Yesterday on The Daily Weekly I posted about New Approach Washington's latest ad in support of Initiative 502, which - on the off chance you've been living under a rock - would legalize, tax and regulate marijuana use for adults in our state. The ad tackles youth pot use, and argues that passing I-502 will help keep weed out of the hands of children.
Kevin Sabet, a former Senior Advisor with the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and current Director of the Drug Policy Institute and the University of Florida College of Medicine, is an established critic of I-502. He scoffs at the idea passing the initiative will make it more difficult for kids to get their hands on weed, and says approving I-502 will likely create a situation where both the black market and sneaky weed-selling big business (think big tobacco) are targeting kids.
"That argument is completely flawed," says Sabet of New Approach Washington's latest advertising effort. "Alcohol and cigarettes are legal today for those 21 and 18 and kids have no problem accessing those two addictive substances. In fact these legal drugs are implicitly marketed to kids and completely normalized. Why would it be any different for marijuana?"
"If marijuana is legal for those over 21, the well-established black market will simply shift to exclusively targeting kids," Sabet continues. "There are some legitimate arguments for changing current policy, but saying that legalization would lower teen use is completely contrary to over 40 years of evidence on the effect of price and legality on consumption."
Predictably, New Approach Washington's Alison Holcomb finds significant flaws with Sabet's argument. So did many Daily Weekly commenters.
As Seattleparent writes:
I am tired of drug warriors like Mr Sabet making intellectually dishonest arguments. The black market for pot will continue to exist solely to serve the underage smokers? Really? Give me a break. If we legalize, tax, and regulate, we can start to have honest discussions about drugs instead of the nonsense Mr Sabet is spewing. Kids smoke pot today. Kids will continue to smoke pot after it is legalized. Just like they will experiment with alcohol. It's not going away. Keeping pot illegal, however, prevents us from having an honest discussion. Kids aren't stupid. The drug war he and his ilk have been waging for the last 40+ years is an utter and absolute failure. Why won't they admit it? Let's try a different approach and see what happens.