A Lot on Pot

This past Thursday, January 31st, our Community Coalition held a presentation informing parents, teachers, student, and other members of our community about the recent marijuana epidemic. The main speaker at this event was Kevin A. Sabet: an author, former advisor to three Presidential administrations, and President and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM). SAM, founded by Sabet and former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, is an alliance of organizations and individuals dedicated to instituting a health-first approach to marijuana policy. Ideally, SAM wishes that marijuana policies will be aligned with the scientific harms, and the commercialization and normalization of marijuana will further be eradicated.

In general, Sabet’s presentation was centered around SAM’s four pillars: awareness, prevention, reform, and research. His most impactful and emphasized focal points of the presentation were in regards to prevention and reform. The goal of prevention is to restrict the establishment of “Big Marijuana” companies that would market to teenagers and young adults, very similar to the Tobacco Revolution in 1918. These Big Tobacco companies that are expanding into the marijuana industry will make these products more accessible. Also, these businesses genetically modify THC, a chemical compound that is the main active ingredient in marijuana, in order to appeal to teenagers and young adults. For example, Juul products now have many different flavors that resemble fruits, drinks, and even our favorite junk foods. The other major component of SAM’s mission is to enforce legal reforms that include reducing the consequences of current drug policies, such as lifelong stigma due to drug arrests. Many people debate “legalization or incarceration,” but SAM believes that both choices are radical and compromise is necessary in order to satisfy these legislative reforms.

Throughout the presentation, Sabet emphasized how SAM is a bipartisan community, and each of his resolutions failed to include any political bias. Also, SAM has many state affiliates, including New York, and collaborates with many National Health organizations. In conclusion, informing the public with the science of today’s marijuana can generate an honest conversation in regards to legalizing marijuana.