Developments on the medical marijuana front:
* YES FOR VETS: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a former prosecutor, has signed legislation to allow providing marijuana for people with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Gov. Chris Christie signed a bill into law Wednesday that would add post-traumatic stress disorder to the list of conditions that would qualify people for medical marijuana, a move actively sought by combat veterans.
Christie said he supported the bill because an estimated 20 percent of veterans returning from the Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from this “debilitating” illness.
Other means of treatment would have be tried first before a doctor could recommend cannabis, to prevent “misuse,” according to the governor’s bill-signing statement.
* A NO FOR NOW: Arkansas will get a visit next week from Kevin Sabet, a noted crusader against legal marijuana campaigns. He’s neither physician nor scientist, but has been a White House drug policy adviser and turns up in most state decriminalization efforts as CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana. It now advocates for “science-based, health-first mindset” regarding legalization.
Sabet might as well have been in town when Gov. Asa Hutchinson surrounded himself with establishment organization representatives to denounce the two medical marijuana initiatives. They used many Sabet talking points, particularly “Big Marijuana,” and a seeming openness to FDA testing and development, a process that has gone almost nowhere in part because of resistance from the major pharmaceutical industry and marijuana’s status as a Schedule 1 drug. I’ve asked, but don’t yet know, if anyone is paying Sabet for his visit here. He’s certain to be welcomed by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce/Arkansas Farm Bureau combine leading oppositoin to allowing sick people access to marijuana.
Some Sabet background:
* An article in Alternet about what were seen as “myths” being propagated by Sabet.It argues, essentially, that Sabet dresses moral judgments in science.
* Interesting, too, is a long profile in International Business Times, which shows Sabet’s evolution, or rebranding, from to someone advocating scientific research and a so-far gauzy notion of criminal reform. It also brought up the issue of his backers.
Sabet’s detractors also make note of the fact that Stuart Gitlow, an outspoken member of Project SAM’s board of directors, is the medical director for a pharmaceutical company marketing Zubsolv, a drug designed to treat opioid addiction, and that Robert DuPont, Sabet’s mentor, helps run a consulting firm specializing in drug testing management. Sabet himself was an advisory board member of the Drug Free America Foundation, an organization founded by Mel and Betty Sembler after they shut down STRAIGHT, Inc., a highly controversial drug treatment company. Drug manufacturers and drug testing companies are also major sponsors of anti-marijuana organizations like NAADAC. Could they be bankrolling Project SAM, too?
Sabet insists that his organization receives zero funding from pharmaceutical companies, drug-testing interests or the government, although some of his trips and talks have been financed by organizations that do.
Patrick Kennedy, in town this week for a conference on drug abuse, is a co-founder of Sabet’s group.
* Good YouTube here of Sabet’s encounter with Sen. Cory Booker at a Senate hearing, who ripped Sabet.