The DC Swamp Creatures Still Pushing the Failed, Authoritarian War on Cannabis


Meet Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), an anti-weed lobbying firm headquartered, of course, in Alexandria, Virginia, on the outskirts of DC.

Like Don Quixote fighting windmills, this band of well-funded swamp creatures continues the failed moral crusade against marijuana. And, not coincidentally, they also make a nice living for themselves in the process.

Somehow, in 2021, these people still insist they have some moral obligation to protect US citizens from themselves as if cannabis use is really the issue de jour that deserves public attention (not rampant homelessness, unchecked Wall Street cronyism, or an imploding economy).

The Drug War Is an Unwinnable Proposition (Except for the Pro-Prohibition Industries That Benefit)

The Drug War is an ineffectual waste of resources. No appreciable decline in illicit drug use has occurred since it began, despite the trillions of dollars spent:

“Prohibition is not only ineffective but counterproductive, at achieving the goals of policymakers both domestically and abroad. Given the insights from economics and the available data… the domestic War on Drugs has contributed to an increase in drug overdoses and fostered and sustained the creation of powerful drug cartels.”

The evidence of the DEA’s, ATF’s, and respective state agencies’ total incompetence, and even corruption, in doing their jobs is legion. The CIA facilitates the importation of cocaine into the US with impunity.

Given its failure, if the Drug War were a private-sector endeavor, investors would have pulled the plug years ago. Instead, since this utterly useless bureaucratic machinery sucks at the teat of the taxpayer, its purveyors are allowed to subsidize their careers fighting windmills.

Rather than acknowledging that their total lack of any meaningful progress in reducing the flow of drugs into the US or deescalating usage rates, these agencies routinely use their abject failure to justify ever-larger budgets. If they just got a few billion more dollars each year, the logic goes, the Drug War could be won in a jiffy.

Total nonsense.

First of all, none of the involved cynical actors (save the lowest-level stooges who swallow the propaganda wholesale) want to win the Drug War. They’d be out of a job if they did. Subsequently, they might be forced into real work to produce something valuable.

Think of the raw number of beneficiaries from the largesse of the Drug War, who owe nearly all or a substantial portion of the justifications for their jobs to harassing and incarcerating drug traffickers and users:

  • Narcotics police
  • Lawyers
  • Judges
  • Parole officers
  • Probation officers
  • “DUI school” scam artists who rake in cash from mandated attendance by drug users
  • Pharmaceutical corporations that don’t appreciate competition.
  • Multinational banks like Wells Fargo that launder cartel drug money

The gravy train rolls on, all the way down to part-time public-school propagandists who get paid a paltry sum to indoctrinate schoolchildren Reefer-Madness style.

What many may not be aware of is who coordinates these anti-pot measures behind the scenes. If you live or have recently lived in a state considering marijuana legalization, you may have noticed coordinated campaigns to push the plant back underground and wondered, Who has the time or inclination to fight these losing battles?

Unsurprisingly, oily DC swamp creatures have the time, the inclination, and the funding to make it happen.

What Is Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) and What Does It Do?

SAM’s leader Kevin Sabet – a deeply entrenched swamp creature who served as an advisor to the U.S. Office of Drug Control Policy in the Daddy Bush, Clinton, and Obama administrations — markets SAM as a non-profit “social welfare organization.”

SAM, therefore, enjoys tax-free status as a 501(c)4. So, while you pay upwards of half of your income (depending on your tax bracket and locale) to the government, SAM gets to keep its hard-earned gains under the guise of performing a public good.

SAM’s website is a labyrinth of Orwellian doublespeak and social justice gibberish (ironic given that the Drug War it expounds incarcerates blacks and other minorities disproportionately). For instance, on its “Marijuana and Social Justice” page, SAM writes that:

“The prison population [in states the have legalized marijuana] has remained stable and in some cases actually reversed years of decrease to an increase since legalization. While it is too early to say whether legalization has caused these increases in the prison population, we can objectively state that it has not decreased the prison population anywhere.”

SAM wants the public to believe, through lawyerly insinuation, that somehow not arresting non-violent marijuana users actually increases the incarceration of mostly non-white, non-violent drug offenders.

Imagine the shamelessness it must take to write that paragraph and, then, to actually publish it as a supporting argument for your cause. This is what years of suburban living in a gated DC swamp does.

In a brazen attempt to upend reality, SAM attempts to position itself as the little guy David fighting the amorphous evil “Big Marijuana” Goliath. On its About Us page, SAM writes: “We seek to expand awareness about an ever-growing marijuana industry that will stop at nothing to increase addiction – and its profits.”

An ever-growing industry that will stop at nothing to increase addiction? If that rings a bell, it’s because such a description is nearly perfectly applicable to Big Pharma. Purdue Pharma, the drug company that mass-produced Oxycontin and relentlessly marketed it despite knowing the serious health risks of the synthetic heroin it pushed – has been the subject of potentially trillions of dollars worth of lawsuits due to its malfeasance.

How interesting then, that opioid manufacturers have donated millions of dollars (sometimes half a million at a single clip in a single state) to fight legal marijuana.

Where is SAM’s criticism of the pharmaceutical corporations that fund its public lobbying industry?

No one should expect such moral consistency from the likes of Sabet. The ranks of the anti-weed crusaders are occupied primarily by two constituencies: well-meaning Forrest Gump types with malleable moral compasses (i.e., voters) and puppet-master financial interests who capitalize on their naivety to further their own interests.

SAM is firmly in the latter camp.

Ben Bartee is a Bangkok-based American journalist with opposable thumbs. Follow his stuff via his blog, Armageddon ProseSubstack, Patreon, Gab, and Twitter.

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