Despite Legalization, Foes Won’t Back Down

Voters are voting for marijuana more than they’re voting against it these days. Still, this has irked a number of people, and has even caused many of them to organize. Just like groups of marijuana smokers can range from a singular person sitting on the patio with a joint, to an amphitheater filled with thousands of stoned concert goers, the anti-marijuana movement breaks out in a similar fashion.

From politically-minded academics, to large international organizations, here is a look at some of the fiercest foes of the marijuana industry. Their diligence should not be underestimated, and what they would like to accomplish against the cannabis industry could spell real trouble for cannabis investors.

Kevin Sabet is one of the top anti-marijuana activists in the country, and has been called a “Culture Warrior Propagandist” by Alternet. According to Sabet’s website, he has a Ph.D. and M.S. in Social Policy from Oxford University and a Political Science Bachelor’s degree from Berkeley. Despite the lack of degrees in science and medicine, Sabet is the Director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida, where he is also an Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry.

Sabet is a controversial figure who likes to make outrageous claims about marijuana, to the ire of Dr. Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, author of the Alternet article. Aggarwal said flat out that Sabet is telling lies, and points out that while Sabet’s background is lacking scientific ethos, Aggarwal is not. Sabet likes to say there is no need to smoke marijuana, that the plant is mysterious (in spite of 15,000 scientific articles to the contrary, as Aggarwal noted), that it is becoming too powerful for people to smoke, it makes people dumber, and young people get addicted. Aggarwal does a thorough job of tearing down Sabet’s claims.

Sabet runs the public policy consulting firm Policy Solutions Lab, which consults with organizations inside and outside of the United States about illicit drug policy. Specifically for marijuana prohibition, Sabet co-founded Project SAM, which seems to give him the gumption to write op-ed pieces for large magazines and newspapers across the country.

According to Sabet on the Project SAM site, the legalization movement has the organization all wrong. Sabet said that Project SAM is “advocating a fresh approach that neither legalizes, nor demonizes, marijuana.” Sabet said on the site that the goal is to lower marijuana use without creating arrest records.

Project SAM might be a big anti-marijuana group in the country, but in the world, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime has expressed concern with legalization as well. In the wake of Oregon, Alaska and Washington, D.C., following Colorado and Washington state to legalize, Yury Fedotov, executive director of UNODC said he fails to see how this wave of legalization “can be compatible with existing conventions,” and promises to bring the issue up at a State Department meeting in Washington, D.C., next week, according to Newsweek.

Project SAM and UNODC are just a couple of agencies opposing marijuana. Smaller groups such as Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana like to highlight the negatives of legalization to show why it should not have occurred in the first place. In essence, CALM wants states to honor the Federal Controlled Substance Act, which places marijuana on the DEA’s schedule 1 of controlled substances, meaning it is a drug of abuse with no accepted medical use.

The moral of this story is that marijuana isn’t out of the weeds just yet. There are astute politicians who have infiltrated medical and psychiatric fields, such as Sabet, trying to mow it down. There is Sabet’s group who calls on other quasi-celebrities, like former congressman Patrick Kennedy, and conservative talking head David Frum to help rationalize away marijuana.

There are giant international organizations like the UNODC who look down on marijuana, who say they are going to talk to the State Department the way a Spanish teacher might say they are going to call a student’s parents about missing homework. And finally, there are groups like CALM that are made up of people who are just pissed off that marijuana is being legalized, and they want to preserve the status quo.

While marijuana is gaining popularity in society, these groups are formidable foes. Should any of them get their way, or even make just a little headway into their cause, it could create some real problems for investors, ultimately elevating the risk of investing in marijuana.



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