cross posted at mLaw

As America steps confidently and comfortably into the post-prohibition era there are some who have apprehended the consequential demise of the cultural custodian/law enforcement industry that blossomed over more than eighty years of cannabis prohibition. While cannabis-ists and capitalists have celebrated the bold step that Colorado has taken to allow adults to consume cannabis for recreational use, prohibitionists are sounding the alarm that America is doomed.

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Kevin Sabet, the resident social scientist at the anti-legalization policy workgroup Smart Approaches to Marijuana that was organized by high profile drug warring prohibitionists from both parties (former democratic congressperson Patrick Kennedy and former speech writer for George W. Bush David Frum) penned an op-ed that was placed in the Washington Times recently that deploys scary conflations, manipulated statistics and veiled threats of the end of America as we know it decrying Colorado’s experiment. There was a time when Sabet’s finger wagging and apoplectic scare mongering found a ready audience. In early February 2014 the same old-same old anti-cannabis rhetoric sounds a bit like Anslinger styled reefer madness mongering.

In the first lines of the piece, “Colorado Will Show Why Legalizing Marijuana is a Mistake”, Sabet lunges toward the propagandist’s friend false equivalency saying that “as far as we know” the first weeks of cannabis being sold like alcohol in Colorado did not include incidents of “bloody fistfights among people waiting in line” and “no burglaries or robberies” – yes, Kevin we know that crack addicts commit crimes to support their addictions and boozed up dumbasses present local law enforcement officials with daily challenges at sporting events, bars and in the homes of battered wives across America…but cannabis? Will the next comparison be that which was presented to Congress in 1937 by Henry Anslinger the first head of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics?;

“There are 100,000 total marijuana smokers in the US, and most are Negroes, Hispanics, Filipinos and entertainers. Their Satanic music, jazz and swing, result from marijuana usage. This marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others.”

Heavens, America may not be capable of withstanding the onslaught of tie-dyed wearing dead-head fist-fighters committing burglaries across the Centennial State now that the pernicious experiment is underway.

Sabet goes on to attempt to get the villagers all exorcised because “Multimillion-dollar private investing groups have emerged and are poised to become, in their words “Big Marijuana.” Really? I ask you dear reader, when was the last time in the brave and altruistic press in America you have seen the threat of moneyed industrialists scooping up an entire market to make boatloads of cash described as anything other than “the American way” and celebrated in an unqualified fashion as an example of pure American god gifted patriotic market manipulation?

Mr. Sabet, while I personally agree with you that big biz coming into small markets and destroying long-time local small family run businesses with the assistance of bought-off local officials that drives down wages and is antagonistic to collective bargaining and limits our product choices to plastic disposables manufactured by modern-day slaves is destructive and threatens the American economy (see WalMart), I actually don’t remember you saying anything of note with regard to the development of the private prison industry in America over the past years (during the years of cannabis prohibition). You know, those mega-corps who get no-bid cost-plus contracts to house the human debris of your drug war. Contracts that require that these private prison facilities are stocked full of humans, including the victims of America’s racist drug war…you may refer to the biz as “Big Prison”.

Sabet also points out (using another propagandist tactic- attempting to associate his point of view with an honored institution) that the American Medical Association “has come out strongly against the legal sales of marijuana” Well Kevin, the AMA also has “come out strongly” against universal health care, contradicting the humane and cost-saving practices of every industrialized country on the planet (excluding the US) who provide health care to all of their citizens irrespective of their income…you know, Kevin, as in humanity.

The social scientist, out of genuine concern I am sure, is especially keen to inflame the passions of his audience informing them that they may be “shocked to hear that, according to the National Institutes of Health, one in six 16-year-olds who try marijuana will become addicted to it” Now, now Kevin, put down that Red Bull. While it is true that Americans’ addiction to tobacco leads to 400,000 deaths every year and alcohol addicts kill tens of thousand of innocents on America’s roads every year, you know Dr. Sabet that medical researchers say that cannabis is as addictive as caffeine – the killing drug that powers such deadly concoctions as Coca-Cola and that Starbucks espresso that you may have consumed as you prepared to write this op-ed.

The real danger behind the small-d democracy experiment to legalize cannabis for adults to use recreationally in Colorado is revealed by Sabet when he confides, “We can expect criminal organizations to adapt to legal prices, sell to people outside the legal market (e.g. kids) and continue to profit from other, much larger revenue sources, such as human trafficking.” So…legalizing cannabis for personal use by adults in America will somehow contribute to an increase in human trafficking? What the hell are you smoking, Sabet?

Feigning concern for us all Sabet asks, “Why do we have to experience a tragedy before knowing where to go next?” when considering the Colorado experiment. Here Sabet employs, embarrassingly, a shop worn tactic used by luddites and religious extremists for centuries; this change we speak of will only bring tragedy, we know that now – fear this change, fear our future, fear the truth. I wonder if Sabet thinks that providing relief and cures to patients who are suffering today from horrible diseases like cancer, MS and Parkinson’s disease is a kind of “tragedy”? I wonder if Sabet has the capacity to consider the very real tragedy in millions of families where a brother or sister was arrested for possessing cannabis for personal use and now cannot become a lawyer, a doctor or president of the United States because of their criminal record?

Witnessing the lengthening of the already long shadows on the blackened tarmac of America’s drug war, the sun finally setting on the despicable, anti-science, human misery creating and racist war on cannabis, Sabet bleats the warning; “Voters in other states should watch Colorado closely and engage in a deep conversation about where they want this country to go.” I do agree with the good doctor on this point…watch Colorado, think about the possibilities for our future, and follow, America.

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