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Christian Science Monitor is scared of… something

In today’s editorial: A federal misstep with medical marijuana?, they make their concerns about the recent Holder memo clear.

That cost is Washington’s tacit approval of state-sanctioned medical marijuana, which the drug’s proponents will take as a green light to push even harder for their ultimate goal: full legalization of marijuana use and distribution.

And that, of course, is the sham argument to fear of the prohibitionist — if we allow medical marijuana efforts to continue, people will start to accept marijuana and maybe lead to legalizing it, therefore, because we have no valid moral position to stand on, we should deny sick people something that will help them.

So what is this great fear they have of legalized marijuana. Note as more and more science has debunked the various reefer madness talking points, their arguments sound pathetically weak (even if they don’t realize it).

Generally, marijuana is not nearly as harmless as its proponents make it out to be. While pot cannot directly kill its user the way that alcohol or, say, an overdose of heroin can, heavy use can lead to dependence. About 1 in 10 people who have ever used marijuana become dependent at some time, according to Kevin Sabet, in the 2006 book, “Pot Politics.” Mr. Sabet, a staunch opponent of legalizing marijuana, is now a drug policy adviser to the president.

Heavy use can also lead to serious mental-health problems, especially in young people. Even casual use distorts perception, reduces motor skills, and affects alertness – a hazard in driving and other activities.

These concerns should cause the public to stop and rethink its growing support for legal use of marijuana (44 percent, according to an October Gallup poll, up from 34 percent in 2003).

Other than the “serious mental-health problems” from heavy use by teens (extremely disputable, and even if true, a good argument for regulation), there is nothing there conceivably warranting anything more than a warning label on the packaging at most.

I want to go back to part of that, though…

Mr. Sabet, a staunch opponent of legalizing marijuana, is now a drug policy adviser to the president.

Excuse me? When did this happen? Was I asleep?

I was beginning to think it was an outright lie, until I found this article online.

Sabet, 30, a special advisor for policy and strategic planning at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, joined two other panelists to discuss the “State of Addiction Healthcare” in Illinois and the U.S. […]

Sabet, who joined President Barack Obama’s Administration in August, previously worked on policy and speechwriting at White House drug control office from 2003-2004 and 2000 in both the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton Administrations, making him one of the youngest people to have served in the last three Administrations as a political appointee.

I knew the part about him working with past administrations, but I missed the announcement about his new gig with the Obama administration.

A search of the ONDCP website for Sabet comes up with 0 hits, nor does he show up on the DOJ site.

What is a special advisor for policy and strategic planning at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and if you are one, why wouldn’t you be listed at the ONDCP?

Does anyone know what’s up with this?

Update: I’ve received confirmation that Kevin Sabet is indeed working with the ONDCP — just not in a high profile way. Interesting.

I’ve seen Kevin debate. His arguments are those of the prohibitionist, so they’re weak and don’t stand up to rebuttal. However, compared to the outrageous folks that filled the ONDCP in the last administration, Sabet comes off as a somewhat reasonable fellow who is at least willing to listen, even though his mind’s made up.

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15 comments to Christian Science Monitor is scared of… something

  • Hope

    “What is a special advisor for policy and strategic planning at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, and if you are one, why wouldn’t you be listed at the ONDCP?”

    Maybe it’s something like Federal Deputy Elvis Presley.

  • paul

    The Monitor is correct in saying that medical MJ is the camel’s nose getting under the tent. Medical MJ is simultaneously a real issue (There really are plenty of people who can benefit from MJ as medicine) and a foot in the door for full legalization. The fact that it bothers the drug warriors at the Monitor is just a nice bonus.

    I’ve never really approved of the way medical MJ was used to open the door to legalization, because it lends an air of dishonesty to the drug debate. We conceded some of the moral high ground. The prohibitionists no longer have a monopoly on deceit–just a 95% market share.

    But, c’est la vie. It doesn’t matter if the cat is black or white, so long as it catches the mouse.

  • Tim

    Sabet is a big-time self promoter, so I suspect this “special advisor” thing may be a lot of puffery. Or maybe HR at ONDCP saw his Oxbridge cred and didn’t recognize the name. Who knows, maybe Gil owed him a favour.

    But, as Van Jones found out that off the wall views are distracting to the core mission. Perhaps Kevin Sabet will as well.

  • Nick Zentor

    Sabet sounds a little bit like one of those reactionary types that believe alcohol should have never been legalized and he’s opposed to mj legalization for much the same reasons. He probably practices abstinence and wants everyone in the world to practice it also.

    Not surprising the CS Monitor would mention him, because he is also, more than likely, a man with strong religious Christian roots, possibly bordering on the Xtian fanaticism that has become so popular in the west. Sounds a bit like the “good cop” who nonetheless lets the “bad cop” handle most of the discipline because he admires how effective it can be.

