Kevin Sabet, former White House drug advisor to Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama, and current president of anti-cannabis advocacy group Smart Approaches to Marijuana, wrote an op-ed for CNBC this week. In the midst of threats from the Department of Justice’s investigation into federal cannabis enforcement, Sabet encouraged Jeff Sessions to use the full force of the law to crack down on the country’s legal weed industry.
In the article, he chides the eight states that have already legalized recreational use cannabis, and pleads the Trump administration to once again return to a nationwide system of criminalization and incarceration. In other words, Sabet encourages the AG to continuing propagating the systemic oppression and racism that comes hand-in-hand with the War on Drugs. Sabet also attempts to appeal to the public’s sense of wellbeing, using bogus stats to manufacture fear.
“We do need to enforce federal law.” Sabet wrote. “Indeed, by reasserting federal control over the exploding marijuana industry, we know we can make a positive difference in preventing the commercialization of a drug that will put profits over public health and fight every regulation proposed to control its sale and use. Marijuana addiction is real, and simply ignoring this health condition will only cost us down the road. We should assess marijuana users for drug use disorders as well as mental health problems, and assist those into recovery. This can’t happen in a climate that promotes use.”
To try and support his dangerous claims, Sabet uses tried and true 2007 government statistics (or course, without mentioning what year the data is from) that link cannabis in with the rest of the country’s illicit substances, and claim that drugs cost the nation $120 billion in “lost economic productivity.”
When it comes to the reality of recreational cannabis in America, Sabet chooses to ignore the countless success stories, from Colorado’s rural school districts adding brand new K-12 facilities and sending graduating high schoolers to college for free with cannabis sales tax, to the state’s unemployment rate, the lowest in the country.
Instead, Sabet points out Colorado’s budgetary woes, which have absolutely nothing to do with cannabis, and uses baseless claims of super-strong weed to drum up panic about our children’s futures.
On the topic of young people, Sabet claims that “in states that have already legalized the drug, there has been an increase in youth marijuana use.” To back that “fact,” he links to a nationwide study that looks at two percentage points from 2002 and 2013. Had he dug a little bit deeper, Sabet would have found more recent studies from both the federal government, and legal weed states, stating that teen use has either remained even or steadily decreased across the nation in the years since legalization.
But you probably already knew all of that, and based on previous articles, so do the editors at CNBC. That’s precisely why it’s so disappointing to see one of the country’s far-reaching mainstream media sources give a platform to such obvious anti-cannabis propaganda.
Sabet claims that he doesn’t want to see legal weed entrepreneurs or employees go to jail, but by inviting Trump and Sessions to meddle, that is exactly what the anti-cannabis advocate is setting up. Does he imagine the DEA will knock politely, ask pot shop owners and cultivators to hand over their product, and encourage them to get a job selling insurance instead?
Get a grip and stop wishing incarceration on law-abiding citizens, Kevin.