS)2001 – 2011. National Admissions to Substance Abuse Treatment Services.

    As a whole it is a very profitable industry:

    The
    addiction treatment industry in America is expected to have revenues of
    $34 billion by 2014, an increase of 55% from 2005. The vast majority of
    that spending — nearly 80% — is underwritten by public funding, and
    the remaining portion paid for by insurance or private fees.

    “The Real Tab for Rehab: Inside the Addiction Treatment Biz”, dailyfinance.com

    When asked why so many police organizations are lobbying against marijuana-law reform, retired Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Stephen Downing said:

    It’s money, In many states, the city government expects police to make seizures, and they expect these seizures to supplement their budgets.”
    “The only difference now compared to the times of alcohol prohibition is that, in the times of alcohol prohibition, law enforcement—the police and judges—got their money in brown paper bags. Today, they get their money through legitimate, systematic programs run by the federal government. That’s why they’re using their lobbying organizations to fight every reform.

    People who benefit from cannabis prohibition:

    •Law enforcement, including: DEA, police unions, private prison owners, prison guard unions, lawyers, bail bondsmen, parole and probation officers.
    •Cartels & drug dealers
    •Alcohol industry
    •Pharmaceutical industry
    •Addiction treatment industry (through court related referrals)
    •Other industries who’s products are threatened by hemp products, including: plastics, synthetics, fiber, biofuel, paper, and oil.

    The large majority of current money benefits from cannabis prohibition, not legalization. The Correctional Peace Officers Association gave $1 million to the 2008 campaign against Proposition 5, The Nonviolent Offender Rehabilitation Act, which would have reduced sentences and parole times for nonviolent drug offenders while emphasizing drug treatment over prison. The California Beer and Beverage Distributors donated $100,000 to defeat the same bill. Opponents of California’s Prop. 19 in 2010, which would have legalized the sale of cannabis, include: California Police Chief’s Association – $30,000, California Beer and Beverage Distributors – $10,000, California Narcotics Officers Association – $20,500.

    Considering these powerful influences, it is little wonder why it has been so tough to pass sane laws regarding cannabis.

    • Duncan20903

      Even self referred people in “treatment” for the fiction of merrywanna addiction are not necessarily there because they think that they “need help” with a merrywanna addiction. Employers, parents, spouses and “children’s protective services” are all known to have coerced people into re-education.

  • Sarijuana

    Good post, Johnny.I want to add this – So what if it starts a new industry? It’s not like America doesn’t need jobs, right? I can grow my own tobacco in my yard, but I still chose to buy a pack of cigs a couple of times a week instead, and I can buy tomatoes, but I choose to grow them myself whenever I can. As long as weed is legal for me to grow my own if I choose,I don’t care if capitalism wants to get big and green. Job growth.

  • mike1188

    Mr Sabet if you read this blog read this. I am from Michigan, I only want marijuana legalized because I want to be free of persecution and prosecution. Unlike you and all of your millions I don’t need money to make me successful I have my family, I have respect from my friends, I am talking about friends that have always been there for me and I them no matter what. So what if I choose to start a store if I could. I have no plans yet. But I have enough income to take vacation, pay for my house and cars keep my wife and family happy and pay my bills. So if any one is trying to get rich off of marijuana how much do you get paid to speak out against marijuana, how much do you get paid to lie to people.

  • Jetdoc

    With his degrees being in Public Policy, it speaks volumes for the type of Public Policy that HE supports. Obviously it’s one where blacks are 4 times as likely to be arrested for marijuana as a white kid is, when usage rates among the 2 groups are virtually the same. One in which a “simple possession” charge can derail someone’s college plans, cost them a job, their children as well as their belongings. He can make all the CLAIMS he wants, but this guys ideas of even FINING people to me goes too far! At worst, all I’m doing is hurting myself.

