July 26, 2016

Anthony Johnson, Marijuana Politics Blogger and Editor

Anthony Johnson

Anthony Johnson is our Blogger-in-Chief. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization. Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's marijuana legalization measure. He serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) and the Oregon Medical Marijuana Business Conference (OMMBC). He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm.

Green Rush Consulting Responds to The Oregonian Article Detailing Investigation

GreenRushConsulting

My experience in the cannabis movement and industry has brought me together with some of the best people that I have met in my life. Most cannabis law reformers and industry participants, in my experience, tend to be very open-minded and cognizant of the need to act in the best interests of the movement at large. Of course, there are bad actors, just as there are bad actors in any movement or industry. Noelle Crombie, just published a very thorough story detailing an Oregon fraud investigation involving the Cannacea and Green Rush Consulting. I welcome stories such as these as it is imperative for the cannabis industry to expose those that aren’t honest and trustworthy.

As Crombie reported, a letter from an Oregon regulator declared that Cannacea’s Tisha Siler had won approval of her applications for multiple medical marijuana dispensary licenses; this letter was then used to attract investors:

Cannacea soon had a group of backers who were drawn to the state’s new recreational pot trade and the tantalizing prospect of sharing in a booming market expected to generate an estimated $181.2 million this year.

That vision of wealth unraveled. Relationships soured between Siler, a self-described herbalist and holistic counselor, and many of those she hoped would bankroll her operation. The venture spiraled into nasty accusations, multiple court claims against Siler and her dispensary and demands from investors that she return their money, according to court documents and the state’s investigative file on the case released to The Oregonian/OregonLive in response to a public records request.

No one disputes that the letter was fake. But no one admits to writing it and state investigators can’t pinpoint the author.

I do not know all of the facts of the case, but in my experience with Zeta Ceti, owner of Green Rush Consulting, he has been a standup guy who cares about doing what is best for the cannabis cause. The biggest issue in this case is the fact that a fake letter was produced that exaggerated the number of licenses awarded to Ms. Siler. I, like others, look forward for the state to conclude its investigation so all of the facts can be known; it will be great if a forensic analysis can uncover the true source of the fake letter.

Green Rush Consulting sent out a press release responding to The Oregonian’s article, and it is in full below.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

JULY 11th 2016

Green Rush Consulting Response to Oregonian Article

http://www.oregonlive.com/marijuana/index.ssf/2016/07/pot_dispenary_is_target_in_ore.html

(Oakland, CA) – Green Rush Consulting (GRC) was recently mentioned in a news article in Oregon that concerns Cannacea, a retail cannabis store that operated in Portland, Oregon. In 2014, Cannacea contracted GRC to compile some of the documents used to communicate her business vision and operations plans to investors. GRC has since learned that some of the documents that Cannacea’s founder provided to GRC were fraudulent.

Officials with Oregon’s Office of Consumer and Business Services have been investigating Tisha Siler, CEO of Cannacea, and GRC has been cooperating fully with this investigation since it began last year. GRC only learned that the documents were fraudulent when the Office of Consumer and Business Services opened its investigation and contacted GRC regarding its relationship with Siler and Cannacea.

This is an ongoing investigation in which Green Rush Consulting maintains it was also a victim of Ms. Siler’s fraud. However, GRC made a mistake in that it was not robust enough in conducting strong due diligence on both contractor and client. GRC has paid dearly for those failures of 2014, in which the company implemented changes within the organization to ensure that nothing like this happens again. When the investigation is complete, we are confident that our credibility and reputation will be intact.

GRC has implemented substantially more rigorous background checks and due diligence policies on its employees, contract consultants, clients, and business partners. We strongly encourage all companies and individuals in the cannabis industry to do the same. White-collar crime in this industry is a threat to all of us, and we need to perform due diligence in every aspect of our business operations in order to avoid it and help prevent it. It is at the core of our mission to operate with integrity and to protect others in this space from the hard lessons we have learned.

Green Rush Consulting stands by our services and the strong reputation we have built over the last 4 years in this industry.  Since 2012, our company has helped clients win licenses for medical cannabis dispensaries and cultivation operations in eight states. Our team members have worked on licensing applications in 9 states – Arizona, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Jersey, Oregon and Washington – and we have never had an application disqualified. Our consultants have collectively participated in winning more than 30 state licenses nationwide.

