As an Omaha defense lawyer, Daniel Stockmann devotes his practice to helping people fight drug charges, or more specifically, marijuana-related issues. There’s a constant back-and-forth movement within Nebraska regarding the legality of the leafy green substance. On the one hand, the vast majority of Nebraskans approve of marijuana, at the very least for medicinal purposes. Studies routinely point out the positive benefits of pro-marijuana legislation as well, such as the one we recently covered that showed how cannabis may be the key to ending the nation’s opioid epidemic. Despite all this, an agency known as Smart Approaches to Marijuana, or “SAM” suggests the evidence offered is wrong and that marijuana is a “threat” to us all. Not surprisingly, this group isn’t so much interested in pushing for “smart” legislation as they are in spreading anti-marijuana propaganda, but to truly understand what this organization is up to, you have to understand who’s really behind it.
SAM Claims Marijuana is a Threat
“Today’s highly potent marijuana represents a growing and significant threat to public health and safety, a threat that is amplified by a new marijuana industry intent on profiting from heavy use,” the group’s March 2018 report entitled “Lesson Learned from Marijuana Legalization in Four U.S. States and D.C.” reads. While the group openly admits its goal is to “align marijuana policy and attitudes about the drug with 21st-century science, which continues to show how marijuana use harms the mind and body,” it uses spotty one-sided data to prove its point.
They’re Using Junk Science to Back Up Their Claims
For example, the report highlights the increase in charges for Driving Under the Influence of Drugs (DUID) post-legalization in Colorado. The problem with the SAM statistic is, it’s relatively meaningless. “There is no science that shows drivers become impaired at a specific level of THC in the blood. A lot depends on the individual,” admits RMHIDTA, another anti-marijuana group. Research gathered by the Denver Post expands on the topic a bit more. Journalist David Migoya explains, “Positive test results reflected in the NHTSA data do not indicate whether a driver was high at the time of the crash since traces of marijuana use from weeks earlier also can appear as a positive result.” In other words, drug testing for THC and cannabinoids is meaningless, as it’s not an indicator as to whether a person has had the substance recently and does not determine the level of impairment if a person is impaired at all. Moreover, SAM says nothing about the increase in straight alcohol-related DUIs during the same time period, which could mean, if cannabis-related driving incidents are truly on the rise, it’s part of a larger trend of impaired driving, not necessarily caused by legalization.
Rolling Stone Calls SAM “Hardened Drug Warriors”
Rolling Stone’s Kristen Gwynne did an expose on SAM and other anti-marijuana groups back in 2013, referring to those behind the movements as “a group of hardened drug warriors, many of whom have developed a personal interest in maintaining prohibition.”
In the expose, Gwynne covered Kevin Sabet, who, over the years, has made some pretty outrageous claims about marijuana, such as saying 1-in-6 kids becomes addicted after trying it, that it stunts IQ, and that it has increased in potency.
Former congressman Patrick Kennedy of the well-known Kennedy clan is a self-proclaimed child of two alcoholics who has not only been open about his bipolar disorder and depression but also his addictions to OxyContin and alcohol. Kennedy constantly compares marijuana to alcohol in his speeches, claiming it’s dangerous and addictive, and that this, paired with his own medical and personal history, is why he’s anti-marijuana. However, research by Medical Jane suggests there may be a conflict of interest here, as organizations Kennedy is involved with could see drastically reduced profits and funding if marijuana is legalized across the board, ultimately impacting Kennedy’s own pocketbook.
Counterpart David Frum has a similar background to Sabet. “Touting a variety of disproved myths about marijuana, Frum has written this month for major outlets including CNN,” Gwynne wrote, “claiming that legalization will somehow magnify the supposed problems associated with recreational marijuana use.” It doesn’t stop there, though. Frum has had a few choice words to say about the intelligence of people in general. “When we write social rules, we always need to consider: Who are we writing rules for? Some people can cope with complexity. Others need clarity,” wrote Frum for CNN. He goes on:
“The goal of public policy should be to protect (to the extent we can) the vulnerable from making life-wrecking mistakes in the first place.
There’s a trade-off, yes, and it takes the form of denying less vulnerable people easy access to a pleasure they believe they can safely use. But they are likely deluding themselves about how well they are managing their drug use. And even if they are not deluded — if they really are so capable and effective — then surely they can see that society has already been massively re-engineered for their benefit already. Surely, enough is enough?”
Retain a Knowledgeable Omaha Defense Lawyer
SAM has raised millions of dollars to fight pro-marijuana legislation and they, paired with other similar organizations, are working strategically throughout the country. While marijuana supporters have won the battle in many states, it has only hardened the resolve of organizations like this to keep marijuana illegal in the few remaining holdout states like Nebraska. While pro-marijuana legislation may eventually win out, you will still face harsh consequences if arrested with marijuana in Nebraska. Should you or a loved face this situation, get in touch with Omaha defense lawyer Daniel Stockmann for a no-obligation consultation by filling out the form on this page or calling (844) 906-0641.