Tony Dokoupil of NBC News has written the best mainstream news piece I’ve read on the Kevin Sabet’s misnamed Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana). Focusing on the co-founder, former Rhode Island congressman and cocaine/alcohol/oxycodone addict Patrick Kennedy, the piece is entitled “Treatment or Jail: Patrick Kennedy Wages Fierce Anti-Pot Crusade.” Dokoupil succeeds in getting Kennedy and Sabet to reveal their intentions so openly that they sabotage their credibility with any reader even slightly informed on the Drug War.

Dokoupil writes: Kennedy believes there is "an epidemic in this country of epic dimensions when it comes to alcohol and drugs.” He'd like to treat it all, but he’s convinced that the single biggest threat to America’s mental health is free-market marijuana.

We now have a majority in this country that knows marijuana is safer than alcohol. The president even thinks “marijuana is no more harmful than alcohol.” Besides alcohol, many Americans have seen the effects of crack, meth, heroin and prescription painkiller abuse with their own two eyes. But marijuana is the single biggest threat?

Kennedy then tells Dokoupil, “It [marijuana] takes you to the same place as cocaine or heroin. It just takes longer.”

So, then, marijuana is far less harmful, no? And if that “place” is death by overdose, body-wracking withdrawals and intense cravings then, no, marijuana does not take you to the same place. If that “place” is a black market drug dealer, then your statement makes sense, Mr. Kennedy.

Dokoupil describes the Project SAM platform of decriminalization for simple possession, with mandatory screening for “marijuana addiction” (regular use), mandatory “marijuana education” (scare propaganda), and a year in a “probation program” (regular pee tests), which, if failed, lead to jail. Kennedy explains, “Incarceration is a powerful motivator. That does it for a lot of people; it's the turning point: hearing that judge say treatment or jail.”

Yes, it is remarkable how pee tests backed by the threat of jail force pot smokers to quit. Why, it’s almost as if that “addiction” is fairly easy to break, huh? And considering how many pot smokers there are, their ease at breaking their marijuana “addiction” must do wonders for the drug court and rehab success statistics when it comes time to apply for that next funding grant.

In the government’s Treatment Episode Data Set -- Admissions (2011), which represents all admissions to rehabs that receive public funds (and in some states, privately-funded rehabs as well), they tracked 1.8 million of the nation’s 2.6 million in rehab. Of those 1.8 million, 700,000 rehabbers had used marijuana and 1.1 million had not. So about 2/5ths of all rehabbers have smoked pot.

Furthermore, 143,000 of the 700,000 marijuana rehabbers (about 1 in 5) only smoked pot; they weren’t flagged for any other drugs or alcohol. Another 230,000 used marijuana and alcohol, but no other drugs.  That makes pot-only rehabbers about 8% and pot-and-alcohol rehabbers about 21% of the total rehabbers. And of those pot-only rehabbers, about one-third are weekend tokers and over a third didn’t smoke pot the month before rehab. Here’s a comparison of how they all ended up in rehab:

Criminal Justice System Referrals:  44% if pot was one of your drugs; 28% if pot was not one of your drugs. 53% if you only smoked pot; 33% if you only used a drug or alcohol.

School / Employer / Community Referrals: 18% if pot was one of your drugs; 12% if pot was not one of your drugs.  25% if you only smoked pot; 11% if you only used a drug or alcohol.

Health Care Providers: 13% if pot was one of your drugs; 19% if pot was not one of your drugs. 7% if you only smoked pot; 17% if you only used a drug or alcohol.

Self-Referrals: 25% if pot was one of your drugs; 42% if pot was not one of your drugs. 14% if you only smoked pot; 39% if you only used a drug or alcohol.

In summary, if you smoke pot, you’re more likely to be forced into rehab by a court than people who use drugs and alcohol, who are almost three times as likely to admit themselves to rehab than pot smokers.  Employers, schools, and community are three times more likely to refer a pot smoker to rehab than medical professionals.  When marijuana is legal, rehabs lose almost four sentenced pot smokers for every one self-admitted pot smoker.  Now you know for whom Patrick Kennedy is fighting his anti-pot crusade -- the drug testing and rehab industries.

"Radical" Russ Belville is the host of The Russ Belville Show, which airs live at 3pm Pacific.