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JANUARY 19, 2013 7:51PM

Patrick Kennedy should stay out of the marijuana wars

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  Photo by dirtywelder42



Patrick J. Kennedy needs to stay out of the marijuana wars. He is a former Rhode Island congressman, a recovering addict and a Kennedy. He is no stranger to scandalous lifestyles, mental illness and drug abuse.  Last Thursday, he launched a group he co-founded  called "Smart Approaches to Marijuana" with the alleged goals of using “reeducation” on youth and reversing marijuana legalization.

 At first, I was excited at the idea of another Kennedy doing something for the good of the nation. After listening and reading, however, I would urge Kennedy to drop out of that sad group and get a better grip on the realities of legalizing and controlling access to medical and recreational marijuana.

According to a Jan. 9 article in the Boston Globe, the group’s leadership warns us about  “... a public health crisis unless a science-based approach is taken to minimizing the harmful consequences of marijuana,  especially among youth,”

 “...the group’s website, SAM supports an approach “that neither legalizes, nor demonizes, marijuana,” while championing ‘smart policies that decrease marijuana use — and do not harm marijuana users and low-level dealers with arrest records that stigmatize them for life and in ways that make it even harder for them to break free from cycles of substance dependence.’

Someone mop that out of my brain, please!

When people try to throw the kitchen sink and all the utensils into a nebulously described anti-substance abuse program, I won’t let them get away with it.

This smells of “mental health professionals” who see lucrative and career building dealings for themselves while they push pot smokers into freaky “reeducation camps” and make up interventions as the program sees fit.

I maintain that Patrick J. Kennedy and others are inarticulate in their idealism and are on the wrong track. As a member of one of the wealthiest and most politically coddled families in the nation, how is he familiar with the real world?

There is no worse self appointed “expert” than a person who comes from generational wealth, political connections and power; and who went through his own private hell of chemical romance and mental health problems.

Some Pro-marijuana advocates allege that Kennedy’s group will plot to force users into some form of  radical or extremist “reeducation” program. That may be going too far since the program appears to be so poorly described as to be laughable. Also, there is no clear message about criminalizing marijuana. 

Kevin Sabet of Cambridge He co-founded of SAM with Kennedy and was a drug policy adviser to President Obama. When asked about the idea of forced treatment he said,

 “We are not forcing anyone into treatment. But there should be a public health intervention” for users. “We need to watch it so it doesn’t advance, especially if you really want to treat addiction as a disease.”


How is this so-called “intervention” different from forced treatment and what good does it do to put people under an ill-defined surveillance program? Is this forced observation or forced treatment?

Why not just get a grant, round up a group of volunteers that look like America for once, and do a legitimate medical study?


 Graphic by amanpandasue


Kennedy appeared on MSNBC on Jan. 18 spouting a somewhat histrionic message that was documented in the Globe article,

“I know something about what I am talking about here. The notion that we want to add any more fuel to the fire flies in the face of all the evidence of an epidemic in this country of epic dimensions when it comes to alcohol and drugs. When are we going to slow this train down instead of adding a new track?”

 When confronted during the MSNBC interview about the fact that the current president smoked marijuana and turned out just fine, Kennedy glibly claimed that the marijuana sold today is much more powerful than in the past. He suggests that this new marijuana creates brain damage and other mental health issues.

The MSNBC host reminded Kennedy that some of the Kennedy fortune came from grandfather Joseph Kennedy’s investments in liquor distilleries. Kennedy quickly dodged the issue and launched into a statement about his opponents and detractors.

Patrick Kennedy should stay out of the marijuana wars because he was shielded from prison time, death-by-cop and institutional abuse for being caught with some spliff. When it comes to the herb, those are the real threats to America’s poor and of-color children.

That is why it is important to legalize the stuff and to establish the same controls against under aged use that exist for alcohol and cigarettes.

Patrick is the son of the late Senator Teddy Kennedy and he claims to be a longtime mental health advocate. He suffered from mental illness and prescription drug abuse, making it odd for him to divert his attention to legalized marijuana. Marijuana’s ill effects do not seem to be included in his own catalogue of major personal problems.

In the end, Kennedy would be a much better advocate for programs that he does know something about: mental illness and prescription drug abuse. He is wasting time when he creates hysteria about recreational or medical marijuana use by old people and teenagers in Utah.

While the federal government is unlikely to legalize the herb, President Obama has a policy of not enforcing federal laws prohibiting marijuana use.  He told ABC News last month that he has bigger fish to fry and it would not make sense for the government to prioritize recreational marijuana users in states that have determined that it’s legal. Federal authorities have taken that position in the 17 or 18 states where medical marijuana is legal.

Hopefully, no more attention will be wasted on Patrick Kennedy’s sad and poorly built house of spliff. I intend to ignore the group and its reasoning until it looks like tax dollars or real interference will come from it.





