Patrick Kennedy's Anti-Pot Crusade Conflicts With His Own Congressional Record

Must-read email exchange shows Kennedy backtracking on medical marijuana and more.

(Page 2 of 2)

Yesterday, I asked Project SAM to comment on the apparent dissonance between Kennedy's work in Congress and his role as an anti-pot crusader. A few hours later, I received a series of emails from Kennedy in which he defended his advocacy for the gambling industry, said his position on medical marijuana had "evolved over time," and suggested that the alcohol, gambling, and tobacco industries had donated to his campaign in order "to keep the door open to discuss their issues with me." 

"There is no contradiction," Kennedy said in his first email. "I am for mitigating effects of chemotherapy and if MJ helps - then I'm for it (btw THC doesn't need to be smoked to achieve this)." 

When I pointed out that he had once vigorously supported smoked medical marijuana, and the right of states to implement laws legalizing its sale, Kennedy replied, "As far as your general point that it doesn't look like my position on MJ has been consistent - you may have me because like many other issues, my political positions have evolved over time as I have learned more and then have the benefit of incorporating that new info into my political thinking as I have done in my position with SAM. "

On the specific question of why he supported the Hinchey bill, Kennedy wrote, "As a Rep there are usually many issues involved as I stated before that may not be apparent to the untrained eye. Bottom line is there is nothing nefarious as you insinuate in your questions."

On the question of gambling, Kennedy wrote, "My principal focus was Sovereignty for Native Americans to have same government revenue as the States they were in as provided under IGRA [Indian Gaming Regulatory Act]. As you may know - a Federally recognized Tribe in RI was the symbol for this when RI denied their rights to provide for their citizens even though the state had plenty of gambling revenue to support state education efforts but not the tribes."

I told Kennedy that I thought his argument for extending gambling rights to tribes made perfect sense. But I didn't understand why he was willing to expand legal access to a potentially addictive activity while in Congress but is opposed to doing so now. I also wanted to know why, if his advocacy was purely for Native Americans, did he receive tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from video poker machine company GTech Corp, which is not owned by Native Americans?

"G- originally a RI company," Kennedy wrote. "I was a RI rep in addition to being a leader on [Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act]. Is there a conflict between helping RI employer in gaming industry and being for better addiction treatment? Perhaps on one level but that level ignores the bigger picture."

While Kennedy didn't speak to more specific questions about donations from the alcohol and tobacco industries, he did write, "I took money from a lot of folks who knew my position of leadership on the 2008 Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act was uncompromising. Did they want to keep the door open to discuss their issues with me - perhaps."

Kennedy concluded our exchange with the following: "The debate should be about SAM not the circuitous route I took I arrive there. Real question is whether I'm heading in the right direction going forward or not. I am happy to have people debate me on this in fact I welcome it. This will make SAM a success whatever the ultimate policy becomes because at least we will be thinking before rushing forward with an answer that may not stand up under scrutiny." 

Less than 20 minutes after Kennedy sent his second (and final) email, Project SAM co-founder Kevin Sabet wrote me and said, "Patrick and I just spoke as he was taking off and he said this to me in addition to the below, to answer your questions directly." The answers he then provided read very differently from what Kennedy had written.

For instance, one Kennedy quote Sabet provided--"In Congress I received money from many different industries and used that money to advocate for the most comprehensive system of mental health parity in our country's history. These industries caused the mess we are in. Would we not think BP should pay for the Gulf Oil spill?"—doesn't sound anything like the defense of the gambling industry Kennedy had offered moments before.

For the sake of fairness and transparency, you can read the entire email exchange between Reason, Kennedy, and Sabet (with email addresses redacted) below. 

Read more Reason coverage of Project SAM.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Brett L||

    Bahaha! Taking drug policy advice from Pat Kennedy is stupider than taking marital advice from Donald Trump.

  • Jon Lester||

    Now that he's a private citizen, I guess he doesn't have to disclose his investments in Big Pharma.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Patrick Kennedy should be bludgeoned with a golf club.

  • ||

    I understand the ex-Mrs. Tiger Woods is still available...

  • Brett L||

    Tied up in a large automobile and driven off a bridge?

  • niobiumstudio||

    Lol "one-time prescription pill addict"? He has fallen off the wagon many, many times and was in and out of rehab several times - just a few years ago most recently.

