Another View: 'Big Pot' does not have the community in mind


With marijuana legalization ballot initiatives in five states, SAM Action, the 501 c-4 sister organization to Smart Approaches to Marijuana, announces partnerships with the Coalition for Responsible Drug Policies (California), Arizonans for Responsible Drug Policy, Campaign for a Safe and Healthy Massachusetts, Mainers for Healthy Youth, and Nevadans for Responsible Drug Policy.

The focus of each of these state campaigns is to stop the legalization and commercialization of marijuana. To that end, SAM Action has raised more than $300,000 so far to spend on fighting the initiatives.

"The marijuana industry wants to get richer after this November election cycle, so they have written ballot initiatives that allow for thousands of shops selling pot candy, gummy bears and other addictive products in communities around the country," said Kevin Sabet, president of SAM Action. "Between now and November, SAM Action and our state partners will ensure that the public is well informed about why a corporate cannabis free-for-all is bad for neighborhoods across the country."

Many of the marijuana ballot initiatives that voters will consider this November contain strongly pro-industry provisions such as: Blocking effective regulation of sales and advertising of pot candies, edibles, and other kid-friendly pot products; packing state regulatory bodies with marijuana industry representatives and stacking the deck so that there are few regulations to ensure public health and safety; protecting stoned drivers from prosecution; preventing employers from disciplining or firing employees who use marijuana, and restrict the use of pre-employment drug testing; and permitting convicted heroin and methamphetamine dealers to operate marijuana businesses.

"With these initiatives, the devil is in the details," continued Sabet. "We're going to help states understand that Big Pot does not have community interests in mind when they write initiatives that allow convicted heroin dealers to run pot shops or when they allow for unfettered access and advertising of pot candies."

Today's pot is six to 10 times as strong as the weed smoked at Woodstock, and in concentrate form (used to make pot candy and other edibles) it can be as much as 98 percent pure. In addition, a mounting volume of scientific evidence links pot use to mental health problems like schizophrenia and psychosis. Moreover, legalization rolls out the red carpet for a massive commercial industry that would target and addict the young, the poor, and communities of color. In Colorado alone, Black and Latino youth pot arrests have increased since legalization, and pot shops are concentrated in poorer communities.

"We owe it to future generations to stop 'Big Tobacco 2.0'," concluded Sabet.

Sabrina E. Williams can be contacted at


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