While it is unfortunate that GRC was caught up in this fraudulent scheme, it gives us the opportunity to help raise awareness of fraud and white-collar crimes that do and could continue to infect this fast-paced, growing industry.

We want to thank the Oregonian for bringing this complex issue to light, as it is an important lesson for the entire cannabis industry. We sincerely hope that other companies and operators in the cannabis space will learn from this unfortunate situation that impacted GRC, and will do everything possible to protect themselves from individuals and organizations that could cause damage to their companies, brands, and the progression of the cannabis movement.

Green Rush Consulting LLC. Is located at 2700 International Blvd. Suite 25 in Oakland’s Fruitvale District. For more information call (510) 479-7327 or visit www.greenrushconsulting.com.

The Supreme Court Decimated the Fourth Amendment

US Supreme Court

Unfortunately, the United States Supreme Court just utterly decimated the federal Fourth Amendment, especially for those who are often targeted for law enforcement stops as Justice Sonia Sotomayor explained in her dissent: “This case allows the police to stop you on the street, demand your identification, and check it for outstanding traffic warrants — even if you are doing nothing wrong.”

The chilling effect of Utah v. Strieff, No. 14-1373, will be felt harshest by those that are frequently stopped unnecessarily by law enforcement, namely people of color, and low-income people, regardless of color. Of course, most bad political decisions unfairly harm the poor and communities of color, so we shouldn’t be surprised. However, to those that live under the constant threat of police encounters, it is hard to find a case that would do as much damage as the ruling in Utah v. Strieff completely excuses unlawful law enforcement stops.

As The New York Times describes the facts of the case:

A police officer, Douglas Fackrell, stopped Edward Strieff after he had left the house based on what the state later conceded were insufficient grounds, making the stop unlawful.

Officer Fackrell then ran a check and discovered a warrant for a minor traffic violation. He arrested Mr. Strieff, searched him and found a baggie containing methamphetamines and drug paraphernalia. The question for the justices was whether the drugs must be suppressed given the unlawful stop or whether they could be used as evidence given the arrest warrant.

By ruling that the evidence gained from an illegal traffic stop may be used, the United States Supreme Court just gave carte blanche to police forces all across the country, including those with troubling histories, such as those in Ferguson Missouri, and Oakland, California, to stop anyone they want and run their name for existing warrants. Of course, people of color, will be more likely to be stopped, and people battling poverty will be more likely to have outstanding parking tickets that they haven’t been able to pay.

Justice Sonia Sotomayor penned an epic dissent that describes the dangers of this terrible ruling:

“For generations, black and brown parents have given their children ‘the talk’ — instructing them never to run down the street; always keep your hands where they can be seen; do not even think of talking back to a stranger — all out of fear of how an officer with a gun will react to them. See, e.g., W.E.B. Du Bois, The Souls of Black Folk (1903); J. Baldwin, The Fire Next Time (1963); T. Coates, Between the World and Me (2015).

“By legitimizing the conduct that produces this double consciousness, this case tells everyone, white and black, guilty and innocent, that an officer can verify your legal status at any time. It says that your body is subject to invasion while courts excuse the violation of your rights. It implies that you are not a citizen of a democracy but the subject of a carceral state, just waiting to be cataloged.

“We must not pretend that the countless people who are routinely targeted by police are ‘isolated.’ They are the canaries in the coal mine whose deaths, civil and literal, warn us that no one can breathe in this atmosphere. They are the ones who recognize that unlawful police stops corrode all our civil liberties and threaten all our lives. Until their voices matter too, our justice system will continue to be anything but.”

While the Strieff case dealt with a baggie of meth, this tarnishing of the Fourth Amendment will fall hardest on the cannabis community, the most used illicit substance in the world. Civil libertarians often warn of slippery slope decisions, but it is hard to see how this case doesn’t lead to more and more unjust law enforcement encounters, and most tragically, more lethal police encounters.

