Anti-Marijuana Project SAM Holding 4/20 Conference in Atlanta

Kevin Sabet's SAM I Am
Kevin Sabet's SAM I Am

Like the 2016 Los Angeles Rams, the so-called “quarterback” of the anti-legalization movement, Kevin Sabet, has only won a quarter of his contests. He’s gone 3-9 on statewide legalization initiatives* in the past four elections.

Smart Approaches to Marijuana Use… Except Legalization

Nevertheless, his group, Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana), believes it can turn the tide of 60 percent public support for marijuana legalization. In support of that mission, Dr. Sabet has announced a special “take back 4/20” event in Atlanta, Georgia, closing the annual National Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit being held April 17-20.

_MJMeme - Kevin Sabet Legalization Polls
Not a single anti-marijuana legalization poll in the past two years? Kevin, you’re slacking.

The Project SAM Marijuana “Education” Summit will be held Thursday, April 20, 2017, at The Westin Peachtree Plaza hotel in Atlanta, Georgia, in conjunction with the 6th Annual National Rx Drug Abuse & Heroin Summit. Dr. Sabet will be there, as well as Ohio Project SAM’s Tony Coder and Colorado Project SAM’s Ben Cort.

I’ve been in contact with the folks at Peachtree NORML in Atlanta. They tell me they have already planned a 4/20 celebration and that now part of that may have to include marching over to The Westin Peachtree Plaza to demonstrate at Kevin Sabet’s soiree. We should thank Dr. Sabet for picking a day when we are already mobilized and in the streets, rather than forcing us to motivate protesters on some other day.

The Drug Abuse Conference costs $695 for the chance to spend three days hearing mostly about the opioid crisis. However, on Monday, they are presenting a session called “Marijuana 101: Science-Based Messages and the Impact of Legalization in Colorado“. One of the presenters is Tom Gorman from the Rocky Mountain High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (RMHIDTA). You know it’s going to be chock full of legitimate information about cannabis when it uses “medical” in scare quotes to refer to it.

Reefer Mad Hilariously Inaccurate Data To Attack

In case you missed it, the RMHIDTA has been tracking the apocalyptic devastation wrought on Colorado since it legalized marijuana over four years ago. Here are their Top Ten Colorado Marijuana Abominations:

  1. Marijuana‐related traffic deaths increased 48 percent…
  2. Youth past month marijuana use increased 20 percent…
  3. College‐age past month marijuana use increased 17 percent…
  4. Adult past‐month marijuana use increased 63 percent…
  5. Emergency Department rates likely related to marijuana increased 49 percent…
  6. Marijuana‐related exposures increased 100 percent…
  7. Highway patrol yearly interdiction seizures of Colorado marijuana increased 37 percent…
  8. Seizures of Colorado marijuana in the U.S. mail has increased 427 percent…
  9. Crime in Denver and Colorado has increased…
  10. As of January 2016, there were 424 retail marijuana stores in the state of Colorado compared to 322 Starbucks and 202 McDonald’s.

Yes, this is the kind of marijuana scaremongering people are spending nearly $700 to hear these days. Let me save you some money and debunk these “alternative facts”, just in case someone in Atlanta wants them for a 4/20 sign.

