Marijuana hearings…. and Sabet

This has been discussed a fair amount in comments, but I wanted to address it in a regular post.

This Tuesday, September 10, at 2:30 pm Eastern, there will be a hearing in the Senate Judiciary Committee: Conflicts between State and Federal Marijuana Laws

Witness List

Panel I

  • The Honorable James Cole, Deputy Attorney General, U.S. Department of Justice, Washington, DC

Panel II

  • The Honorable John Urquhart, Sheriff, King County Sheriff’s Office, Seattle, WA
  • Jack Finlaw, Chief Legal Counsel, Office of Governor John W. Hickenlooper, Denver, CO
  • Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D., Co-founder and Director, Project SAM, Director, Drug Policy Institute, University of Florida, Cambridge, MA

That last name on the list surely provokes a WTF? from a lot of folks. I mean, really. Kevin Sabet? What makes him a relevant witness on the subject of the conflicts between state and federal laws? Nothing. He’s not knowledgeable about the legal or political issues. He’s not an expert on the states involved, and certainly not one on marijuana.

But he’s got a credit of having worked for the ONDCP, is willing to whore himself out whenever marijuana is mentioned (and seems to have unlimited time to do so), and has an opinion that is in relatively short supply these days (that marijuana should remain illegal). He also has the ability to present himself as a sane person, as opposed to a majority of the other prohibitionists out there. I’ve seen Peter Bensinger testify — you expect there to be a nurse handy to change his diaper. Crazies like Betty Sembler and Calvina Faye? Lots of historical baggage. Kevin may be peddling shit, but it’s shit in a suit.

I know there are some who feel that ignoring him is the best approach, but as long as he is interviewed in every mainstream media piece about marijuana, that’s really not an option. Check out this recent piece

Kevin Sabet, who served as an adviser on drug issues to President Obama and former Presidents Clinton and George W. Bush, said the drug czar could serve as “a powerful conduit for the direction of drug policy.”

He said the czar must make sure the nearly dozen federal agencies that deal with drug issues work in sync, but that the position had clear limits and no drug czar could legalize a drug Congress had banned.

“Even if they wanted to, no one in the executive branch could legalize drugs … because the Controlled Substances Act is the law of the land,” Sabet said.

That last statement is an out-and-out lie. In fact, the CSA was set up so that executive branch agencies were the ones to add or remove drugs from the list. Or maybe Kevin actually is that stupid — after all, he’s not interested in the truth — he’s simply going to use anything in his arsenal to make a point.

Recently, Kevin got a major piece in the Christian Science Monitor: 7 big myths about marijuana and legalization. This is essentially a condensed version of his book: “Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana

Reefer SanityYes. I have read his book. If I’m going to continue criticizing him, I’ve got to know what he’s saying. I’m certainly not suggesting that anyone else do so, however, because it’s not a pleasant experience.

Here are his seven myths in a nutshell;

1. Marijuana is Harmless and Nonaddictive. Complete straw man.

2. Smoked or Eaten Marijuana is Medicine. He takes a diferent approach here, but never actually addressing the so-called myth. He doesn’t even attempt to disprove marijuana’s medicinal qualities when smoked or eaten, but rather focuses on a host of things that have nothing to do with the subject.

3. Countless People are Behind Bars Simply for Smoking Marijuana. He starts off with a straw man, then admits that way too many people are negatively affected by marijuan aarrests, etc., thereby proving the “myth” and then randomly and bizarrely suggests that more people will be arrested after legalization.

4. The Legality of Alcohol and Tobacco Strengthen the Case for Legal Marijuana. This is straw man in the way he presents it. It really is an excuse for him to improperly claim that marijuana is the same as alcohol and tobacco and therefore every bad outcome from either of those two in past history should be expected from any form of marijuana legalization.

5. Legal Marijuana will Solve the Government’s Budgetary Problems Straw man.

6. Portugal and Holland Provide Successful Models of Legalization. This is also a straw man, as legalizers know that neither is a case of true legalization, but rather the fact that they have each followed a significant path of depenalization without serious negative consequences is useful information.

7. Prevention, Intervention, and Treatment are Doomed to Fail – So Why Try?. This one’s a complete mess – a combination of straw man, failing to address the so-called “myth” and making the unfounded assumption that marijuana use is a priori “undesirable.”

In his conclusion, he addresses his third way approach with its “no to legalization” and “no to incarceration” approach. The question we always ask is “What about the non-problematic user who doesn’t need treatment?” This appears to be his answer.

“If carried out correctly, however, arrests can serve two good purposes. A smart arrest policy can both provide a societal stamp of disapproval and provide an opportunity to intervene and stop the progression of use. The current policy of simply arresting and fining marijuana users represents a missed opportunity for drug education and intervention.”

