Kevin Sabet is the head of Project SAM, the national anti-legalization think tank that was formed in the wake of successful legalization in Washington and Colorado in 2012. His efforts flopped spectacularly in 2014, losing three-for-three legalization battles in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington DC Sabet also got caught fostering a public-money-for-anti-pot-propaganda scheme in Oregon that cost him $18,000 personally, providing a road map for activists in potential 2016 legalization states to thwart his efforts.
You’d think he’d be upset, but knowing Sabet, this election was just what he needed to paint his side as the underfunded underdogs when they go to Sheldon Adelsen or the Koch Brothers for funding anti-pot campaigns in 2016. As soon as legalization was announced in the third, fourth, and fifth US jurisdictions to approve it, Sabet was out spinning the results.
“Election results in Florida, five cities in Colorado, and one liberal city in Maine represented a rejection of retail marijuana legalization tonight,” Sabet wrote, “just two years after victories in Washington and Colorado.”
Yeah, sure, voters in two more states and the nation’s capital ended marijuana prohibition and Oregon and Alaska accepted far more wide-open retail marijuana legalization than Washington and Colorado, but look-ee over here, you beat legalization in Lewiston, Maine (even as you lost in South Portland, Maine). There’s something to hang your hat on, Kevin.
“Voters in Alaska approved retail marijuana legalization by a slim 52 percent to 48 percent margin,” Sabet continues, “while DC voters approved the use (but not sales) of marijuana. Oregonians also voted to legalize marijuana by a margin of 54 percent to 46 percent.”
A slim four-point margin in Alaska means that it beat its necessary requirement to pass, 50 percent, by two points. So, then, medical marijuana in Florida lost by a slim margin, since it got 58 percent and needed 60 percent to win, correct, Kevin?
“Even though we did not do as well as we wanted to,” added Sabet’s colleague, Patrick Kennedy, “these slim margins of victory show that we are beginning to slow the legalization freight train down.”
OK, let’s look at the legalization freight train. In 2012, its margins of victory in Colorado and Washington were 10 points, 55 to 45. In 2014, its margin in Alaska was 4 points (52-48), in Oregon was 12 points (56-44), and in DC was 38 points (69-31). Adding all the votes from the three legal jurisdictions comes out to 983,869 votes for, 750,236 votes against, for a 57-43 victory, a margin of 14 points. Looks like the freight train has become a high-speed mag-lev train.
“This was not the complete slam-dunk the legalization groups expected,” continued Sabet. “Alaska barely voted to legalize, and several cities rejected marijuana retail stores outright.”
Well, three-for-three with a 14-point margin is really more of a hat trick, if you want the proper sports metaphor, Kevin. And again, that “barely voted” to legalize means Florida “barely voted” to reject medical marijuana.
As for Kevin’s “victory” in Florida, medical marijuana won by a fifteen-point margin, 57.6 to 42.4. Only the constitutional requirement of sixty percent to amend kept Florida from becoming the first Southern medical marijuana state. Only 16 of 67 Florida counties mustered a majority in opposition to medical marijuana. So, please, Kevin, keep crowing about how you got a 42 percent rejection of medical marijuana during a mid-term election in a Southern state that featured a disastrously flawed messenger in John Morgan and was the first to include a multi-million-dollar anti-medical marijuana ad campaign.
If the Florida and Lewiston, Maine “wins” and a few conservative suburban cities in California and Colorado rejecting pot shops are the best you can do after two years of funding for Project SAM, you’ve got a long two years ahead of you, Kevin.