  1. “Marijuana-related” means “somebody crashed and died and when we checked their blood, there was THC or metabolites in it”. Given that marijuana stays in your system long after you were impaired, this blood draw tells us nothing about marijuana’s culpability in the crash. A recent meta-analysis of cannabis and driving studies has found that drivers with THC in their system are no more likely to be a crash risk, if you account for age and gender.
  2. RMHIDTA is relying on one Colorado survey when several other sources proclaim the opposite – the youth marijuana use has not increased in Colorado to any statistically-significant degree.
  3. Wait, what?!? College kids, many of whom are over 21, smoke pot? Perish the thought! Yet it seems that public Division I universities in legal states achieve the same results as the same type of institutions in Georgia.
  4. Wait, what?!? When you make a substance legal for adults to use, they do? Who could have imagined! Yet it seems, at least among men, this has meant fewer suicides, fewer traffic fatalities, and fewer opiate overdoses.
  5. “Likely related to marijuana” means “somebody came into the hospital and when we asked if they use pot, they said yes, or when we checked their blood, we found THC or metabolites.” So, if you broke your leg skiing and the ER finds THC in your blood from the joint you smoked the night before, they call that “marijuana related”.
  6. “Marijuana related exposures” usually means a kid or dog that got into the medicated edibles. There was no telling whether more accidental exposures were happening or, now that they’re legal, people were less inclined to lie to poison control staff and emergency room doctors. The latest report from Colorado shows that accidental marijuana ingestion is down, perhaps thanks to new laws on packaging and dosage.
  7. When cops say they catch more weed more often, I’m reminded of fishing. Just because you caught two fish on Tuesday, then you caught twenty fish on Wednesday, does not mean there are more fish in the river. You may have just switched from a fishing pole to a net. Or maybe the weather is better. Or maybe you changed your bait. Or maybe you found a different fishing hole. Cops these days are better trained to catch stoned drivers, more directed to catch stoned drivers, and have a new 5 nanogram presumptive DUID limit to help convict stoned drivers. Catching more of them means catching more marijuana.
  8. Once you legalize marijuana in a state, postal inspectors are more inclined to be searching for marijuana in packages from that state. Shipping weed by mail from Colorado is nothing new.
  9. It’s quite a leap to think that legal marijuana leads to more crime, when legalization by definition erased the criminality of thousands of people in Colorado. And what a legal joint in Denver has to do with, say, a rape or a murder or a car-jacking, I can’t follow.
  10. Yes, but how many places are there in Colorado to buy a cup of coffee or a hamburger? It is dingenuous to be comparing all of the retail outlets that sell marijuana to one single retail outlet that sells coffee and another that sells hamburgers.

Stoners Must All Receive Treatment

For an additional $245, you can attend Dr. Sabet’s Marijuana “Education” Summit on Thursday, April 20. In addition to Mr. Coder and Mr. Cort, the head of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Nora Volkow, will be there as well.

What was it Dr. Volkow was saying recently about the lack of increased marijuana use by the youth after legalization?

“I don’t have an explanation. This is somewhat surprising,” says Dr. Nora Volkow, director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse, which commissions the annual survey.

“We had predicted based on the changes in legalization, culture in the U.S. as well as decreasing perceptions among teenagers that marijuana was harmful that [accessibility and use] would go up. But it hasn’t gone up,” she says.

“We’re seeing that more people in the U.S. except for teenagers are taking it,” Volkow says. “The rates of increases are highest among young adults 18-24, so one would expect that would translate to the adolescents, but apparently it has not.”

That’s right: people will be paying $245 to listen to marijuana “experts” who can’t tell you why their own predictions about marijuana legalization didn’t come true.

If you think that this whole thing is bogus and want to help us expose Kevin Sabet’s reefer mad lies, Peachtree NORML is fundraising for the $1,000 they’ll need to send an activist in undercover to record the marijuana summits. Email me at radicalruss at gmail if you’d like to help by contributing some money.


* Sabet’s record overall is 3-9, his only “wins” being statewide legalization losses in Oregon 2012, Ohio 2015, and Arizona 2016.

† I debated Kevin Sabet back in March of 2012 at Rice University:

‡ I debated Ben Cort in March of 2015 at Texas Christian University.

Russ Belville
About Russ Belville 187 Articles
Russ Belville - or "Radical" Russ, as he is known on-air - hosts The Russ Belville Show - The Voice of the Marijuana Nation, a two-hour live news and talk radio program for the cannabis community, weekdays at 3pm Pacific on RadicalRuss.com (learn more on our Podcast page).  The show is based in Portland, Oregon, but "Radical" Russ has traveled over 300,000 air miles in the past five years, bringing his show to report live from hundreds of cannabis conferences, marijuana expos, hemp festivals, and legalization events in over 50 North American cities.