 

Senate Committee Passes Cannabis Banking Amendment: Why Did California Senator Dianne Feinstein Vote No?

banking

I want to sincerely thank Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley for leading the way on bipartisan, common amendment that allows banking access to state-regulated cannabis businesses. Senator Merkley understands the dangers that the banking prohibition has on businesses. Not only does large amount of cash present an enticing opportunity for thieves, but also provides ample opportunity for money laundering and tax evasion.

From Tom Angell over at Marijuana.com:

The measure is now attached to the Fiscal Year 2017 Financial Services and General Government Appropriations Act, which heads to the Senate floor.

In a brief debate ahead of the vote, amendment sponsor Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) said that not allowing marijuana businesses to store their profits in banks is a public safety threat.

“It makes no sense to have bags of cash, and it’s an invitation to organized crime, an invitation to theft, and invitation to tax evasion,” he said.

Allowing banking services to businesses operating legally under state law should be a no-brainer.  Three Republicans joined 13 Democrats, as the banking amendment passed the committee vote by a narrow 16-14 margin. One big question: Why did California Senator Dianne Feinstein vote “No” along with 13 Republicans?

Cannabis commerce already generates more than a billion dollars in sales annually in the Golden State, and that is only medical. If legalization passes this November, then California cannabis commerce will dwarf the sales of other states.

I hope that Democratic primary voters choose a candidate that better represents Californians. Denying banking access to cannabis businesses is a harmful and dangerous policy and Senator Feinstein should be held accountable.

Oregon Legalizes Marijuana-Infused Products, Police Announce Patrols

Clackamas County Sheriff

The sale of marijuana flower to all adults started last October and the program has been a raging success for Oregon, creating thousands of jobs and generating millions of dollars in additional revenue. Even more jobs and revenue will be created after cannabis businesses started selling cannabis-infused edibles, extracts and topicals to all adults over the age of 21 on June 2nd. Coinciding with the sale of these additional products, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office announced that Oregon law enforcement would be using enhanced patrols this weekend with an emphasis on targeting marijuana impairment.

New Approach Oregon posted about the enhanced patrols and sent out an email to over 37,000 legalization supporters:

Yesterday was a historic day for the Oregon cannabis industry as cannabis-infused edibles, extracts and topicals went on sale to all adults. These new products will create even more jobs and generate more revenue for our state and will provide an avenue for some patients that cannot acquire a medical marijuana card, to utilize more products medicinally.

We here at New Approach Oregon want everyone to be safe and one of the biggest reasons to legalize marijuana is to improve public safety as our state can better prioritize resources on more serious crimes. Driving while impaired from any substance remains a crime in Oregon and the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office posted a bulletin yesterday that law enforcement officers will be conducting enhanced patrols following the sale of marijuana-infused products to all adults.

The bulletin makes some mistakes, such as stating that marijuana just started being sold commercially, but we agree that people shouldn’t drive impaired and that we should all do all that we can to minimize traffic fatalities. We want to keep Oregon roads safe, keep people out of prison and continue to help demonstrate to voters across the nation and globe that cannabis can be legalized without the sky falling, as prohibitionists like to claim. So enjoy Oregon’s fine cannabis products, but be responsible, don’t drive impaired and don’t let your friends drive impaired.

Sheriff’s Office warns: Don’t drive impaired while consuming marijuana06/02/16

Today (June 2, 2016), marijuana will begin to be commercially sold in the State of Oregon. The Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office would like to remind people to use marijuana in a responsible manner. Additionally, operating a vehicle after consuming marijuana in any fashion is just as dangerous and illegal as driving while drunk.

Marijuana is a substance that can adversely impair a person’s ability to safely drive a motor vehicle and can contribute to crashes, often resulting in serious injuries and even death. Marijuana can impair the user for a period of up to 24 hours — so please plan ahead to have a sober driver or a place to stay the night.

During this upcoming weekend, the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office will be joining other law-enforcement agencies in providing enhanced patrols in order to ensure the continued safety of the citizens we serve. Between June 2 and June 5, deputies assigned to this DUII task force will have an emphasized focus on enforcing traffic safety laws, while also detecting and arresting impaired drivers.

