Sabet, an author, consultant, and former adviser to three U.S. presidential administrations, is taking part in a statewide effort to push for responsible marijuana policies.
He said the marijuana industry has the potential to be the next Big Tobacco — “another legal industry that relies on addiction for profits.” He argued that when companies are looking to profit off a product, they are inclined to minimize the adverse effects or dangers.
He also pointed out that today’s marijuana is not the same as it was decades ago, and that levels of THC (tetrohydrocannibinol — the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana) are far higher today.
“There is a lot of research showing the negative effects — whether it’s the increased risk of heart attack, the increased car crash risk, the increased mental illness, schizophrenia, psychosis — all of these things, they’re not being well publicized,” he said. “But, the industry is very good at publicizing whatever they want.”
Sabet is part of NJ-RAMP, short for NJ-Responsible Approaches to Marijuana Policy. He is working alongside Patrick Kennedy, the former Democratic congressman from Rhode Island and who now lives in New Jersey.
He put out a call for volunteers. “We really want and need people to be a part of this effort as we start talking about this,” he said. “Because the conversation, in case you missed last week, just sped up to 100 miles an hour now. We think we should at least slow that train down a little bit — let’s have at least a debate.”
Former alcohol executive, Lee Applbaum of Bacardi, recently joined as executives at Surterra Wellness.