What to Make of a Leading Anti-Cannabis Advocate Retweeting a Far-Right Podcaster?

    Given the racist past and present of cannabis prohibition in the United States⁠, an anti-legalization leader retweeting one of the top bigots of the so-called “alt-right” makes almost too much sense. And that is exactly what happened on June 22.

    Canadian far-right podcaster Stefan Molyneux (pictured above) tweeted a quote from an old article by Forbes columnist Travis Bradberry about a study that allegedly showed IQ reductions for under-18s who used cannabis. “I am proud to have never used drugs,” he added. “I have constantly steered my listeners away from them.”

    Kevin Sabet, president of Smart Approaches to Marijuana, latched onto this as an affirmation of his own viewseven though the rest of the tweet concerned Molyneux’s beef with Joe Rogan, another figure in the right-wing YouTube ecosystem.

    Sabet is one of the most prominent spokespeople for the counter-movement to marijuana legalization, having worked in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, and as a short-term advisor at President Obama’s drug control office. While Sabet has claimed that his end goal is not to incarcerate cannabis users, he teamed up in 2017 with former Attorney General Jeff Sessions to eliminate federal protection for state medical marijuana programsbecause, in Sabet’s words, it “really ties the hands of law enforcement.”

    Molyneux is a video blogger who made it big by riding on the global wave of populist far-right bigotry. He was recently discussed by the New York Times as a major factor in the radicalization of disaffected young white men, who feel their identitarian concerns have been overwritten by “political correctness.”

    It’s possible, of course, that Sabet was unaware of Molyneux’s views, and simply made a disastrous mistake. He has since deleted his retweet. Yet the respective backgrounds of the anti-cannabis movement and Stefan Molyneux make glaring the absence (at publication time) of any apology or retraction from Sabet.

    Molyneux is obsessed with IQ, but not because he is genuinely concerned about young people smoking marijuana. He instead endorses hateful “race science,” whereby each race is said to have its own inherent IQ range.

    This has included inviting Brian Boutwell onto his show. Boutwell, a criminology professor at St. Louis University, a private college in Missouri, was previously an assistant editor at Quillette Magazine, which brands itself as a “free speech” publication but is at the center of renormalization of race “science” and “scientific” discrimination. Boutwell has speculated that people of color, and especially Black people, have lower IQs. As he explained to Molyneux, he believes higher reported crime rates for Black populations are due to higher intrinsic criminality. In 2017, Quillette published an article from Boutwell titled “In Defense of Liberal Eugenics;” it has since been deleted from the site.

    Sabet may yet apologize or retract, but damage has been done. Other figures in his reefer-madness circles have engaged with Molyneux’s tweetsincluding professional alarmist Alex Berenson, though Berenson later retracted

    Screenshot of Stefan Molyneux via Youtube

    • Rory is the founding attorney of Fleming Law LLC, an immigration law boutique in Philadelphia. He has worked for a variety of criminal justice and harm reduction nonprofits, including Law Enforcement Action Partnership and Harvard Law School’s Fair Punishment Project, and provided campaign services for over a dozen district attorney campaigns. His articles have appeared in the Atlantic, Slate and many other outlets.

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