The men and women with the Clackamas County Sheriff’s Office would like to ask the public that if you or a loved one consumes marijuana, or any other intoxicating substance, please use a designated driver. Likewise, if you notice dangerous driving behaviors, please call 911.

Our goal is to have zero traffic fatalities in Clackamas County, and we wish everyone a happy and safe weekend.

Five Zero Trees
Enjoy all of the new products available to adults over the age of 21, but use responsibly and never drive impaired.

 

 

Everybody Bern! Bernie Sanders Rolling Papers

Bernie Sanders Rolling Papers

Despite the political establishment and mainstream pundits calling for Bernie Sanders to drop out of his race against Hillary Clinton, Bernie, and millions of supporters, are still fighting for the political revolution. Propelled by an upset victory in Indiana, Bernie Sanders, now sensing momentum behind his insurgent campaign, proclaimed, “I think that we can pull off one of the great political upsets in the history of the United States.” It’s time to roll with Bernie Sanders Rolling Papers!

There are many ways to show your support for Bernie Sanders and the political revolution that he is leading. Many cannabis law reformers have been supporting Sanders because he has called for an end to the federal war on the cannabis community by removing marijuana from the list of federally controlled substances. If you are a member of the cannabis community and you feel the Bern, you can help spread the message by using Everybody Bern! Bernie Sanders Rolling Papers.

Everybody Bern! Bernie Sanders Rolling Papers

You can purchase Everybody Bern! rolling papers by visiting www.everybodybern.com and purchasing a case of 22 packs of papers for just $70, which includes free shipping and handling throughout the continental United States. While Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have both stated that they would respect states that have legalized marijuana, they don’t go nearly as far as Bernie Sanders, who wants to end the failed and harmful policy of federal cannabis prohibition and reform the War on Drugs. Show your support for the only mainstream candidate calling to end the federal war that has been waged upon the cannabis community, check out www.everybodybern.com for Bernie Sanders Rolling Papers!

Everybody Bern! Bernie Sanders Rolling Papers
BUY A BOX OF 22 FOR $85 (SHIPPING INCLUDED!) OF THE BEST PAPERS IN THE WORLD


Quantity

Help convince Deschutes County Commissioners to respect the will of the voters who passed Measure 91.

New Approach Oregon Logo

As we previously mentioned, Deschutes County Commissioners are deciding whether to implement regulations for cannabis businesses – or force voters into a costly and divisive ballot measure fight through an “opt out” referral. Your voices are being heard and are making a HUGE difference already. County commissioners have received numerous emails and heard four hours of public testimony. Tomorrow, they will start deliberating on whether to implement sensible rules, creating jobs, generating revenue and fulfilling the will of voters or subvert Measure 91, hurt small businesses and push patients and consumers into the illicit, unregulated market.

As OPB reported:

Supporters of the proposed rules said the marijuana industry will bring economic benefits and tax revenue to the region.

Business owner Brian Jones said the marijuana industry will provide new jobs.

“These are living wage jobs,” said Jones. “Potentially lifelong careers, and will come with all of the perks and benefits of any other industry. It is clear that if the committee chooses to opt out, then it is opting out on jobs.”

County commissioners will deliberate over the proposed regulations this week, but may not immediately issue a decision about the proposed rules.

No matter where you live, please tell the Deschutes Board of County Commissioners to implement responsible cannabis business regulations now. Send an e-mail to board@deschutes.org and remind them that:

  • Deschutes County voters already approved Measure 91 because they support licensed and regulated cannabis businesses.
  • The Deschutes County Marijuana Advisory Committee has reached consensus on numerous issues, in particular on light, sound and odor regulations for cannabis farming. They have successfully addressed the primary concerns of neighbors with proposed regulations that safeguard the quality of life enjoyed by all in beautiful Central Oregon.
  • It is now time for the county to end the harmful delay on licensing for cannabis businesses. Deschutes County voters approved Measure 91 because they know that responsibly regulated cannabis businesses are the key to public safety, jobs and economic opportunity.
  • Voters do NOT want a costly and divisive “do over” ballot measure. A recent poll found that 53% of Deschutes County voters now support legal marijuana and a strong 61% want the county to implement regulations, versus only 28% of county voters who want to put the issue to a vote…again.

