Mark Kleiman asks Kevin Sabet the big question

On twitter:

[…] Now, is there any way to keep prohibition and limit the excesses of drug law enforcement? That’s the hard one.


Kevin always talks about there being a way to solve the problems of the drug war without legalizing, but never seems to be willing to share his “secret” plan. And while Kleiman supports marijuana legalization as a concept, he always seems unwilling to grant people the authority to make decisions for their own lives.

The reality is that there are two answers to the question.

1. No. There has never been any evidence that prohibition can exist without excesses of drug law enforcement. We’ve dealt with various kinds of prohibition for decades and there is no evidence of the potential of a benevolent prohibition.

2. The question assumes that prohibition (if somehow done “right”) is a “value,” but it is not. Prohibition is a fatally flawed concept from the beginning, because it makes a crime out of things that are not a crime. In a wrong-headed effort to tackle a particular perceived societal ill, basic human rights are infringed, and that is simply unacceptable.

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37 Responses to Mark Kleiman asks Kevin Sabet the big question

  1. Servetus says:

    In drug enforcement there is typically no victim acting as a plaintiff. Lack of a complaining victim reduces drug law enforcement to methods involving corrupt informants, coerced testimonies, and plain dumb luck. These law enforcement methods are, of course, always prone to abuse.

    Drugs can be planted on innocent people. Because drug laws operate essentially as guilt by association, anyone can be a drug law victim if it’s convenient for someone else, the ‘someone-else’ being some kind of bigoted authoritarian or racist who draws an arbitrary line in the sand against non-toxic euphoriants.

    The drug laws operate under the assumption that we live in civilized times, and yet the so-called civilized ones are at this moment trying to drag us down to the level of pre-war Germany, in which privacy and human rights meant nothing, and the state (or the corporations, in this case) meant everything. The only uncertainty left at this point is how spectacular the prohibitionists’ failure will ultimately be. So far it’s been very entertaining.

  2. jean valjean says:

    Egregious actions by Michigan State police:

    Here’s a question for Mi Attorney General Bob Schuette:

    What evidence will you be calling for to rule out any possibility that this targeting of an apparently blameless black driver in a Cadillac was motivated by asset forfeiture greed for the car?

  3. strayan says:

    “Worst excesses are inherent in prohibition.” Not so. Europe has prohibition but not undercover “stings.” – Mark A.R. Kleiman

    lol. Kleiman uses ‘undercover stings’ as an example of the worst excesses of prohibition.

    What’s the current working theory about what goes on in the vacuum of a prohibitionist’s mind?

  4. Crut says:

    Kevkev’s [non] response:

    I think it’s worth trying to do, compared to the alternatives.

    MK: Is there any way?
    KS: Yes.
    MK: How then?
    KS: Yes.

    ?? *crickets*

  5. kaptinemo says:

    “The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.” – HL Mencken

    Given that there has always existed a malevolent element to prohibition of any sort, Kleiman’s question is actually a reflection of that element.

    The question, when shorn of (tissue paper thin) neutrality, is actually this:

    “How can we maintain prohibition as a means of effing with those we don’t like for various reasons without it seeming that that is what we are doing?”

    It’s getting more naked by the day. As the walls of reform close in on them, they are getting more compressed. As they get more compressed, and that which is within starts to ooooooze out, around and through the public masks, through the eye-holes and the mouth, revealing actual motivations.

    The public is seeing what’s been hid behind the faux smiley face mask of the prohibs. The mask is slipping, showing the snarl that was always there. Ferguson is what happens when the mask ‘suddenly’ (for some, anyway, the ones, unlike us, who’ve not paying attention these past 30 years) falls to the ground, and they don’t pick it up to put it back on in time.

    It’s pure denial, now. That question proves it. They still think they can snatch defeat from the demographic jaws of victory with some magical formula(e) or incantation, like “Just Say No!”. We all see how well that’s worked, with support for re-legalization solid in the 18-35 year age group of voters.

    The very people Officer Friendly from DARE tried to turn into the latest generation of marks for his prohibition con-game instead went thumb’s-down on it – and him – and are instead choosing freedom.

