Kevin Sabet is looking for centrists. Here we are.

Sabet’s latest article is in the New York Times: Overdosing on Extremism

… extremists on both sides have taken over the conversation. Unless we change the tone of the debate to give drug-policy centrists a voice, America’s drug problem will only get worse.

The problem is, Kevin is clueless when it comes to defining extremism. He seems to think that the extremes are “legalization” and “enforcement only”:

a few tough-on-crime conservatives and die-hard libertarians dominate news coverage and make it appear as if legalizing drugs and “enforcement only” strategies were the only options

Here’s the problem with his argument. Legalization isn’t an extreme. It is, rather, an entire range of options — essentially all of the options available to society except for the single destructive and failed policy of prohibition (where drug distribution is put in the hands of criminals).

Sabet is looking for nuances in the policy of criminal drug distribution, and that’s just absurd.

Legalization is where you find the centrists. Take a look at LEAP, for example. Many LEAP members are opposed to drug use and strongly advocate extensive regulation of drugs. That’s certainly not the free-for-all libertarian model that Kevin Sabet seems to imagine to be the entire legalization world.

Legalization encompasses a wide range of options. Certainly not everyone here has the same view of how legalization should look — only that the extremist position of prohibition is dangerous and destructive.

Kevin should read Transform’s Blueprint for Regulation for a fine centrist view of drug policy.

And as far as Sabet’s bizarre implication that legalization isn’t worth discussing since the public doesn’t support it, in fact the public supports it surprisingly well considering the decades of lies they’ve been fed by “public servants” like Kevin Sabet.

[Thanks, Tom]
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57 Responses to Kevin Sabet is looking for centrists. Here we are.

  1. claygooding says:

    I am still trying to figure out this:

    “”Indeed, moderates have historically been key contributors to both the debate and the practice of effective drug policy.””

    What debates and what effective drug policy????

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  4. claygooding says:

    I wrote the editor and asked that he not allow Sabet or anyone proud of being connected to the most failed drug policy in history to use his paper as a platform to spread support for continuing it,,,without forcing them to allow comments so their lies and fear mongering can be addressed in real time.

  5. darkcycle says:

    Beware of anybody who enters a controversy or public debate and accuses everyone else there of being “extremists”. The cry of “where are the moderates?” will invariably be followed with a presentation of THEIR position as the only truly moderate one. It’s a tactic, and not a very effective one at that.

  6. Servetus says:

    Poor Kevin Sabet. He’s singing his heart out on the deck of the prohib’s Titanic, faithfully believing his ship will never sink. At this rate, he’ll never make it to the lifeboats in time.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Well somebody has to make sure the deck chairs are in their proper place. We couldn’t let a ship sink with it’s deck chairs out of order, now could we?

  7. ElVira28 says:

    Pretty big publication for anyone. And a damn good article.

    • claygooding says:

      I am sorry Elvira that you actually believe a word Kevin Sabet has to say about prohibition.

      In case you don’t know the type of person Sabet is,,he helped set up the “treatment instead of incarceration scheme”.

      The only problem is that they launched it before they realized just how broken our economical system was and no one rushed out to build the treatment centers required to do that.

      Now Sabet is working for a drug treatment consultant firm out of Philadelphia,advising treatment centers on the way to qualify for the expected influx of marijuana addicts when the judicial system changes over to treating marijuana criminals for addiction instead of locking them in prison.

      Just like every drug czar and their lieutenants before them,,they build a market by starting policies that require a service,then they go into that service business. The drug czar that started the urine analysis policies now costing employers millions of dollars yearly is running a consultant firm for businesses wanting to set up urine testing for their companies employees.

      And urine analysis has become a multi billion dollar industry.

    • Malc says:

      ElVira, why do I suspect you’re simply Kevin Sabet in drag?

      “Kevin actually does make some sense here, and his argument goes to the heart of the proposed study.”

      Rather pathetic of you, Kevin, don’t you think?