    It’s too bad guys like him fail to see how dysfunctional prohibition actually is to society. If he has an open ear, I suggest a continued argument about the pros of regulation might eventually help him see the error of is ways.

  • kaptinemo

    “…Sabet comes off as a somewhat reasonable fellow who is at least willing to listen, even though his mind’s made up.”

    Yes, there has to be a ‘reasonable’ face for an unreasoning policy as drug prohibition, but how can anyone be surprised at this? Mr. Sabet’s mouth was clamped on the Gub’mint teat very early in his adult life, and once having gotten a taste of that easy money (‘writing speeches’, so he was creating and disseminating misinformation and outright lies early on; nice work if you can stomach it) he wasn’t likely to let go of it.

    There’s a saying that ‘the winners write the histories’. This is only true in a generic sense; it’s usually the tame, gelded intellectuals in the employ of the winners who write the apologias for their master’s predations. Mr. Sabet is of that ilk. He knows damn well he’s conveying nonsense and lies, but so long as there’s a paycheck to be made from it, he’ll pimp himself and do it.

    Oh, and Mr. Sabet is a member of the Ba’hai faith…which is near universally oppressed in almost every non-Western country. His co-religionists know what that oppression is like…so why does he support that same oppression of others for their beliefs that cannabis has spiritual uses as well as recreational and medicinal? Children, can you say, ‘hypocrite’? Suuuure you can!

  • paul, that’s a little presumptuous. Your implication would seem to be that effectively all support for medical marijuana is based on the hope that it’ll lead to legalization, which of course isn’t true or else pot would already be legal in 14 states rather than just medical pot.

    Sure, some proportion of MM supporters are like that, though what that proportion is is anyone’s guess till it’s reliably studied. Personally, I support legalization, but it’s not like I see that as the only point of MM. MM has value in and of itself and if it leads to nothing more expansive (which is entirely possible), it’s still worth it.

    That said, I share your glee at this reaction. What’s most interesting to me is that what they fear is that legally available pot will be unproblematic enough as to encourage legalization. And they’re at least very likely right about that!

  • Buc

    My God, I hate that guy. It’s one thing to see a stooge like John Walters throw his crazy ideas out there, but it disappoints me to no end when I see somebody of that age so vehemently against freedom. Makes me think his dad was a cop. Either that or Sabet completely ate up the Reagan-era propaganda.

    Also, does anybody else ever view those appointed to federal drug policy positions as somewhat of a kangaroo court? The outcome is predetermined before any of the appointments are made.

  • DdC

    Just skimmed the comments on the Sabet(oge) article. 3/08/2009

    Public Faces Medical Marijuana Scam By Kevin A. Sabet
    CN Source: Daily Bulletin July 24, 2008 California

    The price of legalizing pot is too high
    By Kevin A. Sabet| June 07, 2009
    Sabet, a leech, nothing more than a tick. A parasite on society persecuting peaceful tokers and the sick and dying American citizens. Perpetuating myth’s out of greed and his own ego playing a wannabe Czarman, cager of stoners! Chickenlittle Liars deserve no press.

    sabetchickenlittle.jpg

    sabetklintoon.jpg

  • DdC

    The Khristzion Monster has never been correct in its existence.

  • paul

    Fyodor,

    I’m not saying that all support for medical MJ is because medical MJ is a Trojan horse for legalization. People support it for many reasons. Some of them are straightforward, and others really were waiting for Troy to open its gates. Just how many were legit, and how many are Greeks we’ll never know.

    But now I think I hear the sack of Troy beginning 🙂

  • fallibilist

    Sabet, who joined President Barack Obama’s Administration in August, previously worked on policy and speechwriting at White House drug control office from 2003-2004 and 2000 in both the George W. Bush and Bill Clinton Administrations, making him one of the youngest people to have served in the last three Administrations as a political appointee.

    Now can we all acknowledge that the Obama administration is completely useless in rolling back the War on Cannabis?

    With his silly cult of personality, President Barry has everyone believing that he might, possibly, sooner-or-later…actually change something.

    Bullshit.

    • Seems like a bit of projection there on your part, fallibilist. I don’t recall seeing much of “everyone” on this site believing that reform would actually be driven by the President, regardless of who it is. The most we were likely to see is some benign neglect from the Presidency — and that we’ve seen already in this administration to a greater degree than the past two administrations. Regarding the hiring of Sabet by the ONDCP… who else would they hire? By law, the ONDCP must oppose legalization; to change that requires Congress to act.

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  • FWIW, an update to the original article in the CSM identifies Sabet as a “special adviser to Gil Kerlikowski”.

    Also interesting that the CSM, like most prohibitionist websites, does not allow for reader comments on the site.

  • deafers

    I don’t agree with him, but Kevin is a good guy. Why is everyone launching personal attacks here against him? He’s a smart doc that we happen to disagree with. Calm down people.