So for self-interested reasons, who would you expect would be against Measure 91, an Oregon initiative that would legalize recreational marijuana?
Why, (1) law enforcement officials, because as long as marijuana is illegal, they have more lawbreakers in this state to justify their budgets; and (2) drug treatment staff, because so long as marijuana is (wrongfully) viewed as a dangerous drug, they have a larger pool of supposed drug abusers to justify their programs.
Currently polling is showing that Measure 91 likely will pass in the upcoming November election. Backers of the initiative recently announced a $2.3 million advertising campaign. The first ad features Richard Harris.
As the former director of the Addictions and Mental Health Services for the state of Oregon, he held the highest position in the state for directing drug treatment and addiction programs. He is volunteering with the campaign.
Pretty damn persuasive, yes? The head drug treatment guy in Oregon is all for legalizing marijuana. So are a majority of citizens in this state, it appears. Little organized opposition to Measure 91 has surfaced from within Oregon.
So what's left for the Reefer Madness crowd to do? How is the law enforcement and drug abuse lobby going to keep the illegal-marijuana gravy train rolling when solid medical research and public opinion are both against them?
Here's what they're going to do: bring in an out-of-state anti-marijuana legalization crusader, Kevin Sabet, and have him speak all around Oregon just before the election using taxpayer funds under the guise of an "Oregon Marijuana Education Tour."
Johnson, the chief petitioner for Yes on 91, says the tour appears to skirt campaign finance law, if not outright break it.
“It’s a misuse of federal taxpayer dollars to campaign against a state ballot measure days before people start voting on it,” he tells WW. “Calling this an ‘education campaign’ is preposterous, and if it is legal, it shouldn’t be.”
Not cool. Not at all. Hopefully this sleazy end run around campaign finance laws will backfire on Measure 91 opponents.
Kevin Sabet, the nation's most prominent crusader against marijuana legalization, will give a series of taxpayer-supported talks in 13 Oregon cities just weeks before the state votes on the issue.
That has marijuana legalization supporters crying foul. "It raises a lot of questions about federal tax dollars being used to interfere in a state election," said Anthony Johnson, chief sponsor of Measure 91.
..."Regardless of any mention of the ballot measure by name, it seems pretty apparent they are hoping to influence an election in Oregon using taxpayer dollars," said Johnson.
The Oregon Marijuana Education Tour flyer includes some evidence that the organizers realize how controversial having Sabet and a homegrown anti-marijuana legalization crusader, Clatsop County DA Josh Marquis, speak at these events is.
2-3 experts will be present to share factual information and answer questions for adults & age-appropriate youth. Code of Conduct: Any person disrespectful or disruptive to others will be asked to leave or will be removed.
I suspect that "disrespectful or disruptive to others" includes standing up during the Q & A period and challenging Kevin Sabet about the lies knowledgeable people say he's been telling about marijuana and its legalization.
Unlike Sabet, I have spent more than a decade training in the relevant disciplines he attempts to speak for. I’ve earned degrees in medicine and medical social scientific fields, not social policy like Sabet, and I feel the need to debunk his "moral entrepreneurship" that demonizes marijuana use and ignores scientific research that contradicts his drug warrior claims.
What follows are five claims from his list of talking points—fictions—followed by the facts.
Proving how political Sabet's "education tour" is, he came to Oregon in January to present his anti-marijuana legalization rant at an Oregon legislature committee hearing. Seth Crawford, a sociologist at Oregon State University, debunked his testimony in "Dr. Sabet goes to Salem."
Kevin Sabet appeared at 2pm today before the House/Senate joint judiciary committee to present his anti-marijuana legalization argument (his trip and presentation were paid for by the Oregon Narcotics Enforcement Association–highly ironic considering his persistent railing against the “big marijuana lobby”). I tried to talk to him after the presentation, but he essentially flipped me the bird and ran out of the capital. Very professional. During this presentation, he claimed (among other things) that:
(1) adolescent marijuana use rates have increased in states where medical marijuana is legal (he used data from a single state–Colorado–to support this claim),
(2) marijuana use rates will increase in states that legalize adult recreational use of the drug
(3) 1 in 6 adolescents who try marijuana will become addicted
(4) marijuana use is associated with declines in IQ
All of the above points are demonstrably invalid; furthermore, they are the result of an incredibly narrow and pernicious reading of the collected scientific evidence. My claim—that Dr. Sabet is willfully misleading his audiences while presenting these claims across the nation—is not new or novel, but my presentation of evidence demonstrating his inaccuracies is. [emphasis added]
So the "Oregon Marijuana Education Tour" is a joke.
It's a thinly disguised effort against Measure 91, using taxpayer funds in a decidedly unethical, if not downright illegal, attempt to sway Oregon voters to buy the long-discredited Demon Weed argument.
I hope some people are pleasantly disrespectful and disruptive to Sabet and his fellow anti-marijuana legalization speakers at these meetings. They need to be challenged, because the facts are not on their side.
Colorado and Washington have proved that legalizing recreational marijuana can be done responsibly and effectively. We don't need out-of-staters like Sabet touring the state on the taxpayer's dime, spouting falsities about marijuana.
Like I said, this "Oregon Marijuana Education Tour" should make more voters decide the time has come to stop the senseless war against an essentially harmless herb, not fewer. Vote for Measure 91 in November.
Support the marijuana legalization campaign in any way you can.