Medical Researcher: Anti-Marijuana Activist Is Dishonest

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director August 12, 2013

    In a country where it is increasingly difficult to find a living and breathing person willing to publicly debate in favor of maintaining cannabis prohibition’s status quo, one newly formed anti-marijuana organization and it’s primary spokesperson rightly lands in the crosshairs of medical researcher and cannabis policy reform activist Sunil Kumar Aggarwal, M.D. for conducting (from the time he was a college student-through his work at the Office of National Drug Control Policy-to now forming an anti-cannabis non-profit created to try to stem the ever-growing tide of public opinion in favor of legally controlling cannabis with regulations and taxation–not the brute force of the racially disparate, expensive and wasteful criminal justice system) a systematic and intellectually dishonest public relations campaign against cannabis.

    The newly formed anti-marijuana legalization group, Smart Approaches To Marijuana SAM (which appears to be an organ of big anti-tobacco concerns, with funding from insurance companies and community health trust funds) and it’s spokesperson Kevin Sabet get some white hot and antiseptic light cast in their direction at Alternet from a long vexed Dr. Aggarwal.

    Supplemental material about Kevin Sabet, notably his years attending University of California at Berkeley, is also published by The Center for Cannabis and Social Policy.

    60 responses to “Medical Researcher: Anti-Marijuana Activist Is Dishonest”

    1. andy says:

      Anti-marijuana groups are not a threat to legalization. The real threat comes from the pharmaceutical, tobacco, and alcohol lobbies. These are the most well funded lobbies in Washington and the biggest anti-marijuana advocates. They fear, for good reason, their profits will dwindle when marijuana becomes legal. We can’t expect to compete with the kind of money these groups provide in opposition to marijuana. Our best course of action is to stage PEACEFUL protests throughout the country until it is legalized. Either that or just keep talking about the issue for the next 5, 10, or 20 years and continue to be oppressed while nothing is accomplished. We can’t use their tactics, these groups are to powerful. Dialogue is a nice step, but its the bottom wrung of the ladder. We will never reach the top through dialogue alone. PEACEFUL protest is a great tool that seems to have been forgotten about in this country.

    2. AndThen??? says:

      Okay so what exactly happened? Did I miss something or did we just get a, ‘man you gotta here this story about …’ ……… crickets … I havent toked in a long time so I know I aint stoned but I sure as heck dont have a clue what just happened here. I read it and it seems the story stops before we get told anything of substance.

      Also gotta comment. I know NORML works very! hard but why is it other pro-cannabis news sites always have 10 times the number of stories about our cause than you do? I appreciate all you do for the legalization so please dont misunderstand but does anyone work the editorial department except Allen?

      [Paul Armentano responds: NORML is an educational, legal, and lobbying organization — not a news site. If you are simply looking for the latest, most relevant marijuana-specific headlines, you should scan NORML’s facebook page, not the blog. NORML also engages in media outreach to publish more op/eds calling for the need to reform marijuana laws in mainstream media venues than any other like-minded reform organization. For instance, in the past week alone, NORML-authored opinion pieces appeared in:
      CNN — http://edition.cnn.com/2013/08/09/opinion/st-pierre-armentano-marijuana/index.html
      The Boulder Daily Camera — http://www.dailycamera.com/guest-opinions/ci_23831436/guest-column-marijuana-regulation-combats-teen-use
      The Washington, DC Daily Caller — http://dailycaller.com/2013/08/08/medical-marijuana-efforts-soldier-on-without-congress-help/2/
      The Huffington Post — http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paul-armentano/want-to-protect-kids-from_b_3709338.html
      The Vacaville (CA) Reporter — http://www.thereporter.com/letters/ci_23793007/dispensary-rules-long-overdue
      The Vallejo (CA) Times Herald — http://www.timesheraldonline.com/opinion/ci_23789388/story-needlessly-stoked-pot-fears%5D

    3. andy says:

      Anti-marijuana groups like this are no threat to legalization. The real threat comes from pharmaceutical, alcohol, and tobacco lobbies. These are the most powerful lobbies in Washington and are some of the biggest proponents of anti-marijuana legislation. We can’t expect to defeat these lobbies using their tactics. Simply talking about the issue isn’t going to solve it. PEACEFUL protests until legalization has been achieved is our best option. Dialogue is a good step, but it is the bottom wrung of the ladder. We will never reach the top through dialogue alone. PEACEFUL protests are a great tool that has been lost in this country.

    4. Demonhype says:

      What I don’t get about these tobacco and alcohol companies fighting marijuana reform is this: can’t they cash in themselves? Come on, even if people “can” grow their own, not everyone is going to be able to do so. Not everyone will have the proper environment, and some people just don’t have much of a green thumb. My mom and I keep buying bamboo that dies, for example! And some people are just not going to want to do that–remember, we live in a lazy country in many ways, and there are plenty of people who would rather go to the store and buy pre-grown, pre-cut, pre-rolled MJ cigs rather than do the work themselves. And not everyone is going to stop using tobacco in favor of MJ, but considering MJ is so much cheaper and easier to produce they could easily be adding MJ products to their lineup and make a bundle–and even better, since MJ is so much safer and healthier than the garbage cig companies are already hocking, they’d improve their image by not selling a poison that kills most of its customers. And make better money because they’re not killing their customers.

