CEDAR RAPIDS, IA – (CBS2/FOX28) Kevin Sabet is on a national tour, fighting a powerful opponent .. pot. The former member of drug policy teams for both the Bush and Obama White House says the first domino has fallen as states like Colorado legalize marijuana and he wants Iowans, who may be on the fence, to know it’s a huge mistake, “ If you drive, if you have kids, if you are a contributing member of society it will affect you when there are many more people on an intoxicating psychoactive substance.”
Tuesday afternoon at Kirkwood College, Sabet told an audience of about 200 that they should watch and learn from Colorado’s deadly mistakes. He predicts legal pot will mean more car crashes, more kids addicted and a less competent workforce, “ Today’s pot is not the marijuana smoked by baby boomers at Woodstock ..it’s three to ten times stronger.”
Sabet says there are clearly some medical benefits to be gained from the chemicals in marijuana, but as medicine, not as joints. He says smoking in all forms is a health risk.
Outside the lecture hall, three baskets were placed on a table with labels saying yes, no and uncertain. Attendees were asked if they had to vote tomorrow, how they would cast their ballot on legalizing medical marijuana in Iowa. Melissa Walker with the Area Substance Abuse Council says it’s a gray area, “ We do feel like there are some potential medical benefits to marijuana, however there are also some risks associated with smoking or eating marijuana.”
Hesta Stoffel admits she stood in front of the three baskets for a long time trying to decide how to cast her ballot, “ I definitely think it’s worth looking into because there are so many myths out there.”
In fact, some have criticized Iowa Governor Terry Branstad saying his views on medical marijuana date back to the dark ages or at least to the movie “Reefer Madness.” The 1930s film suggested pot turns people into paranoid, killer, sex fiends and referred to it as the burning weed with its roots in Hell. The movie influenced policy for decades.
Sabet says his arguments that pot use doubles the risk for car crashes and causes one in six teens to become addicted are all based in scientific fact, “ I think your governor is right to be skeptical. He’s right to be questioning this movement. There is a narrative that legalization is inevitable here in Iowa and everywhere else and I don’t believe that at all.”
The impact of Sabet’s talk may itself be up for debate, but the final numbers from the vote are worth noting. Before the discussion 65 people said they would vote in favor of medical marijuana, 48 said they would vote no and 24 were uncertain. After his talk, only 20 were still in favor of legalizing medical marijuana, 69 voted no and 14 were uncertain.