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Kevin Sabet, Former Drug Czar, Clings to Outdated Views on Cannabis Legalization

In the more than a decade since Washington voters legalized adult-use cannabis, the green wave of legalization has swept across 23 states and entire countries like Canada and Uruguay. However, despite the progress made in shifting attitudes towards cannabis, there are still remnants of old-school thinking that resemble the sensationalized propaganda from the infamous film "Reefer Madness." One of the leading figures upholding this outdated mindset is good ol Kevin Sabet, America's biggest cannabis prohibitionist, who served as the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy adviser for three presidents: Bill Clinton, George W. Bush, and Barack Obama. Earlier this week, Sabet made an appearance on Fox News, where he took aim at the current state of cannabis affairs in the country. Referring to cannabis as "the most misunderstood drug in our country today," Sabet's remarks reflected his staunch opposition to the growing acceptance of cannabis in the United States. He even went as far as to conflate the nation's mental health crisis with cannabis legalization, suggesting a link between cannabis use and an increase in mental illness. According to Sabet, "today's cannabis can quintuple your risk of psychosis and schizophrenia, and increase suicide risk by about six times." While it is true that there are valid concerns about cannabis use and mental health, especially given the potency of some legally available products, Sabet's approach seemed more like fearmongering than an informed critique. Claiming that the smell of cannabis is ubiquitous in major cities, Sabet's assertion falls flat when confronted with the reality of public opinion. Recent Gallup polls indicate that a staggering 68 percent of Americans now support the legalization of adult-use cannabis, showcasing a shift in attitudes across the nation. Responding to those in favor of legalization, Sabet seemed dismissive, stating that they "just want to smoke weed and legitimize their own lifestyle." However, the economic benefits of cannabis legalization are undeniable. Washington state alone generated over $500 million in cannabis tax revenue during the last fiscal year, proving that the industry has become a significant contributor to the economy. Despite his impressive resume and founding of the Foundation for Drug Policy Solutions, Sabet's stance on cannabis remains stubbornly entrenched in the past. As the legal cannabis market continues to thrive and garner support from the public, Sabet's opposition to progress in this area seems increasingly out of touch.
While the debate around cannabis legalization and its potential effects on mental health continues, it is clear that the majority of Americans support adult-use cannabis. Kevin Sabet's appearance on Fox News only highlighted his outdated perspective and fear-based arguments. As the cannabis industry becomes an economic boon for states that have embraced it, Sabet's resistance to change stands as a stark reminder of the lingering prejudices that still surround this widely accepted plant. As the nation moves forward, it is essential to base discussions on cannabis policy in fact-based and rational conversations that consider both the potential benefits and risks associated with its consumption.


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