So yes, it would appear that Kevin Sabet, by his own arguments, wants to actually increase law enforcement efforts against marijuana.
Some third way.

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60 Responses to Marijuana hearings…. and Sabet

  1. Cannabis says:

    I will be extremely upset if President Obama nominates Kevin Sabet to be ONDCP Director. I truly hope that his appearance on a panel about drug policy before the Senate Judiciary Committee is not a dry run.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      You might consider that no one would have known that the emperor was naked if he hadn’t decided to have a parade.

      Also, I’ve got to say that I’m pretty sure that I would consider it very amusing if Mr. Sabet was the last American drug czar. It doesn’t much matter who fills the position. That person would still be required by law to pervert the truth by any means necessary. Given that I actually prefer that an idiot like Mr. Sabet fill the position because he tells so many easily discredited whoppers. If we survived John Walters we can survive anyone.

      I vote in favor of Mr. Sabet and his foot long nose. We should be so lucky.

  2. Jean Valjean says:

    Hopefully steve cohen and jared polis will be asking sabet some questions about how this weasel is funded

    • Jean Valjean says:

      oops…they are or were on the HOUSE committee? I thought is was the senate judiciary committee who interrogated Leonhart so effectively… this lot (Feinstein!) look like a right bunch of drug warriors and bung artists (those brown paper bags are just their lunch of course).

      • N.T. Greene says:

        I think it’ll be fine. Leahy is at the front and he is on our side for the most part (and he is behind this whole hearing to begin with). And let’s not discount the timing element here. It is becoming increasingly clear that the public tide is going away from prohibition and towards legalization. What better source of conversion could you possibly want? If this comes out as a win of sorts for us anti drug war folk, it could very well be a monumental victory.

        Despite popular belief, change is possible when the opening is right. And this has every appearance of being right. I don’t expect instant legalization, but I suspect that more will come out in favor of legalization after it is brought forward like this.

        One last comment about our favorite bat boy, Mr. Sabet: I hope you know that, going into this, your very way of life is on the line. Your reckless disregard for human rights and the well being of those you consider lesser is going to be called into question, and if your sinister charm fails you… well, you can only hope that the ivory tower you seek to scale still exists on Wednesday.

        We do not trust you, and this may be the biggest gig of your life. The problem is that you’re on the wrong side of history and stand for ignorant athoritarianism.

        Good luck, Kev. I can’t watch you live, sadly, but I am sure there will be plenty of coverage.

      • primus says:

        they did not do a very good job on leonhart, I watched the clip and they could have destroyed her if they would have asked their question differently; Rather than ‘are you saying that marijuana is as bad as heroin?’, they could have asked ‘are you saying heroin is no worse than pot?’ Anyway, she skated.

  3. N.T. Greene says:

    It is to be devoutly wished that Leahy absolutely destroy Sabet. Especially after his little joke of an AMA. This isn’t slow pitch anymore, kev. They’re gonna be throwing nothing but heaters.

    The rest of the panel, though, looks pretty good.

    • J P Oatler says:

      No disrespect, but what heat? When it gets down to the nitty gritty, the Old Boys’ Network $ticks together. Remember former Good Guy Obama?

      • N.T. Greene says:

        Clearly you don’t know much about Leahy.

      • Duncan20903 says:


        Say J P, I’m really very curious, why do people of your opinion bother to waste your time with discussing this issue? I sure wouldn’t waste my time if I believed that there wasn’t any hope of change. I’d rather spend my days watching reruns of Beavis & Butthead. C’mon, humor me…is it one of those “misery loves company” deals?

        If the powers that be had such an iron grip on reality Marie Antoinette would have been buried at a much later date with her head still attached to her body. Hmm, that one is getting to be a little bit old. Strike that and instead I’ll assert that if the powers that be had such an iron grip on reality then I-502 and A-64 would not have won the day in November 2012.

        Please shit can the pessimism. All that’s left to do is to dot the Ts and cross the eyes as far as the end of the absolute prohibition of cannabis is concerned. The only thing that’s worse than being a pessimist is being a pessimist who’s just plain wrong.

  4. N.T. Greene says:

    If anything, Kev is looking like he might be put in as the fall guy. He is so in love with his warped and unoriginal ideas I’m willing to bet he’ll ride this to the bitter end.

    Cmon Kev, even Gil has enough sense to get off before the last stop.

  5. Jean Valjean says:

    Lets hope as the article suggests that appointing Sabet to Gils old job isn’t Obama’s way of trying to convince the public that his administration is moving in a new direction on drugs. AS someone pointed out the other day, Sabet’s outfit SAM is one letter short of what it really stands for: SAME.