      • Peter says:

        Yes, it’s funny how “Elvira” only shows up when Kevin is being discussed….
        and dig the the slightly breathless tone of “And Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is the reason there is a drug czar in the first place” as evidence of the historic role of “moderates” in the drugs debate

        • Duncan20903 says:

          I met a real estate agent once who claimed to have sold a property for Mr. Biden. She said when she went to evaluate the home for a listing that it was a most foul place right down to the discarded jockey shorts on the bathroom floor sporting skid marks. She seemed most appalled because she had an appointment.

          Normally I wouldn’t repeat such a story for which I have no substantiation but I’ll make an exception for Mr. Biden. You know, using that always 20/20 hindsight he was the “tell” which should have clued us in to the future with Mr. Obama.

        • tt says:

          Actually, asshole, if it was Kevin trying to pretend to be someone else he would just post under a different name. Get a brain. And no one reads this site anyway.

        • darkcycle says:

          No one reads this site? You do. What sort of a name do you suppose Kevin might pick? (if he were to post here, I suspect he would probably just use “Kevin”, but that’s me, I think Malcolm was being facetious). In any case the “get a brain” comment is kinda funny in the context of the rest of your post…

  8. Peter says:

    dont you just love the way prohibs keep banging on about giving vulnerable addicts a second chance. you can get over an addiction but you can never get over a conviction (unless your name is bush)

    • rita says:

      True that, Peter. I also love it when they talk about this nation’s “drug problem,” which they intend to keep pretending to cure with bigger and more frequent doses of violence. I get why drug warriors do what they do. They are, without a doubt, the most vile, self-serving creatures on the face of the Earth, but at least their motives are clear. What I honestly can’t wrap my mind around is how any member of the tax-paying public could possibly believe that putting people in prison for using certain drugs is a good idea.

  9. MaineGeezer says:

    I try to be careful to specify that I am in favor of legal regulated sale of drugs. I think just saying “legalization” causes many people to imagine joints being freely sold out of vending machines in school cafeterias or something. It’s silly, of course, but it happens.

  10. Cannabis says:

    Kevin A. Sabet, a drug-policy consultant who makes his living off of the policies he set while he was a senior adviser in the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy from 2009 to 2011, is now allowed ad space masquerading as op-ed pieces in The New York Times.

  11. Duncan20903 says:

    Damn. It certainly sounds like he’s bastardized one of my favorite indictments of prohibitionists. Lost in his version is exactly what Pete points out. Not that I think Mr. Sabet has bothered to take the time to read any of my posts much less knowingly chosen to bastardize my opinions on the issue but it still tells me that particular approach (example below) is a failure. Remember, just because you or I understand a concept doesn’t mean that the people we need to convince will understand it as well.

    “The choices are not binary, i.e. either summary execution of anyone even suspected of being involved with any substance on the naught list or being forced to allow the sales reps from the heroin factory to set up promotional displays to hand out free samples in the lobbies of our elementary schools. Either choice is just as absurd and there’s a wide open middle ground between the two. While it may take some trial and error to define the “sweet spot” we can be 100% assured that current policy is destructive to our society and a dictionary picture example of utter failure. It is beyond absurd to refuse to try something new because it might fail and instead cling to an embrace of proven failure. “Might fail” also means “might succeed.” Guaranteed failure is just that. Thomas Edison used to say, “there is no such thing as failure. One simply succeeds in proving that something doesn’t work.” We can declare the war on (some) drugs a stupendous success in proving that this approach doesn’t work, hang up the “mission accomplished” banner, and move on to doing the necessary work to succeed at figuring out what works.

    Bill Maher had a column in the Times as well. Great stuff. Time for us to declare war on the United States indeed.

    You can’t be against same-sex marriage and for Newt Gingrich. No man has ever loved another man as much as Newt Gingrich loves Newt Gingrich. ~ Bill Maher

  12. darkcycle says:

    No Effin’ comments. I HATE that. NYT sucks ass.

