The impact of legalization on treatment income

“Follow the money.” Always good advice when considering the motivations of prohibitionists. Certainly it’s true with the true drug warriors, including DEA, police unions, etc.

And, while the treatment industry is comprised of both the truly caring and the avariciously opportunistic, the general sense has been that most of their vocal opposition to legalization has come from those who see legalization as a threat to their revenue.

Well, Kevin Sabet has been pushing back against that with his own notion that legalization will actually result in an increase in profits for the treatment industry (and even for the enforcement industry).

Kevin Sabet tweet:

Repeating this for the uninformed: if drugs were legal, I, and the treatment and enforcement sectors, would be MUCH richer. > use = > need

He seems very sure of himself, but I’d advise you not to take any financial advice from him, ’cause assuming he actually believes what he says, his analytical skills are crap.

The notion that enforcement would profit from legalization is so laughable it’s not worth my time to address, but let’s look at treatment.

if drugs were legal

- Which drugs, how regulated?

> use = > need

- Unspoken assumption that legalization leads to greater use, which may not be true in all situations.

- Conflation of use and abuse.

- What about all those referred to treatment by criminal justice and others, including many for cannabis who don’t need treatment?

- What about the fact that addictive illegal drugs have more uncertain dosages/purity causing serious problems for addicts? How would that differ with regulated drugs with controlled purity?

- What about substitution? Legal pure amphetimines would cause less treatment problems than homemade meth.

- No thought is given to the notion that those who wouldn’t use while a drug is illegal, but would when it is legal, are less likely to become addicted.

Now personally, I don’t think that Kevin is in this racket for the money. My sense is that he’s hitched his career wagon to the anti-legalization movement and likes being a “leader” in it, regardless of whether he benefits financially (although he wouldn’t mind getting both).


For more on Kevin Sabet and SAM, see Where now for opponents of cannabis law reform? at Transform.

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