  6. My alternet piece debunking Sabet got over 30000 views. Hoping that it can help to somehow discredit his testimony.

    • Servetus says:

      Much thanks for that. You really pinned Sabet to the wall.

    • darkcycle says:

      Yes, good job taking Kevvie out back to the wood shed on that one, Sunil.

    • allan says:

      Hi Doc Sunil… thanks for stopping by… really appreciate all you’re doing. Jim Greig says you’re the man and if your elevation of the public discussion recently is any indication of what’s to come he’s certainly right on that. I look forward to more of the same. Hopefully of course, only for the short-term future.

    • Excellent article Sunil,
      Link to it above. I would much rather hear that it was you testifying instead of Sabet. Would be nice to hear some truth.

    • Matthew Meyer says:

      It’d be nice to see Sunil Aggarwal testifying before Congress along with Kevin Sabet, or in his stead.

    • parotteater says:

      No man, you are obsessed with the guy. do you like him or something?

      • primus says:

        Keeping a wary eye on an adversary, keeping track of his words and actions so they may be countered, critiquing his words and actions and encouraging like-minded people to take action to counter said words and actions, educating the ignorant about the lies, half-truths and straw man arguments which are his stock in trade is NOT obsessing, it is intelligent.

    • NorCalNative says:

      Sunil, thank you for your work for patients.

    • DdC says:

      cool Sunil …

      Myth Busters!
      If there’s somethin’ strange in your neighborhood. If it’s somethin’ weird an’ it don’t look good. If you’re seein’ things runnin’ through your head. An invisible man sleepin’ in your bed. If you’re all alone, pick up the bong. Mmm, if you’ve had a dose. Of a freaky myth baby. Let me tell you somethin’. Myth Bustin’ makes me feel good. Don’t get caught alone, oh no. When he comes through your door. Unless you just a want some more. I think you better call. (Mythbusters!)

      5 Biggest Lies from Anti-Pot Propagandist Kevin Sabet
      AlterNet / By Sunil Kumar Aggarwal
      It is time to bust the myths Sabet has been perpetuating.

  7. Cmurua says:

    If anyone wants to see some interesting things said by Sabet, head over to Reddit where he recently did an AMA. One of the funny things pointed out by some of the Redditers is that most of the comments he answers are for 0 day accounts. Meaning they were started that day and they only really pander to his talking points.

    • Cmurua says:

      I would also like to add that I added his book to my wish list on Amazon just to see how it would do. About a week before the book came out there were five 5 star reviews put up. All five reviews are by people that have never reviewed anything else on Amazon. Granted some of the one star reviews there now are just bashing on the book, but the first five were a little fishy. Especially the one in which the reviewer included her credentials in her user name. She evidently has a Masters in Education.

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  9. Servetus says:

    How did Kevin Sabet get on the Leahy committee? My guess is Patrick Kennedy arranged it.

    Senator Leahy and Senator Edward Kennedy were once best buddies. Patrick Kennedy probably knows something that lets him blackmail Sen. Leahy into admitting Sabet. And there you have it: the means and opportunity to perjure oneself before a senate committee in a vain attempt to perpetuate systematic violations of human rights.

    Kevin Sabet is making the same mistake Adolf Eichmann made. Kevin signs his name to everything favoring drug warfare in the midst of an apparent government withdrawal from the drug war. Like Eichmann, who disobeyed Himmler’s orders to end the killing in the camps, Sabet could end up taking a lot of the heat for failing to act to end human rights violations when that is the present goal.

    • N.T. Greene says:

      I obviously agree given my former comments here.

      I just wish I had been familiar with who you compared him to. I guess the only difference is he gets his orders from one rung up while those in charge refuse to obey the will of the people because there is money involved.

      The source of my dismay, then, would be that there is still profit in the erosion of freedom. I hope to never be a politician, as having power in that sense does not appeal to me at all, but I wish I had a shot sometimes.

      “The pursuit of knowledge is the spirit of progress.” Or ad inexplorate.

      • Servetus says:

        This might be a helpful bio of Eichmann. He’s the subject of an excellent new movie called “Hannah Arendt”, a philosophy professor who attended Eichmann’s trial in Israel. I just saw the movie this weekend, hence the Eichmann reference.

        • jean valjean says:

          glad you mentioned arendt. her book on eichman ” the banality of evil” and the growth of totalitarianism from petty small minded origins has many parallels with the drug war and jobsworths like kev. look forward to seeing the film.

