Ding Ding Ding, we have a winner!
And Kevin Sabet of "Smart" Approaches to Marijuana, is a stooge for these gangsters. Classic triangulation propaganda, seeking to stake out a "centrist" position that purports to be very very afraid of corporate concentration of power, while actually serving corporate concentration of power:
Launching Citizens for a Drug-Free Berkeley while an undergrad at the famed freewheeling school helped land Sabet a research job with President Bill Clinton’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, then another drug policy position under President George W. Bush. Finally he became a senior adviser to President Barack Obama’s first drug czar. He had high expectations for Obama’s marijuana policies. “I saw legalization coming down the pike, and I hoped this president didn’t get distracted by these really seductive arguments,” he says.
But instead there were setbacks, including the 2009 “Ogden Memo,” the Department of Justice notice that U.S. attorneys shouldn’t prosecute those in compliance with state medical marijuana laws, a memorandum that fueled dispensary industries around the country. According to Sabet, the memo blindsided the Office of National Drug Control Policy, triggering what he remembers as “pit in my stomach.”
The Ogden Memo was the turning point for Sabet. Marijuana advocates suddenly seemed more politically savvy, replacing buzzwords like “legalization” with more palatable options like “taxation and regulation.” In the fall of 2011, he left his job with the Obama administration to adopt his own approach to anti-marijuana advocacy. He recruited two contrasting heavyweights to his cause: Patrick J. Kennedy, the former Democratic U.S. representative from Rhode Island whose struggles with drugs and alcohol inspired him to become a steadfast anti-legalization proponent, and David Frum, a neoconservative speechwriter for George W. Bush. With their help, he launched what he titled “the third way” on marijuana policy, instead of outright criminalization or legalization.“
We had lost the middle,’” he says. “We had to rebrand.”
The Third Way
In January 2013, two months after Colorado legalized recreational marijuana, Sabet and Kennedy launched Project SAM in Denver. “We’re opening the doors to allowing a new, powerful industry to downplay the effects of a substance they will be profiting off of and to downplay the effects of addiction,” Sabet told the media at the time.
While the United States generally accepts big companies running major industries, Sabet argues a line should be drawn for potentially addictive products like marijuana. “Big Tobacco was a disaster for our country in terms of the marketing machine that was activated, while the government looked the other way for a century,” he says. “Do we want to repeat that with yet another substance? And one that in fact, unlike tobacco, produces intoxication and therefore leads to car crashes, workplace accidents, school dropouts and mental illness?”
It’s why Project SAM opposes any form of legalization. But then what does the organization want in its place? Sabet has repeatedly promised to develop model laws, but so far, policy proposals encapsulating Project SAM’s preferred legal reforms, such as reduced marijuana arrests and increased public health campaigns and treatment options, haven’t materialized.
“What do they want as a policy?” says Tom Angell, chairman of the pro-legalization group Marijuana Majority. “They make these assertions, how it’s something in the middle, but it’s very vague.”
Sabet says his organization has been working with drug-law experts and political consultants on the matter, and Project SAM-backed policy initiatives are coming soon. “We have to go on the offense,” he says. “I am sick of saying, ‘Vote no, vote no.’ We want to be ‘yes.’”
Sabet insists these proposals will be a major shift from the punitive “War on Drugs” approaches of old, including policies he worked on as a White House adviser. But some of his opponents wonder if his evolution is simply political expediency. “For many, many years he was a major driving force behind jailing and demonizing marijuana users,” says Brian Vicente, a Denver marijuana attorney who co-authored Colorado’s 2012 legalization initiative. “Now that public opinion has shifted away from the drug war, he has attempted to rebrand himself as the ‘Smart,’ middle approach, without acknowledging his past.”