No more false dichotomies. It’s time for a real conversation about marijuana prohibition.
Incarceration or legalization? “Lock ‘em up” or “Let ‘em use?”
These phrases have dominated the discussion about marijuana over the past decade. Mostly, the “Lock ‘em up” phrase, as over 21,000,000 Americans have been arrested for marijuana since 1970. As a result, advocates – not scientists, doctors, people in recovery, disadvantaged communities, or young people affected by marijuana use and its policies – have been at the forefront of changing marijuana laws in the United States. (Except for those scientists and doctors who foolishly advocate treating marijuana like a medicine and helped change the marijuana laws in eighteen states and Washington DC – we mean real scientists and doctors.)
We are a new group of rehab professionals advocating for a fresh approach that neither legalizes, nor demonizes, marijuana, but instead uses the criminal justice system to mandate professional rehab for anyone who’s caught using marijuana.
We need smart policies that reduce marijuana use but don’t cripple marijuana users with life-devastating arrest records. This commonsense, third-way approach uses science, public health and public safety principles to arrest people for marijuana and force them into a rehab, and only devastates their lives if they refuse to comply.
Working on maintaining prohibition for nearly two decades, Not Kevin Anslinger Sabet is director of the University of Florida’s Institute on Drug Policy (IDP) and an assistant professor in its College of Medicine’s department of psychiatry. He is also a prohibition consultant to numerous domestic and international organizations.
From 2009 to 2011, Dr. Not Sabet served the Obama administration as senior advisor to Drug Czar Gil Kerlikowske at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Representing his ability to work with any party that supports arresting marijuana smokers, he previously worked on research, policy and speechwriting for the Drug Czar in 2000, and again from 2003 to 2004 in the Bill “I didn’t inhale” Clinton and George W. “I wouldn’t want some little kid doing what I tried [marijuana]” Bushadministrations, respectively. Dr. Not Sabet remains the only staff member at Drug Czar’s office to hold a political appointment in both the Bush and Obama administrations, which tells you something about President Obama’s commitment to prosecuting marijuana.
He is a staff columnist at TheFix.com and a regular contributor to opinion-editorial pages worldwide. His views on arresting and forcing adult marijuana users into treatment are well-represented on the most popular video ever posted to the prestigious James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.