HELENA — The Obama administration adamantly opposes legalizing marijuana and has a dubious view of medical marijuana, a top White House drug policy adviser said here Thursday night.
Kevin Sabet, special adviser for policy at the White House’s Office of National Drug Control Policy, said marijuana is a dangerous drug that causes documented health and social problems, and should not be subject to voter approval for its use.
“Marijuana cannot be the one exception in history of the world that doesn’t go through a scientific process to be approved as medicine,” he told the Montana Supreme Court Administrator’s annual drug court conference in Helena. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
You mean like aspirin? That drug has been with us since 1899 and never had to go through a scientific process to be approved as medicine. According to Derek Lowe, a Ph.D. organic chemist who worked for years in pharmaceutical research and development, cannabis would have an easier time clearing FDA scrutiny than aspirin:
If you were somehow able to change history so that aspirin had never been discovered until this year, I can guarantee you that it would have died in the lab. No modern drug development organization would touch it.
Its use more or less doubles the risk of a severe gastrointestinal event, which in most cases means bleeding seriously enough to require hospitalization. Such incidents, along with others brought on by other oral anti-inflammatory drugs, are the most common severe drug side effects seen in medical practice.
It doesn’t take too long to see these effects in a research program. Aspirin causes gastric lesions in rats and dogs, which are the standard small and large animal models for drug toxicity. This side effect occurs at levels which would raise red flags for any new compound.
Yet we use aspirin every day. It isn’t even on the schedule of controlled substances. You can overdose and die on aspirin. Marijuana is less toxic with fewer side effects than aspirin and has been used throughout history as long as aspirin.
“How can we imagine that a dangerous, illegal drug like marijuana should be voted on by the people?”
We don’t have to imagine; it’s already happened in nine states and the District of Columbia. None of those states has proposed initiatives to repeal their medical marijuana programs; in fact, the earliest states to adopt medical marijuana have found it safe enough that they are looking to legalize its use for all adults. This development hasn’t been lost on Sabet, either:
Sabet said he believes medical marijuana programs are part of a strategy to legalize marijuana, and that the Obama administration is staunchly opposed to legalization.
This is the old “Trojan horse” argument. We prey upon people’s compassion to legalize for sick people, then the next thing you know, we’re legalizing marijuana.
Does Sabet even realize that by making that argument, he’s tacitly acknowledging that after people are exposed to legalization for medical use, they will approve legalization for personal use? He’s basically saying the only way the government can hope to keep marijuana prohibited is to arrest cancer patients who smoke a joint to ease the pain and nausea of chemo.
Because even when we legalize for medical use, we still have to get 50%+1 voters to approve of personal use. Sabet knows that when marijuana is completely forbidden, enough people will be ignorant of marijuana to scare them with reefer madness. But if some people are allowed to use marijuana as medicine, more people learn about the safe, effective, non-toxic natural herb and are less inclined to believe reefer madness. Especially after over a decade in the earliest medical marijuana states as time has gone by and psuedo-legal marijuana hasn’t caused the sky to fall.
“Our two legal drugs, tobacco and alcohol, serve as frightening examples of legalization,” he said. “Look at the alcohol industry. It does not make money off the 10 people who drink one drink a week. It makes money off of the one person who drinks 50 drinks a week. Addiction is incentivized in this business.”
Then why isn’t Sabet and the Obama Administration arguing for a repeal of the 21st Amendment? Or at least severe restrictions on the alcohol industry? Like, say, no advertising on television? Nope, apparently when it comes to alcohol and tobacco, we’ve got no urge to lock people up. We accept a certain amount of mayhem and disease to allow adults the free choice to use those substances.
Sabet also said legalization proponents have created a “false dichotomy” by suggesting the only alternatives are legalization or a harsh, punitive approach that emphasizes incarceration.
Those aren’t the only options, and the Obama administration favors an approach that pairs treatment with law enforcement, to reduce illegal drug usage and addiction without sending people to prison, he said.
In other words, they prefer to label all pot smokers as “addicts”, use the force of criminal proceedings to compel these “addicts” to a treatment they don’t want or need, often with strict conditions requiring the “addict” to complete the treatment, the threat of imprisonment always in the mix.