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But Maryujuana is bad!! It makes people kill a bus load nuns!!!!!!! OH NOZE.....
I thought he opened up a sub shop in Hyannis.
Your smoking up a storm now...
........(¯`v´¯) (¯`v´¯)
............... *•.¸.•* ♥⋆★•❥ Thanx & Smiles (ツ) & ♥ L☼√Ξ ☼ ♥
⋆───★•❥ ☼ .¸¸.•*`*•.♥ (ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★(ˆ◡ˆ) ♥⋯ ❤ ⋯ ★R
You mean to say marijuana is illegal and it causes dain bramage? That's absurd. Never heard of this Patrick Kennedy must be a winner if he was a Congressman from a state smaller than my farm, wait he lost that job, never mind. I've been smoking pot for 50 years and I don't remember ever being harmed by it. Time for breakfast, Kaluha and coffee and a joint. May your spliff and bling be plentiful.......o/e
When they push this bushwa about how much more powerful dope is than in the 60s, they obviously never smoked Michoucan or Hindu Kush hash.

And Kennedy's soft anti-marijuana program is definitely the pot calling the kettle black, if you get my drift.
Yes, this guy should shut up. Weed can be just as enjoyable as a nice cocktail. What is the big deal? We are so uptight in this country!!! NO fun.
Surely there is another place he can cause trouble??
Well done my sweet.
It seems that once some people get a taste of the limelight they just can't live without it.

Sort of like an addiction...... eh Patrick? (*and that's an addiction you ought to know ALL about*)

Rated.... Rated!.... and RATED AGAIN!!

Maybe he's gearing up to be a Tea Party candidate. At least he's being talked about and a lot of anti-drug people will listen to him. Personally, I just want a seed. I've always wanted to try to grow one of these plants.
The simpler remedy is to treat it like alcohol - legalize, tax and regulate. The end of prohibition didn't end moonshining, alcohol abuse or organized crime, but no one advocates for a return of that ridiculous policy.
Whoa! You guys are ON FIRE today! I couldn't believe that interview when it came on. I heard a lot of the reasoning that druggies use to be right about everything. It's not just the drug abuse with hard drugs... it's the ability to be glib, even when inarticulate. I have a lot of love left over for the Kennedy mythos, but have to draw the line with this one.
Zumalicious -- interesting info, thank you! a lot to ponder with exploitation happening in any dimension of supposed change for the better.

want to hear more of this but I do take issue with one thing you state:

"While the federal government is unlikely to legalize the herb, President Obama has a policy of not enforcing federal laws prohibiting marijuana use."

This is from a blog I did a while back re Jill Stein which gave me material from her site giving quite the opposite impression:


At the 420 rally in Denver, Colorado, Dr. Stein addressed tens of thousands of marijuana reform advocates. Dr. Stein declared that one of her first actions as President would be to "order the DEA and the Justice Department to cease and desist all attempts to harass or prosecute medical marijuana clinics or other legitimate marijuana-related businesses that are operating under state laws."

Stein asserted that hundreds of thousands of patients who suffer from chronic pain and cancers are benefitting from medical marijuana. It has been deemed legal in 13 states.

Stein criticized Michele Leonhart, a Bush appointee who Obama has promoted to head of the DEA. Leonhart has been behind the “overzealous” attacks on medical marijuana.

"The President promised us change, but in promoting Michele Leonhart he gave us more of the same. One of the first things I would do as President would be to fire Michele Leonhart."

Stein stresses the injustice of the DEA placing marijuana in the most dangerous category of drugs (Schedule 1) along with heroin and LSD. She said that she would direct the DEA to remove marijuana from Schedule 1 and place it in a more appropriate category as determined by medical science.

"President Obama promised to use a science-based approach to public policy. But when it comes to marijuana, he has continued the unscientific policies of George Bush, and has even gone far beyond Bush in his attacks upon medical marijuana clinics. He supports the irrational classification of marijuana in the most dangerous drug category, and he supports the ban on commercial hemp growing. This is mania-based policy, not science-based policy."

Why in this day and age, when 80% of the country is behind the legalization of marijuana for medical purposes, would our supposedly Democratic President be against it? For political, impression management considerations, of course. Obama is willing to forego affording a vast number of citizens the benefits of medical marijuana to prevent a generalized “soft on drugs” labeling of himself from conservative Americans, for whom he has pandered and accommodated since day one of his administration.

In addition, this continuing Bush to Obama demonization of ALL marijuana users brings staggering human and financial costs. Hundreds of arrests, trials and jailings. Keith Stroup, founder of NORML (National Organization for Reform of Marijuana Law explains:

“The biggest argument opponents throw at us is that marijuana is a gateway drug to worse things. But 9 of 10 marijuana users don’t use anything else, ... And no one blames alcohol and smoking for leading to marijuana use.”

Stein’s platform on marijuana is reality-based, pragmatic and focused on the needs of our society, not on sacrificing citizen welfare and justice for political advantage:

"Stein advocates regulating marijuana in a similar way to alcohol, and has long supported legalization of that drug. According to Stein, this would prevent billions of dollars in profits from pouring into the black market, and would greatly reduce the violence associated with illegal marijuana sales. She feels it would also reduce underage marijuana use, as well as allowing the commercial operations to pay appropriate taxes, thus helping to balance budgets and fund programs to reduce drug abuse.