        • Jean Valjean says:

          “The greatest evil in the world is that committed by nobodies”-Arendt
          My list would be a long one but would start with Leonhart, Sabet and Paul Chabot

    • Duncan20903 says:

      One very drunken night at the Kennedy sheep farm and the poor man is pwned for life.

  10. Stresser says:

    You guys are obsessed. Seriously. And Sunil Aggarwal is absolutely infatuated with the guy.

    Me, I’m just gonna smoke myself out while you guys get all stressed.

    • sub = robopoems x g x h says:

      Hi Kev!

    • Plant Down Babylon says:

      We’re obsessed with ending this bulls@#t prohibition!

      Hope the swat team doesn’t kick your door down while you’re ‘smoking yourself out’ and shoot your poor dog and stick a boot into the back of your neck while they asset forfeiture your house.

      Is that the 3rd way you’re talking about?!
      Who says we’re stressed?
      I’d say pissed off is more like it!

      • Duncan20903 says:


        It’s much better to be pissed off than pissed on.

        I admit that I find Mr. Sabet fascinating. Almost as and in the same way as fascinating as the day I was stuck on I-95 in Miami for 3 hours while they used a crane to lift a tractor trailer off of a very flat VW Bug.

  11. Pete says:

    My review of Kevin’s book is now up on Amazon.

    • Jean Valjean says:

      here’s one of the 5 star reviews on amazon;

      “Dr. Kevin Sabet, an internationally acclaimed expert, educator, and advocate,
      known as the “quarterback of the new anti-drug movement”,
      throws a game winning touchdown for his team with this “must read”.

      It’s quite corny enough to have been written by Kev himself.

    • B. Snow says:

      And you gave us a very accurate, “Short Answer” – description of Kevin and his “Third Way”,

      “That’s not a third way — it’s merely a way to use law enforcement to force more people who don’t need it into mandatory treatment intervention.”

      This is the goal of Kevie & Friends = to protect their “rehab/treatment industry”, cannibalizing shrinking incarceration programs and trying to hold onto that money for themselves.

      They’re very desperate to hold onto this concept that any “marijuana use” is some sort of “self-abuse”… That its somehow akin to a doorway into godless ‘cult’ of hedonism – “sex, drugs, and rock & roll” = Perhaps?

      My ‘Long-Answer’ = IMO, It’s closely related to Nixon’s “straight society”:

      I know all the arguments about [how] marijuana is no worse than whiskey. But the point is, once you cross that line, from the straight society to the drug society — marijuana, then speed, then it’s LSD, then it’s heroin, etc. then you’re done. We’ve got to take a strong stand. I think if we legalized it, then your high school and elementary kid, well why not?

      The Audio tape of this really gives light to his apparent belief that Alcohol is ok, but its not a drug and (He’d been listening to Art Linkletter’s comments on the subject – who’d lost a daughter, she jumped out a 6th story window.
      Linkletter was convinced at the time it was due to an LSD flashback (toxicology tests determined there were no drugs in her system at the time of her death), and it was doubtful if she ever took LSD – it WAS pretty clear she committed suicide – blaming it on drugs was probably easier than accepting that…

      Art Linkletter made a big deal about “permissiveness in modern society” (a topic that social-conservatives are still wailing about at every opportunity), This was mirrored in a number of Nixon’s taped conversations & public speeches.

      Here’s an excellent 2002 Salon article by – Tom McNichol Tricky Dick’s guide to drinking and toking

      How Diane Linkletter’s suicide led to Nixon’s ‘Drug Summit’ with Art Linkletter May 18, 1971. It goes over the details of “Linkletter Vomit Theory” – that basically says people don’t drink themselves to death, But “druggers” – will sit down and start with marijuana & ‘casually’ switching to heroin – in the same sitting.

      The article also hits the classic Nixon: “A person does not drink to get drunk.” — Nixon: “A person drinks to have fun.”
      And, in this Summit these two even appear to form the basis of the theory of the “amotivational syndrome”. And, what might’ve been the birth of (or at least led to the popularization of) the “gateway theory”…

      All told, this ‘meeting of the minds’ lead to LOTS of fear-mongering of things this so-called, “straight society” = simply didn’t understand. To his credit, Linkletter changed his stance on marijuana a few years later, AFAIK – Nixon never did.
      Definitely worth reading…
      Can’t say the same of Kev’s book – despite the catching & misleading title.

  12. DdC says:

    Conflicts between State and Federal Marijuana Laws ecp

    The International Drug Policy Reform Conference,
    Denver, October 2013

    The International Drug Policy Reform Conference is a biennial event that brings together people from around the world who believe that the war on drugs is doing more harm than good. It brings together over 1,000 attendees representing 30 different countries.

