“Volunteers” Fighting Marijuana Legalization in Alaska

Recently, Kevin Sabet from the ironically named Smart Approaches to Marijuana (Project SAM), the leading anti-marijuana legalization group he co-founded with former Congressman Patrick Kennedy, was engaged in a debate with Judge Jim Gray from Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Both sides were respectful during the debate except for one moment when Judge Gray alluded to a recent article in The Nation explaining how two leading anti-drug groups, Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) and Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, get a large chunk of their funding from pharmaceutical giants Purdue, Abbott, and Alkermes (makers of Oxycontin, Vicodin, and Zohydro, the new “super Vicodin,” respectively).

Sabet loudly interrupted Judge Gray to essentially call him a liar and to defiantly declare that he and all his cohorts at Project SAM were “all-volunteer” and took no money from Big Pharma.

Whenever Sabet tells you all the anti-pot folks like him are “volunteers,” point out this tidbit from the Alaska media on the spokesperson for the anti-legalization group “Big Marijuana Big Mistake,” Kristina Woolston.

…Woolston is majority owner of Northwest Strategies, which represents the anti-legalization effort. Woolston said the company is donating its time for the cause, though there may be “hard costs” that the campaign must pay, for things like advertising, she said. Likewise, while her employer, Chenega Corp., supports Big Marijuana Big Mistake — as evidenced by a $25,000 contribution in May — the Alaska Native corporation is not paying Woolston directly for her time working on the campaign, just letting her take the time from her salaried position to do it, she said.  “I’m a volunteer spokesperson,” Woolston said.

So, by that definition of “volunteer,” Washington state legalization campaigner Alison Holcomb was a volunteer, too, since ACLU of Washington was paying her salary but letting her take the time off to run New Approach Washington.

How many of you dear High Times readers have volunteered to gather signatures for legalization?  How about volunteering to help medical marijuana patients?  Or marching in the streets, writing letters to the editor, and putting together hempfests and NORML conferences?  Did you get to do that during your salaried work time with full approval of your boss?

The next time you hear Kevin Sabet talk about his volunteer work, flying around the world (first class, I’ll bet), staying in nice hotels in Vienna or Prague or New York or London, renting cars and dining well, keep in mind that it’s highly likely his wedding cost more than the entire annual salary you actually have to work.

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