Smart Approaches to Marijuana and a broad coalition of organizations working to prevent and treat substance abuse sent a letter today to the Democratic National Committee (DNC) ahead of their decision on their party platform, including marijuana policy. Former Representative Patrick Kennedy , Honorary Chair of SAM, who once chaired the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, signed the letter.
Faces and Voices of Recovery (FAVOR), the National Alliance of Alcohol and Drug Counselors (NAADAC), Treatment Alternatives for Safer Communities (TASC), Phoenix House, CeDAR and The Hills Treatment Center represented the recovery community in urging politicians not to legalize drugs.
“The DNC should resist any calls to legalize drugs,” said Kevin Sabet, a former advisor to the Obama Administration and current President of SAM, a bipartisan organization dedicated to implementing science-based marijuana-policies. “The legalization of marijuana is about one thing: the creation of the next Big Tobacco.
The letter details how legalization has resulted in huge spikes in arrests of Colorado youth from communities of color-up 29 percent among Hispanics from 2012 (pre-legalization) to 2014 (post-legalization), and up 58 percent among Black youth in the same timeframe-while arrests of White children fell. Additionally, there has been a doubling of the percentage of marijuana-related traffic fatalities in Washington in just one year after legalization (2013 to 2014). Emergency poison control calls related to marijuana from 2013 to 2014 in both Colorado and Washington rose, by 72 percent and 56 percent, respectively, and there has been a 15 percent average annual increase in drug and narcotics crime in Denver since 2014.
A draft of the platform could be interpreted by some as an endorsement of marijuana legalization and/or expansion. The specific wording, as shown in the letter to the DNC Chair and platform committee, is vague. (Although decriminalization and legalization are not the same thing, many people use these terms interchangeably.)
Parents Opposed to Pot wonders why marijuana, a major drug of abuse, would be promoted during the time of a drug epidemic. Another section of the platform addressed the opioid drug abuse, but refused to deal with the gateway effects of marijuana and alcohol and to educate accordingly. US government statistics show that at least 66% who overdose began their illicit drug use with marijuana.
Kevin Sabet explains the marijuana industry, “Marketers cleverly package pot candies to make them attractive to kids, and pot shops do nothing to improve neighborhoods and communities. Moreover, there are other, more effective ways to address questions of racial justice and incarceration. So does the DNC want to be known for fostering the next tobacco industry, or will it stand with the scientific community, parents, and public health?”
Major anti-drug organizations stand in unity with SAM and against all drug abuse and addiction. Executive officers of the Drug Free America Foundation (DFAF), National Families in Action (NFIA), Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA, Community Alliances for Drug-Free Youth (CADFY), the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), National Association of Addiction Professionals co-signed the letter, as did Dr. Robert DuPont, Founding Director of the National Institute of Drug Abuse (NIDA) and President of the Institute of Behavior and Health