    Like most physicians, Dr. Gupta never learned about cannabis in medical school. Until recently, he knew nothing about how cannabis worked on a molecular level, its mechanism of action in the brain and body, its side effects and safety profile. He had not been following the remarkable discoveries of scientists associated with the International Cannabinoid Research Society, which was formed after the first cannabinoid receptor was identified in the brain in 1989. Instead, Gupta took his cues from federal agencies, which maintain that marijuana is a dangerous drug with no medical value.
    ~ Martin A. Lee,
    The Potential Miracle Element in Cannabis That Changed Sanjay Gupta’s Mind About the Power of Pot. Author of “Smoke Signals,” discusses the healing powers of the cannabis plant.

  13. darkcycle says:

    Kevin, have you and your SAM nannies noticed that you are losing? Badly? Despite the veritable army of straw men you are able to summon?
    Toothpaste is out of the tube, it was trampled by the horse leaving the barn, which upset humpty-dumpty so mightily he fell on it. Checkmate in two moves, Kevvie. Time to tip your queen, loser.

  14. Dante says:

    “Societal stamp of disapproval”?

    Hey, Kevin. I’ve got your stamp right here.


  15. kaptinemo says:

    As the old saying goes, “Justice is what we deserve! Mercy…is in not getting it.”

    Those who think they are uniquely suited to wield the sword of Justice invariably fall prey to their own hubris, and when the sword is wrested from their hands because of the damage caused by their delusions of righteousness, they are usually the first to be struck by it…punctuated by their screams of shocked outrage; they’re the only ones supposed to do the chopping!

    It was this hearing that brought Kevin to political prominence in Warshington.

    Let us hope that this latest hearing does for him what one did for Joe McCarthy. And help end an even greater witch-hunt than even McCarthy could conceive of.

    Because Kevin represents the smiley-face mask of faux reason taped to a blood-dripping, vicious Juggernaut of a policy that has ruined the lives of millions, killed who knows how many tens (if not scores) of thousands, here and around the world, and destroyed this country’s system of rights and liberties in a manner that no foreign threat ever could. Ripping that mask off publicly to show what’s behind it would go a long way toward ending the nightmare.

  16. TheUnknownPundit says:

    Pete, I’d go easy on your Sabet intake for a while, otherwise you could put yourself in the hospital.

    • Servetus says:

      The rest of us can’t do that. This is too much fun.

    • DdC says:

      Sabet is a tick sucking the blood out of Americans. A maggot eating the rotten flesh of the drug war corps. To consider it for policy input shows the integrity of the task force and it is not what it would have us perceive. Sabet will hang with the other liars and thieves at the Ganjawar Tribunal. You can only fool some of the people all of the time and they are becoming obvious and soon oblivious. Ah, Kevin Abraham Sabet-Sharghi, I spit in your face… Patoooy!

  17. There is no reason to have Kevin Sabet appear in front of the Senate Judiciary committee unless its to hold him up as a perfect example of why Sanjay Gupta had such a hard time finding out the facts about marijuana. How can he lie with such a straight face and expect anyone to believe any of what he says? His authority stems more from who he knows rather than what he knows.

    • allan says:

      which is why Kev-kev isn’t a candidate for drug kzar. That’s being reserved for Mark Kleiman, the uh… moderate.

      • darkcycle says:

        He can’t do that, his entire reason for being is in sitting on that fence between the drug warriors and the legalizers. The minute he does that he’s firmly in the drug warrior camp and can’t play both sides.

  18. curmudgeon says:

    If Cole and Urquhart are titled “the Honorable”, why isn’t Kevie titled “the Dishonorable?”

  19. Howard says:

    Steph Sherer, Executive Director, Americans for Safe Access, refers to Sabet as;

    “…the Ann Coulter of the anti-drug reform movement…”

    BONK! (oh, that’s got to hurt)

    • Howard that is hilarious. Thanks for the laugh.

    • Windy says:

      Steph Sherer is wrong, Ann Coulter is at least intelligent. I don’t like her (I think she’s rude, there are nicer ways to say things) but she’s on the money with a much of what she says. Kevin Sabet has neither of those redeeming qualities, about the most one can say about him is he is generally polite when he spews his prevarications.

  20. Recently someone sent me an email with the press release from SAM. It made my blood boil then and this makes it boil now. How is it possible that this person has become an “authority” and get’s so much press and air time? Does anyone know who is included in his list of big financial backers? That might be enlightening.

  21. DdC says:

    Book Review: Reefer Sanity:
    Seven Great Myths About Marijuana by Kevin Sabet
    By Phillip Smith, Stop the Drug War – Friday, September 20 2013

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