When most people talk about Canada’s impending legalization of marijuana, they talk about the future. When Kevin Sabet talks about it, he worries about history repeating.
“There are huge misconceptions, I often feel like we’re living in 1918, not 2018,” he said.”When I say 1918, I mean 1918 for tobacco when everyone thought that smoking cigarettes was no problem and we had a new industry that was just starting.”
In 1918, soldiers returning home from the trenches of the First World War brought cigarettes home with them and unwittingly sowed the seeds of one of 20th century’s biggest health epidemics.
“We hadn’t had tobacco related deaths before the 20th century because we hadn’t had a lot of cigarettes, which actually gave us the most deadly form of tobacco we’ve ever seen. I feel like we’re like that with marijuana.”
Preventing ‘the next big tobacco’
A former drug control policy adviser to the White House under both the Democrats and Republicans, Sabet is the President and CEO of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a public health organization opposed to marijuana legalization and commercialization in the United States.
He said the sudden about-face by Ontario’s newly-elected Progressive Conservative government away from a public monopoly on marijuana sales to a mixed public-private is “a really bad move.”