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Kevin Sabet Conducts Scandal-Plagued Oregon ‘Educational’ Tour

Russ Belville

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This week I have the… uh… pleasure (?) to shadow “the quarterback of the anti-legalization movement,” Kevin Sabet, as he makes a seven-stop tour across Oregon to “educate” us about marijuana prior to our vote on legalization.

There has been quite a controversy about this supposed “educational” tour. After the Yes on Measure 91 legalization campaign complained about the possible use of federal grant money to finance these events, the Oregon Health Authority declared them to be political, not educational, in nature and pulled all their staff out of scheduled appearances at the tour’s opening event.

Then, BestCare Prevention, the rehab org that had footed the bill for Sabet’s “few thousand dollars” and other expenses for a similar “educational” tour in 2012, pulled out their financing, citing how having Kevin Sabet and other anti-legalization speakers at an “educational” marijuana summit, without any pro-legalization speakers, “could appear like a conflict” over using grant money for illegal electioneering.

Soon, I began initiating Open Records Requests to get to the bottom of whether county district attorneys and drug prevention coordinators were organizing the production of this tour and the 2012 one on the taxpayer’s dime.  This angered one district attorney, who’s called me a “loon” and “mean and crazy” for this appeal to government transparency. I’ve also discovered that he and other DAs are using Gmail addresses to conduct public business, apparently to avoid the reach of Open Records law.

I began raising funds online to comply with the fees that the counties charge me for compiling and reviewing the records. These have ranged from $300 from one county, $945 from another, to $6,547 from another, recently whittled down to over $2,100, for the same type of search for which the first county charged me $300. (You can still contribute if you like at http://gofundme.com/fightsabet.)

Thanks to a generous donation from Oregrown, a dispensary in Bend, Oregon, I have a rental car that I’m using to follow Sabet to all his stops. Originally, this was going to be a thirteen city tour from October 1st through 7th, but six of the stops canceled their events when they no longer had the flow of public money available to put them on.

Thus, I drove three hours from Portland to Madras in central Oregon to cover Sabet’s 8am appearance, where I could determine no more than maybe twenty people were in attendance. Then it was a three-and-a-half hour drive to Keizer. Tomorrow it’s three-and-a-half hours to Roseburg, then another three to Grants Pass in southwestern Oregon. Friday it’s eight hours across to the far eastern side of the state in Ontario, three hours back west to La Grande, and another three hours west to Hood River, and an hour back to Portland. We will have almost completely circled the state.

Sabet’s presentation was ninety minutes of all the recycled Reefer Madness / Kinder, Gentler Drug War pablum he’s been puking forth for years. One highlight: he directly quoted a line of mine from an article I wrote about dabs. You can follow along as I live-stream from these events at http://rad-r.us/live420 or as I live-tweet @RadicalRuss on Twitter. Here are some of my favorite highlights:

-Sabet compares alcohol, tobacco, marijuana as “jumping out a 10 story, 7 story, or 3 story window.”

-Sabet minimizing tobacco damage by saying marijuana affects kids now, but they won’t die from tobacco for years.

-Sabet says today’s marijuana is so much more potent, shows slide of 1960-80 THC <= 1%

-Sabet making fun of presidents, Carl Sagan, Steve Jobs use of pot, saying not everybody will grow up that way.

-Sabet bringing up 8pt IQ loss, saying the 150s can live w/142, but the 100s will suffer at 92. Legal weed for nerds!

-Sabet points out more than half of mj admits are criminal justice, doesn’t mention that other drugs way lower.

-Sabet follows >50% forced into rehab for mj, then dares say mj addiction hard to treat because of denial. /smh

-Sabet says all addicts in same “place”, but alcohol, heroin, meth is the express train, marijuana is the local.

-Sabet makes fun of idea of chewing willow bark vs. aspirin. Funny, he doesn’t propose arrests/rehab for chewers.

-Sabet says he’s not funded by Big Pharma, Rehab, or Alcohol. Huh. Didn’t mention $10,000 from Oregon Sheriffs.

-Sabet says it is problematic to set limit for THC driving, because experienced drivers handle it better. Whoa!

-Sabet compares casual drug use as “first stage cancer”, would we just let that go and wait til stage four?

-Sabet says we say bad things about alc&tob, but mixed msgs on marijuana, is why former dropped, latter rose. Oh.

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