    The more that happens, the more the prohib’s Inner Facsist gets incensed, and wants to BTFO of somebody. They’re trying to do legally with the OK/NE lawsuits what they could never dare do face-to-face with the public, which has largely chosen cannabis reform over prohibition. Again, Ferguson showed their true colors, for all to see.

    Their Inner Fascist knows if it tried, the last scrap of legitimacy this government has would be voided, the rifles would come out for sure, and they’re outnumbered. Make no mistake, this is their last chance to hold onto power accumulated via unConstitutional means…and every one of those LEO signatories to that lawsuit violated their Oaths and need to be removed!

    They know that, once the shoe is on the other foot, after all we’ve been put through for decades, all the lives lost needlessly, all the families torn apart, careers destroyed, ad nauseum we’re in the mood to do some kicking.

    Scared people do desperate things, which usually turn out to be stupid things. Right on cue, right on cue…

  6. DonDig says:


    If SAM (or anyone) actually had a plan for a gentler way, (that didn’t violate personal sovereign rights), you’d think they’d have revealed it by now.

    This is not like an ad campaign where they’re tantalizing us before the unveiling of a super car or something.

    SAM just wants to delay the collapse of the prohibition empire.

    • kaptinemo says:

      Given how much their actions to maintain prohibition – which mainly benefits the drug cartels and the international bankster cartels – and how comparatively subatomic sums both of them are being paid for their Herculean, strenuous efforts to justify the unjustifiable, they must suspect by now that their position most closely resembles a military rearguard. Not a good position to be in.

      For the rearguard must fight advancing troops (reformers, with fixed rhetorical bayonets, with red eyes not attributable to weed, but righteous anger), and usually is cut to pieces in the process.

      In this case, they are poorly paid mercs/straight men in a thoroughly bad joke in which they are the butt of. The cartels and banksters couldn’t ask for more useful tools.

    • DonDig says:


      P.S. Kevin decries ‘Big Marijuana’ to protect the ‘Empire of Prohibition,’ choosing fascism over capitalism.

    • kaptinemo says:

      Sabet has had 9 years since he first broached the subject to come up with a ‘plan’ delineating his ‘third way’. So far, just vagaries, verbal nebulae and smoke from a nether region.

      9 years to come up with something, still can’t deliver, while wanting more time…and money, of course. Typical ONDCP stratagem. Evidently Kevvie’s picked up some baaaad habits from his erstwhile(?) Gub’mint days. Good thing no one was holding their breath.

      • primus says:

        I like the term ‘word salad’ for the gobbledegook they spew.

        • Cannabis says:

          Word salads are perfect for people who have a PhD, especially if you have been in governmental policy positions so you can provide access, as they lend an air of legitimacy to the lazy journalists in the media who have them on speed dial, like Kevin.

  7. Will says:

    Kevin’s evasive maneuvers were also on display in these segments from the VOX/German Lopez interview;


    German Lopez: Do you think more states should take up marijuana decriminalization?

    Kevin Sabet: I absolutely think we should remove criminal penalties for use. I absolutely think we should not be penalizing someone with an arrest record so they can’t get a job.


    [And then he turns all mushy]


    But I don’t like the term decriminalization, because it’s used interchangeably with legalization — even sometimes by the president and often by the media. But I haven’t been able to come up with a better word. Maybe some other people will.


    [He needs a better WORD!?]


    A lot of drug policy can be better explained when we actually describe the policies versus putting a label on them. Sometimes putting the label on something means that two people who agree on something end up disagreeing. I’ve seen that with a term like “harm reduction,” which is terribly defined but can put people in conflict even when they agree with 80 percent of the policies. [emphasis added]


    [But he doesn’t “actually describe the policies” that, according to him, are needed. It’s the labels he’s more concerned with]



    Kevin Sabet: In my mind, I’m okay, frankly, with a relatively nonviolent underground market, which is what the marijuana market is — most people get marijuana from a friend or grow their own, so it’s very different from the other drug markets. [emphasis added]


    [Here we go again. Unfortunately German Lopez does not ask Sabet, “But what happens, with cannabis still being illegal, when law enforcement discovers cannabis growing in a closet or intervenes during some of these relatively non-violent exchanges?”]