    He says that those who want legalization are being economically selfish, and that they’re only doing it to get rich. Johnny hit the nail on the head when he said “home cultivation…” blows that theory out of the water.

    I’m really tired of him attempting to equate Marijuana and Tobacco or EVEN alcohol. The effects are 180° out from one another. The ONLY way you can connect cannabis and alcohol is in describing how to treat/tax it. The societal effects are not even close to one another. However Sabet’s on record as saying Alcohol prohibition was also a good thing.

  • Kevin Sabet is a paid lobbyist and says what he is paid to say. For that reason I don’t see why he gets any credibility at all.

    • Dusty Relic

      Besides that picture is totally obsolete; he’s not even handsome anymore. He got fat by sucking on the teet of court-ordered drug rehabilitation. Google him for a more current photo and tell me I’m lying.

  • jimheffner

    Kevin Sabet, Patrick Kennedy, Michele Leonhart, et al are all the prohibitionist/obstructionists have left. Don’t expect the voice of reason from any of them. Just because they are all on the short list for nomination to head up ‘The Ministry Of Silly Walks’ does not mean they aren’t dangerous to our common interests. The over regulation of Cannabis or anything else plays into the hands of the ‘bottom liners’ and favors those with access to corporate funding. Over regulation of anything costs more to the Ma & Pa startups on a percentage basis of their budgets while Big Biz just passes the cost on to the consumers. In my rose colored future there will be no problem for Grandma growing up to 6 or maybe even 25 plants in her back yard or Niece Sara in her dorm closet, or Uncle Joe using his old unused tobacco drying shed for a better purpose. I envision competing at the State Farm Show for a ribbon just like the weird poultry growers and Aunt Ginny with her preserves. I see the Farmer’s Market as the primary place to purchase some herb until my next grow finishes. Please don’t allow them to give all the advantages to the same interests that pushed for prohibition in the first place. Let us grow our own(preferably organically). There are 10,000 years of history of Cannabis in our fields and herb gardens. Just say, Ozzie and Harriet don’t live here anymore and get the Nanny wannabes out of politics and back in the nursery.
    Say it with music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-xvmlNJH4fU

  • HmmmSaysDavidHume

    I don’t feel the least but sorry for someone who has spent their entire adult life crafting lies and deceptions, supporting the oppression of brown people, promoting the enrichment of violent cartels, and stuffing the wallets of his psycho-con artists who value money over results.

    No, Sabet is one of those rubes of history who spews their useless philosophy only for personal profit. When he says people in Oregon only want to get rich, it should be evident to all (except Sabet, in his fake arrogance) that Kevin himself is benefiting richly in all of this.

    The hypocrisy, the implied racism, the contentment with kingpins on the Forbes Billionaires list, the arrogance…all point to someone who, inwardly, is very likely self-loathing for his adherence to a grossly and ethically flawed position.

    The entire addiction treatment industry demeans itself with their stances on this issue. Little wonder they have little credibility in the debate. Abject failure + greed = Sabet + SAM

    • Cyndysub

      True, I suspect that Sabet and Rush Limbaugh might have a lot in common.

    • Dusty Relic

      I would challenge the readers here to find out where Sabet’s group gets its funding. There is information on funding sources for similar groups but I can find none for Sabet’s. Why is this information so secret? What is this sneaky bastard trying to hide?

  • Dusty Relic

    What is it about (the hypothetical) Big Marijuana that makes it so much worse than the (real-live) urban street gangs and Mexican cartels?

    • HeyJah

      Most of us are sick of the lobbying and corruption of big corporations in America. Sick of the country being hijacked by special interests. Sick of living in a world that COULD be far more wonderful than it is. We are sick of the middle class being gutted, leading to ever greater disparity of wealth. What should the future Cannabis industry look like? Keep it cottage industry – keep it quality – keep it accountable – keep it local. We know what is good – let’s make it happen. Good incomes for MORE people.