    • claygooding says:

      The comments can be turned off by the poster dark,,after we put his oped at Huffington Post in the trash last month,,I imagine Sabet decided to post at the NYT to avoid his words being flushed down the toilet 15 minutes after he pasted it.

  13. Ed Dunkle says:

    Off topic alert!

    KPCC just re-ran a piece about the California Medical Association’s call for legalizing medical marijuana. Here is the link.

    In it, Mark Kleiman says that the DEA does not reschedule drugs, that the drug scheduling is set by statute. This struck me as odd, and as far as I can tell this is not correct. From, ahem, Wikipedia:

    ” Two federal agencies, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Food and Drug Administration, determine which substances are added to or removed from the various schedules, though the statute passed by Congress created the initial listing…”

    The process for re-scheduling (involving an opinion from Health and Human Services) is a bit labored, but I don’t think it is correct to say that the DEA can’t change the scheduling of a particular substance. Am I reading this correctly?

    Anyway, Happy New Year! 2012 should be interesting.

    • darkcycle says:

      DEA must consent to reschedule, IIRC, and everybody, including their own administrative law Judge, the late (lamented) Francis Young has called for it at one time or another. But because it’s CONSENT of the DEA, the DEA (and by extension The White House, and the President) has chosen to ignore them. So, Essentially yes, it’s the DEA that holds the Schedule hostage. Unless congress steps in by making new, or repealing existing laws.
      Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong…

      • Matthew Meyer says:

        Wait…did I miss the update on Francis Young? I thought his whereabouts were a mystery…is he really “the late”?

        • darkcycle says:

          Unfortunately, yes, he appears to be among the departed. He has “shuffled off this mortal coil”. I must say, there was much wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth (there might have been a little mortification of the flesh, too, but I’ll spare you the details) that went on in the darkcycle household when it was confirmed by Duncan, I believe. He will be remembered (to the prohibitionists). Alot.

        • Duncan20903 says:

          No, not me, I just speculated about which Francis Young he was on the list of dead Francis Youngs pulled up by malcolm(?) It was Rick Steeb who found the bad news and broke it to us. I picked the guy from Potomac MD because those hearings should have been in Rockville or Arlington and Potomac is a suburb of DC. It may have been the guy from Spotsylvania VA but that’s a DC exurb, the guy was a lawyer and Potomac is a high dollar neighborhood, and then I flipped a coin in my head and it came up Potomac.

          The only reason his death was so shocking to us is because the man immortalized himself to us with that 1988 ruling. But that was 23 years ago and judges aren’t usually wet behind the ears as a general rule of thumb. For all we know he could have been 88 in ’88 when he wrote that ruling.

          I would like to know if he used cannabis medicinally when he was on his deathbed. Well presuming of course that he didn’t just drop dead, or get hit by a drunk driver, or get terminated by a government agent from “black ops” because they were pissed off about his ruling. You know, if the man is truly immortalized to us there should be conspiracy theories, just as a matter of basic respect. What more basis do we need than the facts that he’s dead and he pissed off the powers that be?

  14. Peter says:

    Moderation is in the eye of the beholder. In most European countries a politician like Obama, with his views on the wars, (both foreign and domestic, i.e. drug), capital punishment, healthcare, support for the banksters etc. would be considered a right wing conservative. In the US he is able to appear as a Tony Blair style “moderate” only because there are many who are even further to the right, who absurdly criticize him for being a “socialist.”
    This skewed perspective of where the middle ground lies enables people like Newt Gingrich to make disingenuous claims that those who support Ron Paul are all drug users and, as has already been said, that “legalizers” want all drugs to be openly sold to anyone, without any government controls, which of course is what we have at the moment under prohibition.

