The rehabitionists at Project SAM (Smart Approaches to Marijuana) are going through severe withdrawals.

The Department of Justice (DoJ) has assured governors of Colorado and Washington that the federal government will not be suing to overturn their groundbreaking recreational marijuana programs. In a late August memo lauded by marijuana reformers, DoJ announced that if states legalize recreational or medical marijuana and abide by eight federal priorities for enforcement, US attorneys should not prosecute these state-legal marijuana growers and distributors.

This is bad news for the rehab industry that is so addicted to the steady flow of marijuana-using clients who are only there because prohibition forced them there, not because they believed they had a dependence on marijuana. According to the Treatment Episode Data Set -- Admissions (TEDS-A), well over half the people admitted for marijuana alone or marijuana plus alcohol were sent there by the criminal justice system. Many more are forced by their school or job to attend rehab when they’re caught with marijuana or fail a drug test. Meanwhile, less than one in five tokers in rehab, whether they drink or not, voluntarily admit themselves because they think they have a dependence issue.

In a letter sent yesterday to the Attorney General and others in the administration, a veritable “Who’s Who” of prohibition profiteers begged the government to reconsider its new marijuana policy. The nineteen signatories all represent some aspect of the drug court and rehab industry that stands to lose so much money from ending marijuana prohibition. Worse, from their perspective, sending someone without a serious drug addiction to rehab, who then miraculously stops smoking pot when pee tested under the threat of jail, does wonders for their statistical success rates. How successful would drug courts and rehabs be if they only dealt with people fighting serious addictions to cocaine, meth, and heroin?

SAM warns that the DoJ’s memo will lead to disasters of biblical proportion. There will be “large, for-profit, commercial marijuana wholesale and retail enterprises.” We suppose they are referring to legal businesses that create jobs and pay taxes, as opposed to the large, for-profit gangs and cartels selling marijuana now. There will be “expanded access to marijuana throughout communities.” They’re referring to well-lit, secure pot shops that check ID and inspect product, not the street corners, parks, parking lots, and schoolyards where marijuana is accessed now. “It will weaken youth perceptions” of marijuana’s dangers when it’s a legal product adults can buy, instead of being the egg in the frying pan, the gateway to heroin, and the reason your girlfriend left you for a cartoon alien.

Upton Sinclair once wrote, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his salary depends upon his not understanding it.” Rehabitionists will deflect the charge of rent-seeking by suggesting that they’d make more money under legalization, because of the marijuana addiction that would then run rampant. However, when four-out-of-five of your clients won’t face legal pressures to attend rehab under legalization, that means four more pot smokers would have to voluntarily enter rehab for every one that is doing so today. And that’s what Project SAM is really afraid of.