Sabet acknowledges that most marijuana users don't have serious drug problems. But very few, he says, are actually arrested. And if someone is caught with marijuana — probably in connection with another crime, like driving under the influence — there's a reasonable chance he's got a problem worthy of assessment and treatment.

Marijuana use, Sabet says, should be treated like a public health problem. And public health problems call for intelligent, early intervention. If you've got Stage 1 cancer, he says, you don't wait until you reach Stage 4 to act.

The danger, of course, is that SAM plays a significant role in blocking legalization, but is unable to do the far harder work of shifting the American justice system away from a punitive approach to marijuana and closer to a public-health approach — becoming complicit, in the end, in the war on drugs it criticizes.

SAM's leaders, though, say they are confident they can effectuate change. And in the meantime, they'll play a useful role in challenging liberal assumptions. "If I can get people to think twice about this," Kennedy told the Post, "that would be a win for me."

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Related: Introducing Senator Buzzkill’s new pot bill, Rolling Rally: Our guide to the 22nd Annual Freedom Rally, Smoke Local, More more >
  Topics: This Just In , Patrick Kennedy, Medical Marijuana, pot,  More more >
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