If you've been craving a dose of "Reefer Madness," there's still time to RSVP to Thursday's annual conference of the central Arizona anti-drug organization MATForce.
The public portion of the conference runs from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Maricopa County Board of Supervisors auditorium, 205 West Jefferson Street. The featured speaker is Kevin Sabet, the anti-cannabis activist that Rolling Stone magazine calls "Legalization Enemy No. 1."
Sabet's a drug-policy expert and marijuana prohibitionist who's served as adviser to the Office of National Drug Control Policy under two presidents. He's on a crusade to save marijuana users by forcing them either to undergo re-education and "treatment" -- or to rot in jail.
In his book, Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana, Sabet proves he doesn't know how to distinguish "myths" from straw-man arguments. For instance, his number-one "myth" is that "marijuana is harmless." Naturally, he doesn't say who's claiming it's harmless. In fact, the Marijuana Policy Project, the group responsible for putting Arizona's successful Proposition 203 on the ballot in 2010, states on its website (in its own take on "myths" about marijuana) that "while no drug is harmless, the health risks of marijuana are relatively modest. Compared with alcohol, marijuana is less addictive, much less toxic, and overwhelmingly less likely to provoke violence."
Will Sabet address this more nuanced view of the relative safety of cannabis during his speech on Thursday?
The other big name (if that label isn't too much an exaggeration) at the event is Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk. She's a conservative Republican who won accolades from reasonable people across Arizona when she blasted Sheriff Joe Arpaio and disgraced, former County Attorney Andy Thomas for their abuses of power. But she also believes jail is the best place for the marijuana user.
The last speaker listed for the event is Beth Kempshall, executive director of the Arizona High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area. She'll likely talk about how marijuana decriminalization hampers efforts to fight black market pot smuggling. What she won't be talking about is the rampant alcohol smuggling in Arizona. Because alcohol, which is at least as "dangerous" as marijuana, is legal.
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Seating will be limited at the public event, and MATForce wants you to RSVP if you want to go. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Got a tip? Send it to: Ray Stern.