About Kevin Sabet

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Dubbed the “quarterback” of the new anti-drug movement by Salon Magazine, Kevin A. Sabet, Ph.D has over 18 years experience working on drug policy. Dr. Sabet is the Director of the Drug Policy Institute at the University of Florida and an Assistant Professor in the College of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry. With Patrick J. Kennedy, he is the co-founder of Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). He is also a policy consultant to numerous domestic and international organizations through his company, the Policy Solutions Lab. His current clients include the United Nations, where he holds a senior advisor position at the Italy-based United Nations Interregional Crime and Justice Research Institute (UNICRI), and other governmental and non-governmental organizations. He also recently served as the only non medical doctor on the writing committee establishing the official position on marijuana legalization for the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM).

From 2009-2011, he served in the Obama Administration as the Senior Advisor to Director Kerlikowske at the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP). Representing his non-partisan commitment to drug policy, he previously worked on research, policy and speech writing at ONDCP in 2000 and from 2003-2004 in the Clinton and Bush Administrations, respectively. He remains the only staff member at ONDCP to hold a political appointment in both the Bush and Obama Administrations.

Dr. Sabet is a regular contributor to opinion-editorial pages worldwide, including the Washington Post, Huffington Post, New York Times, Vancouver Sun, San Francisco Chronicle, Seattle Times, CNN, CNBC, and more than a dozen other media outlets. His first editorial since leaving ONDCP, published in the Los Angeles Times in September of 2011, earned him a “Five Best Columns” distinction by The Atlantic.

In his most recent senior position at ONDCP, Dr. Sabet advised Director Kerlikowske on all matters affecting priorities, policies, and programs of the National Drug Control Strategy. He was one of three main writers of President Obama’s first National Drug Control Strategy, and his portfolio included leading the office’s efforts on marijuana policy, legalization issues, international demand reduction, drugged driving, and synthetic drug (e.g. “Spice” and “Bath Salts”) policy. Dr. Sabet represented ONDCP in numerous meetings and conferences, and played a key role in the Administration’s international drug legislative and diplomatic efforts at the United Nations.

Dr. Sabet has published widely in peer-reviewed journals and books on the topics of drug policy, cocaine sentencing, legalization, marijuana decriminalization, medical marijuana, addiction treatment, drug prevention, crime, law enforcement, and other issues. Since consulting in the Fall of 2011, he has been quoted in over 15,000 news stories relating to drug policy. Dr. Sabet first offered testimony on drug policy to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee in 1996.

As a Marshall Scholar, he received his Ph.D. and M.S. in Social Policy at Oxford University and B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Berkeley. He currently lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts with his wife, Shahrzad, a Ph.D. candidate at Harvard University.

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Legalizing Marijuana Just Isn't a Good Idea for America

Legalizing Marijuana Just Isn’t a Good Idea for America

September 4, 2014 with

Former federal drug agency advisor says no matter the arguments in favor of the legalization of marijuana, he’s not buying it, and it’s not good for America

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