    For purposes of diversity, and to refute prohibitionists who read this blog and conclude that we are all drug users, let me say that I have not used a major mood-altering drug, including alcohol and cannabis for 22 years. A day at a time, I intend to remain abstinent because in the past I became physically addicted to at least one particular drug. This is my personal choice and other adults must decide for themselves what to put into their bodies. I am totally opposed to prohibition for the simple reason that it does not work, and never prevented me from gaining access to my drug of choice, or any other illegal drug. What it did do was screw up the lives of many around me by adding convictions and jail to their already troubled lives and ensuring that if they did break the hold of addiction, they would bear the stigma of those convictions for ever more. Also, I have known friends die because of prohibition, either because the black market drugs were toxic, or because when they overdosed on unusually pure drugs the people they were with were afraid to call an ambulance and incriminate themselves.
    There are many more reasons for opposing prohibition which have been discussed at length on this site and on others, such as the Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP) site: Despite this, It is still far too easy for prohibitionists like Sabet and Gingrich to occupy the middle ground and call sensible drug regulation an extremist position in comparison to his own views.

    • darkcycle says:

      As Pete succinctly pointed out, they may CLAIM to occupy the “middle ground”, but in reality they occupy the extreme-namely that there is no way to deal with drugs other than criminal sanction.

  15. Duncan20903 says:

    I think I’ve discovered what Mr. Sabet’s problem is: How Marijuana May Drive the Brain into Psychosis

    Seriously though, this article actually mentions that it might have something to do with CBD being bred out of the plant. Then it degenerates into standard issue reefer madness style nonsense but it does show that we are chipping away the stone. I once read a story traditional to some Asian culture about a man who stole a mountain. It took 10,000 years because he did it one spoonful a day. There wasn’t any mention of why he was so long lived but we all know that Asians are nucking futz when they tell stories. In the US the story is about a guy in New York City who steals a salami one slice at a time while riding the subway. Now that’s much more believable.

    The so called research was done in Britain. Why is it that cannabis only drives the British and their descendants loony?

    Pass it on: The compound THC in marijuana may increase symptoms of psychosis, while another compound called cannabidiol may decrease those symptoms.

    • Matthew Meyer says:

      That THC / CBD and psychosis meme, whatever its scientific basis, has been getting interesting play in medical marijuana discourse as a way to convince people that inside the “bad drug” they know cannabis to be, there’s a “good drug” that is “real medicine.”

      That perks my ears when I hear stuff like that.

      • claygooding says:

        Matthew,,when prohibitionist are pushing the false science of NIDA and the ONDCP,the only way you can give them pause is ask them:

        If marijuana caused cancer,,psychosis,,and addiction,,where are all the hospitals full of marijuana users dieing of cancer,the mental hospitals full of crazy marijuana smokers and rehab centers with marijuana addicts that were not ordered there by the judicial system?

        • allan says:


          Just ask ’em where all the bodies are… they can’t answer because… there aren’t any.

          And thus arose the term, excrementalism. Built on dung, powered by dung… to paraphrase an old saw, you can’t fool me, it’s poop, all the way down. In fact a case might be made that in the tradition of the original claymation, Gumby, today’s prohibitionists are really Poopmation®

          In fact… I would argue that they are completely self contained poop fueled poop producers. I mean look at how many times they can fling the same turd, just over and over and over… it is pretty remarkable, really. Disgusting, but remarkable…

      • Duncan20903 says:

        It also helps discredit the Marinol® pot in a pill nonsense.

        Has anyone here ever heard of a pothead going out and getting a prescription of synthetic dronabinol for any reason which wasn’t precipitated by piss tests?

        Can anyone tell me the location of a Marinol® “pill mill”?

        Has anyone ever heard of or met a black market Marinol® vendor?

        Shit, I’ve even known a couple of opium dealers back in the day. I’ve never even heard someone say that someone told them that they’d heard that someone else had a friend that knew a guy that thought about going into the business but decided not to do so because nobody had any interest in buying Marinol® unless the doctor told them to do so.

        • claygooding says:

          yes Dunan,,and do you know how pissed the company is that Marinol doesn’t have a black market side to that pill.

