Civil Liberties

A Group of Drug War Profiteers Are Asking Eric Holder to Stop Legal Pot in Colorado and Washington


CORRECTION: Kevin Sabet, co-founder with Patrick Kennedy of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, writes to say

The Smart Colorado on our letter is not the Smart Colorado affiliated with Mel Sembler. This one is a newly formed group that formed and had a soft launch at our big Jan 10 SAM launch, and its head is Bob Doyle, a well known anti-tobacco advocate in Colorado. Same name, confusing I know. But definitely 2 different groups. They are our affiliate in Colorado.

ORIGINAL ARTICLE: A coalition of interest groups whose members profit off marijuana prohibition, including the former leader of a chain of abusive teen rehab centers, have sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder demanding that the Department of Justice prevent Colorado and Washington from taxing and regulating marijuana.

"We are writing to you to enforce the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in Colorado and Washington with respect to recent ballot measures legalizing marijuana," reads the letter, which was written by former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-Rhode Island) on behalf of the National Narcotic Officers Association Coalition, the National Association of Drug Court Professionals, Mel Sembler's Smart Colorado, and several other groups. 

Kennedy's letter to Holder goes on to say

These state laws would severely threaten public health and safety goals, expressly contradict the President's National Drug Control Strategy, make it impossible to comply with federal regulations, and present an obstacle to the achievement of Congress' discernible objectives to prohibit the use, sale, manufacture, and distribution of marijuana.

We urge you to restate marijuana is illegal.The Washington and Colorado state laws, authorizing retail and commercial sales of marijuana, marijuana smoking, marijuana possession, manufacturing and distribution, and the farming of industrial hemp, violate both the intent of Congress in enacting the CSA and the letter of the law. 

The Department of Justice and Congress have determined through the CSA that marijuana is a Schedule I drug and as such growing, distributing, and possessing marijuana in any capacity, save a federal research program, is in "violation of federal law regardless of state laws permitting such activities."

Marijuana remains a leading reason kids are in treatment today, and is a leading cause of car crashes among impaired individuals – surpassing alcohol in many states. Its abuse isdirectly linked to mental illness and IQ deterioration.  The negative impacts of legalization of marijuana are substantial.

We advocate for an education-oriented strategy to prevent marijuana use, with focus on early intervention and treatment of addiction as a health issue.  We also need to make sure those in recovery are not stigmatized for their addiction.  State laws legalizing marijuana would severely hamper our ability to act in the interest of public health. We urge you to swiftly and publicly declare these state laws illegal.

Last month Kennedy became the figurehead for Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a new anti-legalization group founded (and run) by former Office of National Drug Control Policy advisor Kevin Sabet. The group, which features David Frum as a board member, has released a list of policy prescriptions that it says straddle prohibition and legalization. One proposal is that anyone caught possessing marijuana be "subject to a mandatory health screening and marijuana-education program"–an idea that marijuana advocates see as "forc[ing] marijuana consumers into treatment and subject them to mandatory 'marijuana education' camps."

See the correction above regarding Sembler and Smart Colorado. Sembler, who ran a chain of abusive teen rehab centers in the 80s and 90s, and now makes money off mandatory drug testing, gave $250,000 to fight Amendment 64 in Colorado. His wife runs the Drug Free America Foundation, which released a video in October 2012 implying George Soros is a satanist. The head of the National Narcotic Officers Association Coalition, meanwhile, has testified that liberalizing America's drug laws–even those restricting marijuana–"will make the loss of life from the September 11th attacks pale by comparison."   

See the original PDF below: 

Patrick Kennedy's Letter to Eric Holder Demanding a Response to Legal Pot by