      And you can’t tell me alcohol companies can’t come up with some kind of non-smoking MJ product, some MJ-type drinks. Not to mention that from what I’ve heard, people often smoke MJ while consuming alcohol, so they don’t even have the same worry of the tobacco companies that people are going to eighty-six their product in favor of another.

      Just like coal and oil companies with renewable energy, these industries could really clean up by getting on the right side of history, supporting what’s right, and jumping in on the ground floor. In the short term, they’re cleaning up I’m sure, but that won’t last since they no longer have the support of the majority of the people, and with every ninety-year old who dies they lose more votes and more support. In the long term, they could gain so much more if they stopped the foolish tantrums and the lying and got with the program.

    5. Robert M says:

      Now that we have momentum in the crusade to legalize Marijuana, anti Marijuana groups will be cropping up like dandelions* on a summer day. It’s only natural. The embarrassing part for them is that they are still relying upon pseudo-science and propaganda while real scientists are discovering the many positive uses for this interesting plant. And the beauty part? These studies are readily available to anyone seeking to advance their knowledge and understanding of Marijuana, thereby further discrediting the “anti” contingent. Sweet. So these anti groups play a much needed role in keeping the discussion alive and well.
      It was never going to be a cakewalk. We always knew there would be blowback. The pendulum will continue to swing as it always has. But we’re really close now. It has entered the public domain and is under discussion all over the planet and this is a good thing. Upward and onward.
      * Respect to dandelions which actually have medicinal value.

    6. JJ says:

      Hey Norml, I just have a question since there are sooo many stories comparing the use of weed to “neglectful supervision” in regards to reasons for DHS or HHS or DFS to take our children away for smoking or growing marijuana. Most of the stories I have read always ask about why we allow alcoholics to raise children “legally” but not us pot smokers. My question- Was there any case or situation in alcohol prohibition era where they took the children away from alcohol consumers and/or producers? I would really like this question answered for the next time I am writing Steve King. Thank you all!

      [Editor’s note: Child Protective Services in general didn’t exist during Alcohol Prohibition, nor did police arrest parents who drank or possessed alcohol (which was legal under Alcohol Prohibition, with only sales being banned).]

    7. Cat Cassie says:

      I think Sabet is just a sore loser. We are winning and he can’t stand it. He will whine and cry to the bitter end of cannabis prohibition. Keep the momentum going. We are getting closer everyday.

    8. Dave Evans says:

      “Anti-marijuana groups like this are no threat to legalization. The real threat comes from pharmaceutical, alcohol, and tobacco lobbies. These are the most powerful lobbies in Washington and are some of the biggest proponents of anti-marijuana legislation.”

      Yeah… Uh, no. These groups lobby for a lot more than keeping weed illegal. When they do, it is more of a PR thing, playing nice with the powers that be. They don’t make money on prohibition. Drugs testing companies do, not drug companies. People will still need plenty of drug, marijuana is not going “cut into their profits”. How exactly would it do that??? At most marijuana works for about 1/3 of the population, most people don’t like it. People that don’t like marijuana, aren’t going start liking it because is no longer illegal.

      Also, illegal marijuana is holding our whole economy hostage! Because it is illegal, it costs way too much. Money marijuana people would be spending on the economy is instead just going to marijuana. Making such a useful plant illegal is helping to kill the economy because we’re not buying stuff–we’re either getting kicked off our jobs, sent to jail, hiring legal representation–all this money swirling about in the toilet of prohibition instead of fueling our economy.

      Sure, there are a lot of thieves making money from prohibition; but *the rest of the economy* would like for prohibition to go away so they can finally make real profits. Prohibition of marijuana is robbing from Peter to pay Paul—it has short circuited billions of dollars out of our economic future.

    9. chunk says:

      I am constantly amazed at how some people can tell the truth in a way that is misleading. This man seems to be a master at it. I think we should give him a taste of his own medicine.

      Recently a story aired about a young patient with seizure being helped by medical marijuana. Now I can see why Gupta endorsed this and i can see why said endorsement could be seen as threatening to an organization such SAM. However mr. sabet may have made a mistake. During his response to the Gupta Reversal he compares the marijuana concentrate used by the young girl to morphine, which by his standard is a legitimate medicine. Also said oil is an extract of the whole cannabis plant so wouldn’t his acceptance of this oil be inconsistent with is stance on keeping marijuana as schedule I drug.

      While i wanted to draw attention to these thing i think what we should do with this tid bit of information is make our own new titles that have the same half truth elements that he so skillfully displays. My suggestions are “Sabet compares morphine to Hash oil” or “Sabet unclear on marijuana scheduling stance”. I think it would serve him right to be put under the micrscope by misleading but honest information

    10. Veri Tas says:


      Protest marches haven’t accomplished anything much of value in recent decades…. The only way to change the world is to extricate ourselves from the matrix. Just smoke pot if that floats your boat… but don’t buy (into) any of the goods and services, ideals, dictates of the powers that shouldn’t be.