On November 4, 2014, Oregon residents will go to the polls to decide whether Oregon should legalize the sale of recreational marijuana. In the mean time, cannabis proponents and opponents are fighting a war for the minds of Oregonian voters.
Kevin Sabet, prominent anti-marijuana activist, is one individual fighting this battle. Sabet had planned on doing a multi-city tour of Oregon to “educate” people about the dangers of marijuana; unfortunately, for Sabet, things have not gone according to plan.
Dubbed the “Marijuana Education Tour,” Sabet and his allies would have toured 13 cities in Oregon, with the first stop in Madras; however, all of that came to a screeching halt once it was discovered that Sabet’s visit to Madras was being funded by tax payer money. The event in question was funded by grants from the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.
Outraged at this apparent conflict of interest, Oregon’s cannabis community has responded. Anthony Johnson, executive director of the Oregon Cannabis Industry Association, told The Oregonian, “It raises a lot of questions about federal tax dollars being used to interfere in a state election.” Many in the cannabis community called for the event to be canceled.
It is seen as highly unethical for individuals to use federal funds to influence elections. Imagine if the president used federal subsidies to give his party an edge in an election; Americans would be in an uproar.
Sabet responded to the outrage by claiming that the tour was merely an educational one, and had nothing to do with politics. This argument insults the intelligence of anyone listening, especially when you consider that Sabet also founded an anti-pot PAC called Smart Approaches to Marijuana.
Sabet even had the gall to claim that at the Madras event, he wouldn’t be addressing the ballot initiative to legalize marijuana. Sabet must’ve been ignoring the fact that the name of the event was the “Oregon Marijuana, Alcohol, & Other Drugs Summit” and the fact that it’s specifically listed as the kick-off event to the “Marijuana Education Tour.” It doesn’t matter if you are deaf, dumb, and blind; Sabet’s intentions are plain to see.
Fortunately, the public outcry and bad publicity caused at least the first stop of Sabet’s tour to be canceled. It is unknown whether or not more events on the tour will be canceled as other stops in the tour have also received grants from the Drug-Free Communities Support Program.
This is a big victory not only for cannabis supporters in Oregon, but also for cannabis supporters nationwide. In past decades, incidents like the one involving Sabet would have gone unnoticed and more than likely would have still happened without a hitch.
Fortunately, the public opinion on cannabis has shifted; and with that opinion shift has come new-found political sway. It is encouraging to see the cannabis industry beginning to flex its newly formed political muscle; and it will be interesting to see how the industry uses its increasing strength in the years to come.
Source: The Oregonian