CONTACT Meet Project SAM - Dr. Christian Thurstone

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.


About Chris Thurstone

Dr. Christian Thurstone is one of only a few dozen physicians in the United States who are board-certified in general, child and adolescent and addictions psychiatry. He is Director of Behavioral Health Services at Denver Health and a professor of psychiatry at the University of Colorado, where he conducts research on youth substance use and addiction and serves as director of medical training for the university’s addiction psychiatry fellowship program. You can read more about him here.

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