  • Brandon||

    "Several-time prescription pill addict" just doesn't have the same ring to it.

  • R C Dean||

    "Occasionally-resting prescription pill addict", perhaps?

  • ||

    No one likes a quitter, RC.-)

  • H. Reardon||

    Rehab is for quitters.

  • niobiumstudio||

    I think that is the best option. While "one-time" may have a good flow, it is far too inaccurate to describe Kennedy... Possibly just "Prescription pill addict, who is currently taking a break, ..."?

  • sloopyinca||

    I'm sorry, but I think "one-time" is accurate here. He's been an addict only once...from the moment he took the first pill until right now.

    Or how about just using the most accurate: "Prescription Pill Addict Patrick Kennedy." It's not like that family can't use their deficiencies as a means to get votes anyway.

  • tarran||

    This seems a good time to bring up an issue.

    My High school's 25th reunion is coming up. One of the people who will attend the event is a newly elected congressman who is a member of the Kennedy dynasty and will be gladhanding us.

    I have a range of options, I could treat him with disdain, ignore him, join the crowd in praising him, mock him, or confront him with some issue from murderdroning to med marijuana.

    I'd be interested in your thoughts, since you guys will never face any consequence if I do what you suggest. ;)

  • Jon Lester||

    Bake brownies.

  • Brett L||

    Punch him in the nuts and scream, "More people died at Chappaquidick than 3 Mile Island!"

  • SIV||

    I'll second this.

  • Zeb||

    You need to think up something that seems polite on the surface, but is actually incredibly insulting and/or embarrassing and find a way to say it to him so that as many people as possible hear it.

  • Being Waterboarded||

    "Hello Mr. Kennedy! It really is a pleasure to finally meet you! I would like to commend you and your family for your fervent support of drug laws. These laws have been such a terrific means to keep blacks and other minorities off the streets and incarcerated where they belong. You can count on the very vocal support of my esteemed organization - which shall remain nameless, but is usually known by our three initials... heh heh. I look forward to seeing you at our upcoming meeting. To what address should I send the invitation?"

  • ||

    "Can I get a ride home?"

  • Aresen||

    Not if you are crossing any bridges.

  • R C Dean||

    This isn't really your show, so I would just go with ignoring him unless and until he tries to make it all about him.

    If he does that, then, by all means, make it all about him and his odious, nepotistic, criminal family.

    But I wouldn't blow up the reunion if he's willing to kind of low-profile it.

  • tarran||

    That's what the little spock on my left shoulder is telling me to do. The mccoy on my right shoulder is crying with rage that he will be treated a million times better than he deserves.

  • ||

    Meh. My take: Don't be THAT GUY unless he decided to be THAT GUY. He's a Kennedy for SOD's sake; it's not like your at a loss for rhetorical and invective ammunition.

  • ||

    Why the fuck would you ever in a million years go to a high school reunion? Are you retarded?

  • derpules||

    THIS, high school reunions are where all the former nerds who are now Walmart managers to parade themselves around the former jocks who are now Walmart cashiers.

  • ||

    Yeah, do not go to the reunion. That is one of the five or so decisions in my life that I had to spend the least time thinking about.

  • JW||

    If he could re-enact the reunion scene from Grosse Point Blank, it's be totally worth it.

  • derpules||

    Sounds like the opportune time for a good old fashioned SWATing!

  • sloopyinca||

    My serious suggestion is to give the limpest-wrist handshake you possibly can, and then be sure to interject yourself into every conversation he is having and claim to be a big supporter of his while giving the limp-shake to every other man there.

    When he decides to extricate himself from the situation you have put him in (no man respects someone with a limp-shake), you can reintroduce yourself to everyone and tell them they owe you one for getting the turd out of the punchbowl.

  • JW||

    None of the above.

    Fuck his wife. And maybe the daughter too.

  • T||

    So, apparently it's news that a Kennedy will change his positions out of venal self-interest?

    Dog bites man, indeed.

  • Lincoln||

    This is what happens when a congressman leaves his position and invests in rehabilitation services and pushes for drug court to mandate people into his programs.

