Meet Project SAM

Jan 06, 13 Meet Project SAM

Having sat through two meetings of the Colorado task force I have been appointed to by Gov. John Hickenlooper to recommend a regulatory framework for recreational marijuana use in this state, it is clearer to me than ever that our nation needs to have far more educated and honest debate about this drug.

It is also clear to me that marijuana is very poorly understood and that public discourse is dominated by people who traffic in junk science — from economic analyses that are deeply flawed and/or lacking the vitally important perspective of medical science and public health, to bogus medical claims made by people with obvious conflicts of interest. Sadly, what they boldly assert is often amplified and broadcast without thorough scrutiny and analysis by journalists — who, for the most part, lack professional training that would help them spot the fakers and shysters to deliver work that is accurate, not merely “balanced perspective.”

It is for all of these reasons — and many others — that I support Project SAM and am honored to have been asked to serve on its board, chaired by former U.S. Rep. Patrick J. Kennedy, Jr. I hope you’ll learn about SAM by heading to

SAM stands for Smart Approaches to Marijuana — and that’s what we need right now. We certainly don’t need more lies spun for personal, professional, economic, financial or political gain. We need marijuana policy based on reputable science and sound principles of public health and safety.


  • believes in an approach that neither legalizes, nor demonizes, marijuana.
  • rejects dichotomies — such as “incarceration versus legalization” — that offer only simplistic solutions to the highly complex problems stemming from marijuana use and the policies surrounding it.
  • champions smart policies that decrease marijuana use — and do not harm marijuana users and low-level dealers with arrest records that stigmatize them for life and in ways that make it even harder for them to break free from cycles of substance dependence.

I invite you to support SAM. You could start by liking the alliance on Facebook. It would be an honor to work with you in this cause, too.



  1. As if your lovely husband does not disclose his opinions while clearly having a conflict of interest? Your husband makes money treating people for “addictions” to marijuana. If marijuana were treated as the benign plant it is by the federal government and the rest of the world, he would be very nearly out of business.

    • Thanks for writing, Kate.
      Marijuana is addictive, and marijuana addiction is the No. 1 reason people your age are admitted to substance abuse treatment in the United States — so no need to use those quotation marks.
      Dr. Thurstone welcomes people putting him out of the addiction-treatment business — something that will happen when people stop struggling with addiction. Unfortunately, where marijuana is concerned, that’s just not happening. The number of young people referred to his Denver clinic has nearly quadrupled since 2009, and two more therapists are expected to join the staff there in coming weeks. If anything, we speak very far outside our economic interests when we encourage people to steer clear of drug use.
      This increase in business, not only for Dr. T. but for addiction-treatment-specialists in Colorado, has coincided with the rise in public sentiment that marijuana is merely a “benign plant.”
      And yes, the quotations there are entirely appropriate.

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