This "Science-Based" Anti-Marijuana Group Is Fighting Legalization

SAM argues that weed is potentially addictive, definitely harmful, and does not really contribute to the disgrace that is our prison system.

by Kastalia Medrano
Getty Images / Justin Sullivan

Kind of like with marriage equality, the opposition to legalization of marijuana is often so loud it’s easy to forget that the majority of Americans actually support it. And with marijuana, a drug whose overdose fatality rate continues to be zero, the trend holds broadly true that if you believe in science, you probably don’t believe weed is the worst thing in the world (so-called “fake weed” is much, much worse.) So why is there a group fighting marijuana legalization and using science as a platform?

Smart Approaches to Marijuana, the coalition founded by former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy, a former drug policy advisor Kevin Sabet, and David Frum of The Atlantic, has raised more than $2 million in funds to fight upcoming California legalization measure Proposition 64.

It claims to fight “Big Marijuana,” an entity it compares to Big Tobacco, and refutes the common arguments such as marijuana not being addictive and that marijuana users are needlessly clogging the prison system (it would seem that, respectively, marijuana is indeed addictive, and that it is “far from the truth” that too many people are in prison for petty possession charges.)

“It is putting our children at risk and has exposed children from communities of color to more racial discrimination than before,” Kennedy said of California legalization in the Los Angeles Times.

In addition to rebutting the claims about addiction and the prison system, SAM says that more research is needed before we can declare smoking marijuana to have medicinal benefits (“we don’t smoke opium to get the benefits of morphine”) and even goes so far as to say that, contrary to popular belief, the drug can cause both mental illness and lung cancer. It tackles another angle favored by legalization proponents — that rendering the drug taxable benefits the economy — by saying that any benefits would be canceled out, “and then some,” by a corresponding rise in public health costs.

SAM further clapped back to its own proposed idea of how the opposition talks — “I just want to get high. The government shouldn’t be able to tell me that I can’t.” — by somewhat bizarrely emphasizing how hard Big Marijuana is marketing its products to children:

“Cannabis food and candy is being marketed to children and are already responsible for a growing number of marijuana-related ER visits … Edibles with names such as ‘Ring Pots’ and ‘Pot Tarts’ are inspired by favorite candies of children and dessert products such as ‘Ring Pops’ and ‘Pop Tarts.’”

“Moreover, a large vaporization industry is now emerging and targeting youth, allowing young people and minors to use marijuana more easily in public places without being detected.”

Hide your “Ring Pots,” guys.

Related Tags