    Hopefully at some point, an interviewer will actually request that Sabet outline his position in full detail without allowing him to answer with his typical undefined social policy bullshit. At the same time, every time Sabet does not answer directly, he loses.

  8. darkcycle says:

    Kevvie is looking for any way at all to preserve prohibition. But it is starting to look like the legal status is all he’s really concerned with. To the point of endorsing decrim.
    Could it be the Point man for prohibition is ready to fold? I could live with Amsterdam rules, how ’bout the rest of you?

  9. claygooding says:

    I could care less what Kevin or Mark thinks and the world doesn’t seem too care much either,,his efforts too slowdown legalization in the US hasn’t impressed other countries that recognize what a state the size of CO having over $75 million dollars worth of pot.

    5 states,,several with legislated legalization bills are advancing,,however the legislated bills are meeting the lobby money resistance we expected.

    SAM is going to have a huge drop in support if they remove cannabis from Schedule 1,,pharmaceutical companies know what research will do to their profit protection scams,,and they will wage their biggest battle and spend like crazy trying to keep it.

  10. DdC says:

    He needs a better WORD!


  11. DdC says:

    Dalai Lama backs use of marijuana for medicinal purposes

  12. claygooding says:

    ^^^my new desktop

  13. Servetus says:

    Recent revelations that DEA agents were engaging in “high-risk sexual behavior”, i.e. relationships with prostitutes, is detailed here, in a 100-page pdf-file report.

    Some of the more scandalous details are summarized here. But the sex scandal isn’t the most revealing detail about the DEA agents operating in South America. It turns out that agents for the DEA are such unsophisticated, dumb brutes that “the DEA had the agents get etiquette training, including ‘fork and knife training’.”

    We would expect the DEA to recruit from the bottom of the barrel, but the fork-and-knife thing takes the DEA’s public relations image to a whole new lower level.

    I’m guessing the etiquette course was Michele Leonhardt’s idea. Who but Michele would be capable of undermining an entire government agency’s public image using the old table manners gambit?

  14. … “Whether the issue is civil asset forfeiture, warrantless surveillance, or armed government agents barreling through your front door at 4:30 in the morning, there is a strong case to be made that the drug war has mangled the Fourth Amendment beyond recognition.”… Adam Bates, CATO Institute blog

    This drug war is far more important than leaving it up to the likes of Sabet who doesn’t seem to realize the import of all this, or does not care – for his own unknown selfish reasons.

    The price of the drug war is too high. So is Kevin’s advice and opinions on it. The day has well passed where we can afford to tolerate any more drug war or drug war preachers like Sabet.

  15. Servetus says:

    Cliff Kincaid is at it again, this time claiming Obama was brainwashed to become a Commie while he was high on marijuana:

    I think he’s wacked-out in the sense that I think if we go back to his history, especially in Hawaii when he came under the influence of the Communist Frank Marshall Davis who was himself a dope-smoker and an alcoholic, Obama we know was a member of the ‘Choom Gang.’ He was a heavy marijuana user. That had to have an effect on him. Maybe it’s clouded him some way, it enabled Davis to brainwash him. Of course we know he was raised partly as a Muslim. These are the ingredients that went into the combustible material that we see in the White House today, and the whole thing is threatening to explode.

    • kaptinemo says:

      Crazier and crazier and crazier. I’d start wearing rain gear around them, and don’t get too close. That spittle and foam around their mouths looks awful suspicious.

      Alice? Alice! Where are ya, girl? Get in here, willya? You’re the only person who can talk to these loons!

    • DdC says:

      Marihuana leads to pacifism and communist brainwashing.
      ~ Harry J. Anslinger Gore File

      Marijuana leads to homosexuality … and therefore to AIDS.
      ~ Carlton Turner, Drug Free Florida
      An anti-marijuana group whose sole purpose is to oppose, and eventually defeat, any attempt to legalize medical marijuana. The head of the fledgling group of prohibitionists is a man named Carlton Turner, a 73-year-old creep who holds the dishonorable distinction of serving as a drug czar in the mid-80’s for then-President Ronald Reagan.

  16. kaptinemo says:

    OT, but important. A Historical first: Colorado officials defend marijuana legalization at U.S. Supreme Court

    Legalization defended by a State functionary. Anslinger must be grinding his ectoplasmic teeth in Perdition. While Jack Herer is laughing his arse off.

