Eight states now have legalized adult-use marijuana and 29 states allow for medical marijuana, but there is still a discrepancy between state laws and the 1970s-era federal law, which continues to outright ban marijuana. Experts on both sides of the issue agree federal laws should be changed to adapt to modern realities, but disagree fiercely about how to do that.
Should we legalize like alcohol? Commercialize like tobacco? Decriminalize? Enforce prohibition?
Hear two insiders amicably agree to disagree about what might come next for the future of marijuana in an America with Donald Trump as president.
Aaron Houston, 35, co-founded Marijuana Majority and is a nationally recognized expert on drug policy and marijuana law, currently serving as a strategist for Ghost Group, a private equity company that owns marijuana-related technology companies. Between 2010-2013, as executive director of Students for Sensible Drug Policy, Aaron coordinated the efforts of students on more than 200 campuses worldwide, and from 2005 to 2010, he served as the only full-time marijuana legalization lobbyist on Capitol Hill. His work on Capitol Hill was chronicled in a 2007 Showtime original documentary, In Pot We Trust. He’s appeared as a guest on NBC’s Today show, The Colbert Report, and has commented on marijuana law on CNN, FOX, MSNBC, and CNBC.
Aaron managed the grassroots campaign during the 2008 presidential primary season that led to then-Senator Barack Obama pledging to end the DEA’s raids on medical marijuana patients and providers. He led the effort to pressure the Department of Justice to formally issue written guidelines on medical marijuana by testifying before Congress and working with officials to draft policy.
A co-founder of SAFER, a Colorado-based marijuana legalization organization, Aaron played a key role in passing Amendment 64, the state’s marijuana regulation measure approved by voters in 2012.
Dr. Kevin Sabet, 34, was dubbed the “quarterback of the new anti-drug movement” by Salon Magazine and is a former three-time White House drug policy advisor. He currently is the Director of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM), which he co-founded with Patrick J. Kennedy. He is also the Director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida and an Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine. He is the author of Reefer Sanity: Seven Great Myths About Marijuana (2013, Beaufort) and a consultant to numerous domestic and international organizations, including the United Nations, through his company, the Policy Solutions Lab.
From 2009-2011, Dr. Sabet served in the Obama Administration as the Senior Advisor at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). He remains the only staff member at the White House drug policy office to hold a political appointment in both the Bush and Obama Administrations. He also served in the Clinton Administration.
Dr. Sabet is regularly invited to give testimony to governments, he is a frequent contributor to opinion-editorial pages worldwide, and he has appeared on every major network and cable news channel. As a Marshall Scholar, he received his doctorate and masters degrees in Social Policy at the University of Oxford and B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley.
“The debate went really well…The presenters did a fantastic job!” – Zachary N. Clark, Director of Student Activities and Assessment – Indiana University of Pennsylvania
“This debate was probably the best program I have seen in my time working in higher education. It was great for students to see that two professionals with very different perspectives can have a debate that’s passionate, yet civil. Both Aaron and Kevin were excellent to interact with. I think students were initially worried that it might be awkward to have dinner with both of them together, but seeing how well they got along and how they could both acknowledge where they agree and disagree was very powerful for the students. Overall, a great program and I would recommend it to any campus. We filled the house! Student Affairs – Penn State Berks – September 2014
“The topic of pot attracted a near full house to NMU on March 31st. The crowd got a concentrated dose of mind expanding wisdom from our two marijuana experts. And the only thing that got lit up was their ideas.” Student Enrichment – Northern Michigan University – March 2014