        • Duncan20903 says:

          Why would we give a shit about Solvay? The legit biz is still good, they’re pushing $200 million in sales nowadays. Boo flippin’ hoo, my heart bleeds for them.

          The lack of a Marinol® black market is egg on the face of the prohibitionist. It makes our case so much easier to make. Just imagine our lot if we had to deal with potheads lined up at pill mills from Portland to Portland, from Phoenix to Peoria and all points in between? You know, sometimes life does give you a break. People just don’t always notice.

        • darkcycle says:

          You know, I bet they ARE pissed there’s no black market. I’d guess they are still scratching their heads over that one.

  16. Peter says:

    duncan youre absolutely right about the biden tell for the future under obama. that was written on the wall even before the about turn on torturegate

  17. Most people using the extremist slur are just using it for ad hominem effect.

    I think of prohibition as a hammer whereas legalization is like the whole tool box.

  18. A Critic says:


    The NYT is the same paper that prints Paul Krugman, including his latest “Nobody understands debt” in which he illustrates his astounding lack of understanding of debt. Sabet makes fine company for the pied piper of economics. And did you see their anti-concealed carry piece in which they included statistics that if combined with other well known statistics they didn’t include shows concealed carriers break the law far less often than non-concealed carriers?

    Sabet is an extremist and apparently delusional. He describes Harrison and Woodrow Wilson as moderates. He must believe his own BS.

  19. darkcycle says:

    I thought it was Cheyney who came up with the “deficits don’t matter” meme. How is it that conservatives just discovered we had a debt problem in 2008?

  20. claygooding says:

    Comments open:

    On medical marijuana, Maryland should go slow,0,2437571.story

    “”With any new medical treatment, the primary consideration for doctors is the evidence — how effective is it, what are the side effects, what are the indications, what is the appropriate dose, and so on. That should go for lawmakers and regulators, too, even when it comes to the emotionally charged issue of medical marijuana. There is a mountain of anecdotal evidence suggesting cannabis is useful in treating pain, nausea and other symptoms of chronic disease, but there is precious little in the way of rigorous scientific study. That’s why Maryland lawmakers should opt for a path toward legalizing medical marijuana that puts academic research ahead of wide availability.””

    It needs the “second opinion from a politician” comment added,,,hint hint :<)

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Great idea. I had actually put that article off until later. So on your say so that it fits. I’m standing in the middle of Home Depot buying a bunch of junk. Their “free wi-fi” makes me think of the old saw, you get what you pay for…

      But that post is one of my personal favorites, if I may be so bold to say so and give myself a well deserved pat on the back. As a matter of fact I did write that because she woke up deathly ill that morning. She never did actually answer me in words when I told her we should call in a politician. Man that was a dirty look. Now I’m worried that people are going to start thinking that my wife is a very sickly woman. She’s not, excepting Fridays and Tuesdays which are attached to holiday weekends.

    • darkcycle says:

      I just finished off a prohibitionist at that site named JC in blog-fu style. I’m sure the accolades and the “likes” will flow freely…

  21. kaptinemo says:

    The problem here is that most people don’t realize just how or why the Overton Window was moved in this country with regards to political orientations. But it was all deliberate. And Sabet is a very small part of the reason for that happening.

    In military parlance, he’s a ‘ticket puncher’. A ‘Massengale‘. Politically connected, but offering nothing of any real substance, as he’s always been a bureaucrat and nothing else.

    Like some creature that’s found only in an incredibly specific ecological environment (like fish that evolve in caves and don’t need eyes), he couldn’t survive having to do a ‘real job’. So he’s floating about, trying to interest others in DrugWar wonkdom of his ‘street creds’ as another Ivory Tower denizen blissfully ignorant of the mess he and they make. Another Bob Wiener. Another human example of ‘GI-GO”.

  22. claygooding says:

    It has always been my contention that no one is worthless,we can always use someone as bad example,but I have no idea where to use Kevin Sabet.

    His claim to fame is to help prolong the war on the American citizens by they’re own government,,which ranks him with Benedict Arnold and several of the people in the Nazi party.