  • Cyndysub

    Dr. Sanjay Gupta has helped a lot of people see through the BS about Cannabis and well as CNN by some of the programs they have shown. So i think that it’s getting harder and harder for the Cannabis haters to BS the public these days.

  • SickofSabet’sLies

    Right now my step son is here visiting: he is 25 and has issues stemming back from the days when his bio-Dad got 7 years at Sheridan for watering a “friend’s”(who narked on him to save his hide) cannabis grow. Their whole family was shattered by people like Kevin Sabet.
    Kevin,do us a solid and get on your knees and apologize for what you’re trying to do and then crawl back under the rock you and the drunk Boston Irish street urchin u share.
    Thank you.

  • SickofSabet’sLies

    Isn’t it time we cannabis people stop acting so nicey-nice towards liars like Kevin Sabet,SAM,PJ Kennedy?
    What these piggies need is a “damn good whacking”( thanks George Harrison), right in their face.
    I’m certainly not playing nice with these crooks and liars;why? Because it’s a matter of personal survival and medical treatment-any asshole who threatens my life (which cannabis&hemp saved),I will treat them as the threatening enemy they are. No more Mr.NiceGuy,prohibs!
    It’s a matter of survival and you will be regarded as the enemy you are.

    • Buzzby19491

      I’m sure you have Mr. Sabet and his cronies shaking in their boots.

  • local farmer

    theres validity in what hes saying about weed becoming like the tobacco industry. if you put the cultivation of it in the hands of few, they can charge whatever they want and add harmful or fatal chemicals. when legalization hits it needs to be an open free market.

    • Uncle Arthur

      Somehow I don’t find validity in someone who makes money from Big Rehab bitching about Big Marijuana (whatever means by that). I find hypocrisy, instead.

      • Uncle Arthur

        *he

    • 2crudedudes

      Sure, big marijuana could always be an issue. But you know what that means? It’s not that marijuana is the problem, rather, it’s corporate law that is the problem. Big tobacco, big asbestos, big GMOs, big everything. Anything run by big money with little regulation will always be a risk. It’s not a risk inherent to marijuana. This is bulls­h­i­t on so many levels, it astounds me that these a­s­s­holes even get to keep their jobs after blatant disregard for the lives of Americans.

  • Wyatt Smith

    Yeah, I gotta say, there is literally no one fighting for Prohibition anymore – and anyone who does say they are for it, is getting quickly marginalized.

    It’s somewhat stunning how fast marijuana legalization is turning into the mainstream, clear majority opinion.

    The issue is settling itself in peoples’ minds quickly, so I expect that when laws start changing, they too will change quickly and decisively.

    Oregon, Alaska, and Washington D.C. will likely ALL agree to legalize marijuana.

    And seriously, once Washington D.C. itself is legalized, the rest of the country will follow suit very very quickly.

  • Jeremynicholson87

    Decriminalization does absolutely nothing to take out the black market for marijuana, and simply let’s it thrive while the police can still profit off the fact that you did something that harmed nobody and shouldn’t be a crime in the first place . There’s no safe reliable place for people to purchase it, and the state gets no taxes from it as it would in a regulated legal cannabis system. Legalization is the only feasible answer to the problem .

  • 2crudedudes

    Kevin Sabet has never been right about marijuana ever. I wish he would have killed himself instead of Robin Williams.

  • Facebook User

    I’m not hip to Kevin sabets theories but consider this…. GMO marijuana will be bad for the user. The connection to the tobacco industry will go like this: marijuana is legalized, then big corps take over production (uraguay just passed a law enabling Monsanto to mass produce it with roundup ready seeds, they will mass produce while adding additives much like cigarettes for preservation/burning agents/etc ect ) then with their powerful lobby they will pass laws in the best future restricting home grows to keep a handle on the black market. I am absolutely for the end of prohibition but we have to be soooo careful not to get so excited about it that we allow corporations to slip in and profit off of our need for legal liberty.