  17. Duncan20903 says:


    The rat bastards in Oregon have gotten Tom Burns fired. Even worse it appears that they had cause. I do hope that this doesn’t end with the citizenry in Oregon getting Kleimaned.

    Tom Burns fired as OLCC’s marijuana advisor for leaking document, lying, agency says

    Tom Burns, former marijuana policy adviser for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, was abruptly fired Thursday for sharing an internal policy document with a Portland lawyer and lying about it, agency spokesman Tom Towslee said Friday.

    Towslee said Burns shared a document with Amy Margolis that agency staff and marijuana industry representatives had worked on. Towslee emphasized that Margolis, who represents marijuana growers, “did nothing wrong.”

    Is it really all that hard to make it look like somebody in particular sent an email even if they did not? Of course I mean outside of the obvious methods of someone who knows his password or it being done by the system administrator. Without suggesting that Anonymous did this, wouldn’t they have the ability? I admit that I have only a scant basis to believe that this is totally out of character for the man but from what I know of him this really does sound farfetched.

    Yes, I have said many times that conspiracy theories almost always originate because of an inability to understand why something happened. So what’s your point? That’s precisely where this one originated. It just does not compute in my brain.

  18. Duncan20903 says:


    My comment is awaiting moderation? Just because I thought that tradition is the “big question” being “will you marry me?”

  19. Servetus says:

    Our current police state is a byproduct of the drug war. And here is what happens when your city invokes martial police tactics: “Police Implement New Policy to Treat Everyone as Criminals:

    Topeka, KS — March 26, 2015—Drivers as well as their passengers in Topeka Kansas will soon be subject to a new policy requiring everyone to put their hands up during police stops.

    Police say they are implementing this policy because “we all want to go home to our families, and this makes it safer for us to approach vehicles to gain that compliance. It gives us a chance to survive these encounters.”

    However, the implications regarding this practice are horrid, and many residents are up in arms about being forced to be up in arms.

    “Every day somebody’s getting shot by a police officer, and it’s like ‘oh my goodness, will I be next?’, or will I be okay?” said one resident.

    Local officers are citing the three tragic shooting deaths of officers in a two year period as the reasoning behind this policy.

    Oakland, California, had four police officers shot in one day, and the city didn’t implement a hands-up policy.

    Yes, whoever in Topeka, Kansas, doesn’t know the law, and doesn’t put up their hands, veell be shot. That means you, Dorothy. Oberführer Darryl Gates is smiling in his grave. Leave it to a dry state to implement a policing policy that favors the police and only the police.

    • Freeman says:

      …and the Nottingham-ing of Topeka is complete. Now, whenever the Sheriff’s highwaymen approach, it’s stick-em-up, or else…

  20. jean valjean says:

    This really is the smoking gun for Sabet’s true motives, namely to delay the end of prohibition for as long as possible thereby preserving the profits of his masters. I think it’s time we started using Kevin’s honorary title, “Lobbyist for Big Prohibition” every time his name comes up. He certainly has no problem invoking the specter of “Big Marijuana” at any and every opportunity.

    • Duncan20903 says:


      Don’t you think that it’s more accurate to say that Kev-Kev is pushing Big Addictionology?

      Oh wait a second those aren’t mutually exclusive. There’s no reason why he couldn’t push both. Actually all three…let’s not forget about Big Fat Lies.

      Carry on.

  21. Mr_Alex says:

    Kevin Sabet game over

    • DdC says:

      Big Prohibition

      A very lucrative hoax…
      A Trillion spent on the Ganjawar
      is a Trillion in the Pockets of Prohibitionists.

      J.E.B.Mel.Cal Fay.Carl.Kev.Fla.Addlebrains of Prohibition Inc.
      They’re selling postcards of the hanging. They’re painting the passports brown The beauty parlor is filled with sailors. The circus is in town Here comes the blind commissioner. They’ve got him in a trance. One hand is tied to the tight-rope walker. The other is in his pants. And the riot squad they’re restless. They need somewhere to go. As Lady and I look out tonight. From DEAtholation Row.

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