Project SAM's Patrick Kennedy: "Treatment or Jail" for Pot Users


About five years ago, former Rep. Patrick Kennedy (D-R.I.) of those Kennedys cleaned up his act and got sober. No more drugs and booze. Good for him.

These days, Kennedy gets his kicks by pushing "treatment or jail" for pot users. He's part of Project SAM ("Smart Alternatives to Marijuana"), which is pushing back against the 58 percent of Americans who now believe that pot should be regulated in a manner similar to beer, wine, and alcohol. Bad for him—and the rest of us too, if he and his colleagues succeed in maintaining drug policies that have exacerbated every bad outcome they seek to ameliorate.

Here's a snippet from a recent NBC News story on Kennedy. Spoiler alert: It's pretty appalling stuff, full of the subject generalizing from his own failure to control or moderate his substance-abuse problems to recommendations of locking up folks.

Kennedy believes there is "an epidemic in this country of epic dimensions when it comes to alcohol and drugs." He'd like to treat it all, but he's convinced that the single biggest threat to America's mental health is free-market marijuana. So even as Democrats favor the legalization of pot—by a 34-point margin, according to the latest WSJ/NBC News poll—the scion of America's most famous Democratic family has broken ranks, criticized the White House, and aligned with the likes of Newt Gingrich to warn voters against trying to tax and regulate today's psychoactive chlorophyll.

"I don't think the American public has any clue about this stuff," says Kennedy, after welcoming guests with a choice of Gatorade or bottled water….

"The appetite for Americans to lose themselves is just…" Kennedy shakes his head and seems too pained to finish the thought. His six-week-old daughter was fussy the night before, and it was his turn to shush and pace. In the hallway, near a stairway to where his 20-month-old son is napping, there's a toy fire engine and Kennedy's eyes return to it again and again. Suddenly, he seems to be on the brink of tears.

"This is the stuff of life," he says, trying to explain his passion for drug policy, "so you bet I'm emotional about it."

Whole thing here.

I debated pot legalization with Kennedy a few weeks back on CNN. Details here. Watch below.