Hateful Eight: Pot’s Biggest Opponents

hateful eight, pot prohibition
Top Row, L to R: Carla Lowe, James Lankford, Scott Pruitt, Nancy Grace; Bottom Row, L to R: Jeff Sessions, Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chuck Rosenberg, Kevin Sabet

Marijuana-law reform has been on a roll. Four states and the District of Columbia have approved recreational cannabis, 26 states and DC have legalized medical marijuana (Pennsylvania, Louisiana and Ohio joined the party in 2016), and polling indicates that a majority of Americans favor legalizing pot. Despite the good vibes, however, it’s important to remember that there are still many hardline anti-pot crusaders out there, and they’re not going away anytime soon. For every Melinda Haag or Michele Leonhart that fades away, another misinformed or disingenuous stooge is waiting to take their place. Below is a list of eight particularly hateful pot prohibitionists who should be on your radar. It is by no means a comprehensive list, so please add your thoughts on other anti-cannabis crusaders attempting to derail pot’s progress in the comments section below.

CARLA LOWE: As a substitute teacher in the 1970s, Lowe noticed that some of her students “with long hair… weren’t focusing” on their lessons and decided “they were probably smoking pot.” Since then, she’s made it her life’s mission to fight against dealing with marijuana rationally. In 2010, Lowe founded Citizens Against Legalizing Marijuana (CALM) in response to California’s legalization effort, Proposition 19. Now, six years later, Lowe and CALM are at it again, spreading prohibitionist propaganda in hopes of sinking California’s current legalization effort, the Adult Use of Marijuana Act. CALM erroneously reports that marijuana causes permanent brain damage, testicular cancer, mental illness and birth defects – and, of course, has no medicinal value.

JAMES LANKFORD: In 2014, the Justice Department issued a memorandum granting permission to Native American tribes to grow and sell marijuana on their lands. This didn’t sit well with Oklahoma Senator James Lankford, who proposed a bill that would punish tribes growing or selling pot by stripping their federal funding. According to Lankford, the bill – which seeks to fuck Native people out of a sustainable and potentially lucrative revenue source – is necessary because “The Native American community experiences the highest drug-induced death rate in the country.” See? Lankford is just protecting indigenous people from pot. He even refers to his bill – the Keeping Out Illegal Drugs Act – by the cloying and shameless acronym “the KIDs Act.”

NANCY GRACE: Shrieking bag of Southern poo Nancy Grace amps up her unique brand of faux moral outrage when discussing marijuana on her eponymous HLN talk show. Grace is an opportunistic ratings whore who cherry-picks stories of terrible crimes involving pot and holds them up to her gullible audience as being representative of marijuana use as a whole. And if a guest is brave enough to disagree with her, Grace will indignantly squawk “You’re stoned!” at them. But perhaps we’ve seen the last of Grace for a while, since the network just announced that her show, mercifully, will be ending in October.

KEVIN SABET: No list of prohibitionists would be complete without Kevin Sabet. The co-founder of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) has been incredibly successful at gaming the media, which is famously obsessed with point/counterpoint “reporting,” into airing his marijuana misinformation. Sabet often goes on television to assert that cannabis “significantly decreases IQ,” “is 10 times more dangerous than the marijuana of the ’60s,” and “addicts one out of every six children who ever try the drug.” All lies – but Sabet wears a suit and speaks authoritatively, so idiots believe him. And media outlets keep inviting him back.

CHUCK ROSENBERG: Last year, national embarrassment Michele Leonhart was forced out as head of the DEA. Leonhart once famously refused to acknowledge that heroin is any worse than marijuana when questioned before Congress. So it seemed reasonable to hope that her replacement would be an improvement… Enter new DEA chief Chuck Rosenberg, who appeared eager to display the ignorance that earns you the top job at the DEA when he went on the record saying, “What really bothers me is the notion that marijuana is also medicinal – because it’s not… We can have an intellectually honest debate about whether we should legalize something that is bad and dangerous, but don’t call it medicine – that is a joke.”

SCOTT PRUITT: Colorado voters passed Amendment 64 in 2012, legalizing recreational pot. Governor John Hickenlooper decided not to block the will of the people, and the federal government opted not to interfere with the state’s constitutional amendment. But this isn’t really about the citizens of Colorado – it’s about Scott Pruitt, the prohibitionist attorney general in the nearby state of Oklahoma. Pruitt, along with the AG of Nebraska, another neighboring state, led a lawsuit asking the feds to overturn Colorado’s historic law and make cannabis illegal again. Although the Supreme Court recently refused to consider the suit, Pruitt won’t quit: He’s now attempting to join a case opposing legal pot in a Denver-based appeals court.

DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ: True, the Florida congresswoman hasn’t devoted her life to thwarting marijuana-law reform – but while much of her party favors legalizing pot, Wasserman Schultz opposes legalizing even medical marijuana. “I just don’t think we should legalize more mind-altering substances if we want to make it less likely that people travel down the path toward using drugs,” she opined in a recent interview, adding: “There is a huge heroin epidemic.” That’s right, the recently deposed chair of the Democratic National Committee subscribes to the thoroughly debunked gateway theory, implying that medical pot will somehow encourage people to use heroin. Thankfully Schultz has been forced out of her position heading up the DNC. Now she faces a tough primary that could lead to her ouster from the House.

JEFF SESSIONS: Apparently, old drug warriors don’t change; they just double down. But while their position on pot is at odds with a country that increasingly favors legal weed, at least the US Senate provides a platform for them to rage against the dying of the light. At a recent masturbatory hearing on the Justice Department’s handling of marijuana legalization, Alabama Senator Jeff Sessions got a chance to dust off some vintage ’80s anti-pot rhetoric, bemoaning the fact that legalizing weed would “reverse the progress that we’ve made… trying to send that message with clarity, that good people don’t smoke marijuana.” Perhaps it’s time voters send Jeff Sessions the message that his services are no longer required.


