Friday, May 17, 2013

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: President Jimmy Carter Opposes Legalization, Supports Project SAM and Endorses Work of Patrick Kennedy and Kevin Sabet

Contact: BRAD NELSON, 215-962-7080,

 At meeting with state legislators in Atlanta, the President says the dichotomy of "punishment versus rehabilitation" oversimplifies the issue; worries about legal marijuana being marketed to kids; presumes marijuana revenues will be outweighed by the costs of abuse; says he favors arrests for users leading to treatment, assessments, warning hearings

(Atlanta, GA) - President Jimmy Carter, at a meeting that included state legislators and regulators from Colorado and Washington, as well as most of the states targeted for legalization in 2016, and attended by the nation's premier public health scientists like former White House Deputy Drug Czar Thomas McLellan, announced that despite mischaracterizations, he "opposed the legalization of marijuana" and predicted the experiments in Washington and Colorado would go badly. He also said that he didn't believe in imprisoning users of marijuana, but favored SAM's approach of arrests with treatment referral and health assessments.

President Carter has been falsely characterized as supporting legalization by pro-marijuana lobbyists nationwide. Today, he set the record straight:

"I do not favor legalization. We must do everything we can to discourage marijuana use, as we do now with tobacco and excessive drinking," President Carter told the crowd.  "We have to prevent making marijuana smoking from becoming attractive to young people, which is, I'm sure, what the producers of marijuana....are going to try and do."

The President also said "I hope that Colorado and Washington, as you authorize the use of marijuana, will set up very strict experiments to ascertain how we can avoid the use of marijuana... There should be no advertising for marijuana in any circumstances and no driving under the influence. We need to avoid the use of marijuana, particularly among young people." President Carter endorsed the strict list of 12 regulations created by National Families in Action's "But What About The Children?" campaign.

"I'm very proud of Patrick Kennedy and his Project SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana," the President said. "I wish him and Kevin Sabet every success in your independent project to make sure marijuana is handled responsibly."

When asked about decriminalization from a Washington state legislator, President Carter remarked that he believes arrests for marijuana should be in place and result in a warning hearing, treatment, and screening. He opposed permanent records for people with marijuana use.

"I said this 35 years ago....that I didn't want to make it so that a person could possess...or smoke marijuana with impunity but that they could be chastised, offered treatment, etc."

SAM Co-Founder and former Congressman Patrick J. Kennedy commented:

"President Carter's endorsement of Project SAM and rejection of legalization is completely in line with those of us who support mental health treatment and rehabilitation. His leadership on this issue is profound, and we are grateful for his support."

SAM Director, former Obama administration advisor Kevin A. Sabet, said:

"We are overjoyed that President Carter endorsed Project SAM and our commonsense approach to marijuana use. Those of us who have watched for years as Big Tobacco has hooked our youth and denied the harms of smoking are now seeing this play all over again with regards to marijuana in our society. President Carter's incredible leadership on this issue will help us set the record straight about a drug that is 5-6 times stronger than a generation ago."