"Stein has toured the country calling for a Green New Deal that would create 25 million sustainable jobs to end unemployment in America, and shift to a new, more democratic economy and politics. "As part of this, I want to see a thriving commercial hemp industry providing food, fiber, and other products from the hemp plant. This will be good for the environment and good for our economy. A win/win solution is within reach if we can just shake off the Bush/Obama past and embrace a rational, effective drug policy for the 21st century."

end of excerpt

I published this back in April. I hope Obama has changed his tune, but sometimes his actions belie his sound bites!

best, libby
Marijuana has two dimensions: the substance and the illegal distribution industry. The Mexican and Asian pot cartels, not to mention their street gang delivery systems are the problem. These are hard core criminals as dangerous as any hard drug cartels.

Wouldn't it be nice to see that dissolve into legitimate businesses?

The President and law enforcement must take a schizoid approach because of catch 22 methodology: make the drug illegal and have violent, criminal organizations to distribute it.

Make it legal and have non violent, commercial establishments to distribute it.

I wish they could see the difference and legalize pot on the lines of alcohol.
Well written. If you ask any recovery expert, rehab only works if the person wants to change. Forcing kids into rehab only does one thing. It makes mental health hospitals rich. Our state had forced rehab at about 10 grand a pop for first time offenses. It did not work, cost the state millions and millions of dollars and the only real winners where the hospitals who started offering drug rehab to pick up the quick money offered by the state.

The only thing the war on drugs has produced is 50 billion dollars of waste and wide spread corruption in our legal, police and prison system. Local police departments need the federal drug money to pay overtime. Some police departments make millions busting small time users because they can file overtime pay while doing the paper work. Half the prisons now are run by for profit corporations that make billions of dollars.

There are about 30 million people in this country who do drugs. If you took marijuana off the table that would leave about 2 million heroin, meth, coke and prescription drug abusers combined. It would be hard to justify 50 billion dollars in law enforcement prisons for 2 million people. It is not the drug use that produce the crime it is the billions of dollars in cash that create the violence.
Temperence movements have their value, but prohibition tends to cause more problems than it solves. In 30 years, I have used marijuana about 4 times, and those were all 30 years ago, but I favor its legalization. I'd rather a quarter of young suburbia be unable to run two blocks and fascinated by Harold and Kumar than 25% of black young men confined in prisons, and made unemployable due to an arbitrary legal status applied to a substance which is not particularly harmful. If it is an absolute one for one choice, that is an easy one.
Washington State just passed a referendum decriminalizing marijuana use. I still vote in Washington and supported it. I'm glad to hear the Obama won't be sending the feds in to arrest state residents who exercise their new found freedom.

I support marijuana decriminalization because as a (retired) mental health professional, I am painfully aware that only about a tenth of people suffering from alcohol and drug addiction can get treatment for it. This kind of treatment has to be free because addicts have nearly always farked their life up and have no money. Obviously spending billions of dollars on law enforcement isn't solving the problem. We don't know if free treatment on demand would help, but it deserves a try.
It's so good to be back where forums are forums and the forumizers have brains! Good points all.
Dr Steward, rehab works when the person who has a problem is willing to face the fact they have a problem and want help. And even then it is not a guarantee it will work. Forced rehab does not work. In our state if a teen is caught with drugs the first offense is court ordered rehab. The problem is one maybe the teen is not even an abuser and all rehab will do is waste tax payer money. Second if the teen is an abuser and has no desire to change forced rehab only waste more tax payer money.

I have mixed feeling about free rehab. I am more of the belief that personal freedom equals personal responsibility. If we made all drugs legal, it would remove the profit and crime element from the picture. If a person wants to abuse drugs then they face the social consequences of no job, no money, no help. If they commit a crime then they go to jail for the crime not the drugs. This would force them to either change or die.

Maybe the message should be your choice, but you will live with your choices and don't expect society to give you anything. I can understand the dismay of kids who stay in school work hard and are told sorry because of your families economic status cannot go to college. What if the billions spend on individuals who drain society was diverted to these children with promise instead?
How do you have rehab for a non addictive substance? The only rehab that works, by the way is inpatient hospital treatment. The state does not want to pay for that. or for methodone.
Zum, our state use to send first time under age marijuana offenders to automatic rehab at 10 grand a pop. It did not matter if the kid smoked once or for years. The whole war on drugs is not about effectiveness, but rather a means to gain political points.

Our state also makes you sign for over the counter cold pills. It does nothing to stop the flow of meth since most meth comes from south of the border or is produced by large criminal enterprises using raw materials. But, it make politicians and judges look like they are doing something. So if you have several people in the house with colds you have to go back every other day because they will only sell you 12 capsules at a time. It takes 5-10 minutes to fill out the paper work to get Advil cold and flu. Total waste of time, but at least someone at the capital can tell some concerned citizens group they are doing something.
That is infuriating, especially when the people who make the most stable incomes and get the fat pensions are not even doing their jobs!