This article originally appeared in the October 2016 issue of HIGH TIMES. Be sure to get your digital or print copy of the October issue, featuring our annual Pot Jobs report.



  1. Look, if someone’s against all drugs, including alcohol, then I can respect their opinion, but if someone is against marijuana, yet thinks alcohol is okay, they are a fucking idiot.

    1. Sure. If someone is against homosexuality, women, children, abortion, marriage, religion, animals, eating animals, Republicans, Democrats, money, debt, love, hate, or anything then I can respect their opinion – right up until the moment that they try to project that opinion on other people or try to make decisions for other people because of their opinion. I get what you’re saying but cannabis use is about choice. In a country that makes the choice of minorities a sacred thing, they’re completely ignoring cannabis users.

  2. Seven out of ten American adults take at least one prescription drug every day, and four out of those ten are mind altering. Like the great John Henry Gunderson said and I will expand. If someone is willing to swear off all opiate pain relievers when they do land in the ER some day, then I respect their opinion opposing mood altering substances. Provided they also don’t drink, overeat, or participate any any activity the releases the same chemical dopamine in the brain that people associate with feeling high. Anyone else is just a hypocrite.

    1. I did some volunteer time in New Zealand with the Wellington Free Ambulance, when it came to the weekends, it was like a lot of people got chronicly drunk in the same moment, sadly there seems to be people in the Ambulance, Police and Health professions who prefer Cannabis be legalized

    2. I did some volunteer time in New Zealand with the Wellington Free Ambulance, when it came to the weekends, it was like a lot of people got chronicly drunk in the same moment, at the moment there seems to be people in the Ambulance, Police and Health professions who prefer Cannabis be legalized in New Zealand but the Government won’t play ball

      1. There is a prohibition pocket in New Zealand. I don’t know who they are or what their profit is in the prohibition industry.

        I’ve had some decent strains from Australia that are ruderalis, but I argue they are not of the Durban family out of Africa. There are unique strains of the cannabis plant still not in the system from New Zealand, Australia and the antipodes.

        This is important because medical strains can be very specific. Marijuana in modern medicine has just begun to come together. The FDA has only approved a total of two botanical drugs, and the botanical department is still new. Those are simple plant extracts. The FDA is simply not yet equipped to profile all the compounds in a whole plant or even a coffee bean. The botanical department was created to eventually reach the Asia market and China in particular where some people only trust plant based medicine. That is the largest market in the world and it cannot be ignored.

        Remember that penicillin did not have the studies required today to be approved. It took decades for some to come around to the idea of antibiotics. I saw that in my life time it seems.

        The crux of the problem can be broken down to the definition of abuse and addiction. The DEA rules from the CSA of 1970 require them to measure how many people in the population are using a substance without a prescription. 40 million Americans consume marijuana on a regular basis without and prescription. Doctors can only legally recommend, not prescribe the plant.

        It’s a Catch 22 and it’s going to be solved by legislation on congress and signed into law by President Hillary Clinton next year. Probably the Cares Act and the States Rights Act in tandem to cover the federal and state conflict. To find who is profiting from prohibition in NZ maybe take a good look at who is opposing it.

        In modern terms you stalk them to no end and find out who they are working for so you can make that public. In America right now we are fighting the prison for profit industry. That hasn’t only been apparent for a few years as they hid behind blaming Big Pharma and Big Alcohol. Follow the money. Who profits by this prohibition? is there a political party who has a hard line against it, and maybe most of the type of people who smoke it are of the opposition party?

        Prohibition is always a tool of discrimination.

    3. Your comment highlights the commonly, and annoyingly, used trope by prohibitionists that those that consume mind altering substances are only using them to escape reality.

      Where the truth lies is that everyone uses some personal measure to escape reality. Whether by reading, religion, exercise, food, gardening, and yes, consuming mins altering substances.

      Personal preference is a beautiful thing because it’s personal.

  3. Prohibition of marijuana was based on a few individual’s personal opinion and not scientific facts. There is a tremendous amount of people in the USA alone who have truly benefitted from Cannabis . It has afforded some the “perceived quality of life” to see their grandchildren born and the ability to enjoy them. To build a conducive and proper society we all have to respect everyone’s personal right of “Perceived quality of life”.
    Just in the past few years many articles of proof show issues of misconduct within the DEA alone. The agency and staff should be thoroughly audited on all transactions and a detailed utilization report. Yes, personal records as well. The people make the agency real. Or it should be dissolved due to false pretenses. .There is a High Times article a year ago or so explaining how the DEA was assisting in the safe passage for Mexican Cartels into the US with drugs for information.? Now from looking at how Fedreal, and States agencies, Researchers, Science, medical boards/associations, medical teams/Dr. all of which are goverment certified have willing approved and distributed these legally controlled prescriptions. Opiates have devasted commuities, families, and individuals. They legally created what is called the biggest epidemic at society’s expense $. Do we really need Goverment regulating God’s perfection ? Absolutely not ! They can’t even balance the public check book ! It is election time get off your a_ _es and vote for the person who will represent future generations.

  4. These ignorant authoritarians need a permanent vacation. Remember the names and when they come up for reelection work to vote them out.

  5. I use marijuana and grow it for our personal use. But I strongly dispute the strident tone of this article. It’s tribalistic, needlessly aggressive, and counterprouctive.

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  7. Fuck ’em all . Kevin Sabet what a pussy. Big pharma is lining their pockets just like fat boy chris christie

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