Marijuana Decriminalization ‘Supporter’ Opposes Every Decrim Bill | Marijuana

Marijuana Decriminalization ‘Supporter’ Opposes Every Decrim Bill


Marijuana legalization opponents know they’re losing the debate with the public and have begun to shift tactics, seeking to derail the end of complete prohibition by seeking compromise policies that maintain criminalization but take a somewhat kinder, gentler approach to enforcement.

Leading legalization opponent Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), for example, often says he doesn’t care if adults use marijuana in the privacy of their own homes and characterizes his opposition to legalization as way to stop a “Big Marijuana” industry from forming.

“This is about making a lot of money. This isn’t about your right to smoke pot,” Sabet, a former White House drug policy official, told Jon Ralston of KTNV in an interview this week about the legalization measure Nevada voters will decide on this November. “If it was, why wasn’t it written in a decriminalization manner? I’m ready to sign support with the ‘yes’ side on a compromise if they’re willing to drop their campaign.”

In addition to allowing personal possession, Sabet says he wants to provide people with a legal means of obtaining marijuana in the first place.

“You could grow a plant at home, actually. You could homegrow,” he said. “You could do gifting. You could do a kind of decriminalization where basically we turn the other way.”

But what Sabet didn’t say is that he and his organization have actually vigorously opposed policies that do exactly that.

In 2014, voters in Washington, D.C. overwhelmingly approved a ballot initiative that removed criminalization for personal possession of marijuana and cultivation of cannabis plants in private homes.

But Sabet, SAM and affiliated organizations vehemently campaigned against the measure, even though it did not allow for the commercialization of marijuana that he says is his primary concern.

This year in Vermont, prohibitionists opposed a compromise effort to decriminalize personal cultivation of a small amount of cannabis plants after it became clear that there were’t enough votes in the legislature to enact a full system of legal and taxed marijuana sales.

Sabet even touted a “coordinated effort” his “lobbyists” engaged in to defeat the proposals.

When Ralston of KTNV asked Sabet what, exactly, a “smart approach” to marijuana would look like, he said:

“A smart approach would not criminalize people for simple use. It would not throw them in jail. I mean, we don’t want to give people prison sentences. It would not hurt their record if they have an arrest when they’re 16 cuz they did the wrong thing and they didn’t have a good lawyer and it’s on their record so therefore they can’t get a job when they’re 25. That’s stupid. That’s not smart.”

But to date, SAM hasn’t pushed any legislative proposals of its own and has solely focused its efforts on defeating measures put forth by marijuana policy reform supporters, even those that fall directly in line with what Sabet purports to support.

That raises questions about whether he sincerely wants to remove the threat of criminalization for use, possession and home cultivation or if he just sees holding those things up as a possible “compromise” as a political tactic to defeat broader reform efforts.

And despite his best efforts to characterize himself as not ideologically biased against people who use marijuana, Sabet’s thinking does seem to adhere to “Reefer Madness” stereotypes.

“I call it the drop out drug,” he told Ralson. “You drop out of life when you’re smoking pot every day. You do. You drop out of life, you drop out of your obligations. You drop out of, frankly, work and school.”

Photo Courtesy of Allie Beckett.

About Author

Tom Angell covers policy and politics for Separately, he serves as chairman of the nonprofit organization Marijuana Majority, which works to ensure that elected officials and the media treat legalization as a serious, mainstream issue. Marijuana Majority led the effort to get the U.S. Conference of Mayors to pass a resolution telling the federal government to respect state marijuana laws, and orchestrated the first-ever endorsement for marijuana legalization by a U.S. Supreme Court justice (John Paul Stevens). Previously, Tom worked for Law Enforcement Against Prohibition and Students for Sensible Drug Policy. (All organizations are listed for identification purposes only.)


  1. Well done, Tom!

    Good to see someone calling Sabet’s lies out directly.

    Big Prohibition is the real enemy of The People.

    Legalize. Tax. Regulate. Educate. Reduce harm.

  2. Sabet is a liar and a parasite on the American people. He and his organization use fear and ignorance to defraud people that succumb to his lies of money they usually can’t afford.
    All he is interested in is money, and taking away the people’s freedom.

  3. Mike L. Wallace Jr. on

    Kevin Sabet is a flat out cold blooded evil satanic murderer . The head buzz sensation from marijuana is the regular brain functions slowing down as the energy is focused on building new brain cells / neurons . Every adult & child should be allowed to ingest fresh green raw marijuana with large amounts of all cannabinoids with every meal . Recreational marijuana PREVENTS Cancers , Diabetes , Alzheimer’s & that makes it medical .

  4. The Bible itself should stand good against there laws against Marijuana because Genesis chapter 1:28 states it is our God given right every seed barring plant and tree for food and also in there about Gods gives us all the Herbs of the field promised from God and made for us all through the holy word of God
    Read revelation 17 18 about adding or taking from Gods Word brings all the curses of the bible on them and could be blooted out of the book of life is it not bad enough that the Roman Empire Vatican’s FALSEHOOD COUNTERFEIT SABBATH SUNDAY DOCTRINES Changing Gods word and deceiving the world bad enough im telling all you evil control freaks you are all in big trouble for everything you have done against God and his people and his Creation you had better turn away from your evil elites control and fall on your knees because your time for slavery and lies and decite is coming to its terrible end and you will all be shaken into the evil pit you created for all if us it will back fire on you all

  5. Charles Godley on

    Kevin Sabet is someone I hope dies soon since I would like to spit and dance on his grave while smoking a joint. Michelle Leonhart is another I feel that way about. Damn them and their Nazi ways!

  6. Despite narrowly voting against legalized medical marijuana in November, Sunshine State residents now want lax weed laws Surprisingly, of those 55 percent, a majority of that number admits they still wouldn t use marijuana. Only 17 percent of those polled said they would definitely or probably take advantage of Florida s lax marijuana laws, while 81 percent admitted they still wouldn t get high even if they were allowed to.

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