  23. claygooding says:

    Student who sold marijuana on Columbia campus sent to rehab that could get his case dismissed

    My thoughts: another person with enough money bought their way out of prison,,had this bust happened in the “hood”,,the “dealer” would have been headed to the closest penitentiary.

    My comment: It is good that the courts are starting to reduce their sentencing policies concerning cannabis but it will be better when these peoples lives and futures are not ruined.

    Legalize,tax and regulate cannabis,,take the billions of dollars exported tax free to Mexico and Canada and keep it here,,where it can give our economy a jump start.

  24. Peter says:

    Off topic but good article on colorado ballot on recreational cannabis use. See also the interview with Neil Franklin from LEAP:

    • claygooding says:

      Thanks peter,,got them posted and people are cheering,,two states,,whose next?

      • Duncan20903 says:

        Steve Kubby says they’re not going to have any problem getting Regulate Marijuana Like Wine onto the California ballot. They certainly appear to have their ducks in a row. Not just ducks, big ducks. BFDs no doubt.

        Did Dr. Paul win yet? The man is confident. They were even talking about him on the ABC news tonight! They were trying to figure out how he’s going to lose so he gets eliminated as expected! There’s no doubt at all that the end of the world as we know it is just around the corner!

        • kaptinemo says:

          Thanks for that link. It says a lot of what I have been saying for a great many years about why incrementalism ultimately gets turned back on us, judo-fashion.

          “The next major problem with 215 is that it failed to remove bad laws from the books. California’s medical marijuana laws are not in conflict with the CSA or federal drug laws, as they merely decriminalizes possession and cultivation of marijuana statewide, for certain individuals, in a defined medical class. Nothing in the CSA or federal law requires California to pass any state laws outlawing marijuana use, possession, sales or cultivation. However, by stopping at decrim, instead of repeal, we left the door wide open for police and prosecutors to find ways to charge bona fide patients, who were compliant with 215, with criminal activity nevertheless. RMLW fixes this problem by repealing all those terrible marijuana laws: (Emphasis mine – k.)

          Decrim is and has always been the Sword of Damoclese hanging over MMJ patients’ heads, just ready to fall at the slightest jostling by law enforcement. The Sword needs to be removed altogether. Leave the opposition a single chance to hurt you, and they will happily, joyously use it to screw you over. Which is exactly what they’ve done and continue to do.

          No more half-way measures. No more ‘hoping against hope’ the demonstrably vicious police will ‘play nice’ under a decrim schema. End the prohibition State-wide as New York did during alcohol Prohibition, by banning local cops from helping the Feds. It’s long past time.

    • Duncan20903 says:

      Oh my word. That’s the best comments column I’ve ever read. There are definitely potheads pretending to be prohibitionists and making them look bad.

      I’ve heard there are people who abuse their own naughty parts. What if that were legal? There would be people doing that when they’re driving! Their cars would be like those hydraulic hot rods that are driven by His panics! I don’t want to see people playing with their particulars in public places either! Then we’d have to let people marry their hands for crying out loud! Ooooh, I’m so excited! I asked for my hand in marriage today and it said yes! It makes people go blind. ’nuff said!

  25. Duncan20903 says:

    Ron Paul wins Iowa!

    Hush now of course the MSM is going to write “too close to call”. They haven’t a clue of how to write and publish “Ron Paul wins Iowa!” and they couldn’t leave the headline blank, now could they?.

    But come on, does he really have to come in first to win? Did any of the other candidates go from 2 to 22 in less than 2 months? Do they dare exclude him from the upcoming debate now?

    Chuck Norris has endorsed Dr. Paul. Who in their right mind would say no to Chuck Norris? Sheesh, who’s next, Ted Nugent?

    • darkcycle says:

      Duncan the media says it was Romney by EIGHT VOTES, Ummmmm..and they’re claiming Santorum was the runner up in the ugly pageant. Everybody’s sayin’ RP was third.

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