  • niobiumstudio||

    Maybe he is pushing all of this as a condition of his most recent DUI? Maybe he got nicked with some oxys or something and this is part of his PTI?

  • The Late P Brooks||

    I'd be interested in your thoughts

    Ask him what his marginal tax rate is. And how much it costs him the trust to get it there.

  • Killazontherun||

    This just in. Patrick Kennedy involved in three car pile up. Now he is raging at other motorist, shaking his fist, clutching a bottle of Bacardi 151 in the other hand. In a fit of anger, he douses his body and lights himself on fire. Paramedics have arrived. They have him on life support, but he is still on fire, Chet.

  • sloopyinca||

    Is it too late to make a "Seal has been accidentally shot by the LAPD after being mistaken for Dorner after he was removed from the cabin" joke?

  • Killazontherun||

    Too late? How about too soon? It's only been since last Spring Seal has gone without Heidi's poontang.

  • ||

    **changes channel**

  • Killazontherun||

    That would not surprise me. Like Oscar Wilde said, 'One must have a heart of stone to read the death of little Nell without laughing. One must lack a soul to not enjoy the suffering of a Kennedy.'

  • RenkBooo||

    Sounds liek some pretty crazy stuff to me dude.

  • ||

    Lookit that much inbreeding does it take to produce that?

  • Brian from Texas||

    Seeing as how Kennedy's grandfather made millions smuggling whiskey across the Canadian border during Prohibition, I wouldn't be surprised to find him on the payroll of the Mexican Cartels in his fight to keep marijuana illegal.

  • Roderick||

    uptil I looked at the check of $6418, I didn't believe that my sister was realie earning money parttime on their apple labtop.. there mums best friend started doing this for only fifteen months and just took care of the dept on there home and got Smart ForTwo. we looked here, http://www.FLY38.COM

  • John C. Randolph||

    The one-time prescription pill addict

    I rarely support new legislation, but severe punishments for simple, aggravated, and egregious hypocrisy would make this world far better.


  • FlyingTooLow||

    I smoked my first joint in December, 1967, at the tender age of 21.

    Now, a mere 44 years later, I still smoke pot. I have never 'graduated' to 'harder' drugs. Nor, have I ever harmed anyone.

    I am living proof that this prohibitionist propaganda is a fallacy...a blatant lie.

    The worst experience I had with marijuana was spending 5 years in Federal Prison for a pot offense.

    While there, I watched armed bank robbers come and go in as little as 20 months.

    When I went to the parole board after more than 3 years 'behind the wall,' I pointed this out to the panel members. Their response: "You must understand that yours was a very serious offense."

    I laughed about that for another 2 years (as I still sat in prison)...then wrote my book:

    Shoulda Robbed a Bank.

    I would be honored by your review.

  • FlyingTooLow||

    The closest I have ever seen marijuana come to harming anyone was during an air drop. We brought in 1100 pounds from Jamaica and dropped it in a peanut field in middle Georgia. The bales were dropped from a small plane at 125 feet altitude. One of the bales, about 80 pounds, missed my compadre by only a few feet... but it surely messed up his truck.

    You can read about it in: Shoulda Robbed a Bank

  • Max||

    Thanks for the article. For info on people using voluntary Libertarian tools on similar and other issues worldwide, please see the non-partisan Libertarian International Organization @ ....

  • دردشة عراقنا||

    Nicest chat and chat Iraqi entertaining Adject all over the world

  • Thomas4||

    just as Alfred replied I am surprised that a mother can make $4084 in four weeks on the computer. did you see this page http://www.FLY38.COM

  • دردشة بغدادية||

    Nicest chat and chat Iraqi entertaining Adject all over the world

  • PatrickHenry||

    Is this the kennedy that crashed and almost killed someone in DC a couple of years ago or the kennedy that murdered MaryJo, or the first kennedy that made his girlfriend (while he watched) give a bj to his adviser in the White House pool (look it up libs)?

  • LifeStrategies||

    Seems that Patrick Kennedy, along with many other politicians, is actually a hypocrite. Doesn't honesty and sincerity count any longer? What happened to supporting the constitution?


Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Video Game Nation: How gaming is making America freer – and more fun.
  • Matt Welch: How the left turned against free speech.
  • Nothing Left to Cut? Congress can’t live within their means.
  • And much more.