Please help the local businesses, patients and consumers that live in Deschutes County. By a more than 2 to 1 margin, voters want Deschutes County Commissioners to respect the will of the voters and implement rules and regulations. Email the commissioners and continue to make the voices of voters, consumers and patients heard loud and clear!

Thank you!

P.S. Over the coming days, weeks and months, will be sending out notices for other cities and counties facing bans as well as supporting candidates that are working towards sensible cannabis. If you are able, please make a donation and support us as we continue to work towards marijuana policies that work for all Oregonians.

(This blog post was originally posted at New Approach Oregon; reposted here with special permission)

Benefits of Gusbandry: Portland Web Series Takes on Relationships With Exes, Current Gay Husbands and Ganja

benefits of gusbandry

The Benefits of Gusbandry has been garnering some well-deserved praise recently as the Portland-based web series, featuring local acting and musical talent, is hilarious, fearless and provocative. A very adult comedy, the series features the protagonist Jackie, played by Totman (of MADtv fame), as she turns 40 and fosters a close relationship with River, a gay man who becomes her “gay husband,” or “gusband,” following a breakup. As Jackie navigates getting back into the dating world, River and cannabis are her constant companions. I cannot recommend this series enough. You can view all of 6 episodes on YouTube. I was honored to have a brief cameo with my wife Sarah Duff that included our stop into the Panacea dispensary in Portland. We are friends with creator Alicia Rose and lead actor Kurt Conroyd, so you may consider me biased, so you don’t have to take my word for it as The New York Times called the series a “delirious 16-minute masterpiece”:

The Benefits of Gusbandry This series by Alicia J. Rose, which has just posted its first-season finale (the sixth episode), works the straight-gay friendship thing deliciously, thanks to sharp writing and spirited performances by Brooke Totman and Kurt Conroyd. She’s Jackie, a world-weary straight woman in Oregon who has just turned 40, isn’t happy about it and tends to escape her discontent with marijuana, newly legalized. He’s River, who is gay, unattached and in the same age bracket.

They meet in Episode 1 and soon bond, helping each other through various crises and explorations. This dynamic — straight character with a gay BFF — has been around a while, but this rendition (like the one in Hulu’s caustic“Difficult People”) is more catty and crass than anything on network television, which gives the series a sharp edge. River is something of a stereotype, but that stereotype is one of Ms. Rose’s targets, along with pompous artists, weed aficionados, self-denigrating 40-somethings and gusbandry itself. The season finale is a delirious 16-minute masterpiece of pretension-puncturing.

Please check out this amazingly hilarious comedy that is raunchy, but realistically true to our modern scene. You will not be disappointed in a series that some have compared to “Broad City.” Hopefully, you’ll laugh as hard as I have and we’ll see more and more from these talented folks in future seasons of a show that, in my humble opinion, is more Portland than “Portlandia.”

The newly released “Benefits of Gusbandry” finale:

Maine Voters Will Get to Vote on Marijuana Legalization in November

Maine CRMLA

The marijuana legalization effort in Maine has undergone some ups and downs, with the secretary of state at one time wrongly invalidating thousands of initiative petition signatures. Just as we had hoped, Maine courts overturned the secretary of state’s decision and ordered a new count of the signatures. Thankfully, Maine voters will now have the opportunity to end the failed and harmful policy of cannabis prohibition this November.

The press release from the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol announcing qualification of their legalization initiative:

Maine Marijuana Initiative Officially Qualifies for November Ballot; New Poll Finds Solid Support Among Likely Voters

After a court-ordered review of petitions that it had previously invalidated, the Secretary of State’s Office determined initiative supporters submitted more than enough valid signatures to qualify

* Statement below from Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol Campaign Manager David Boyer *
AUGUSTA, Maine — State officials announced Wednesday that a proposed initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine has officially qualified for the November ballot.

After a court-ordered review of petitions it had previously invalidated, the Maine Secretary of State’s Office determined the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol submitted more than the 61,123 signatures that were needed to qualify.

Last month, the secretary of state informed the campaign that the initiative had been disqualified because only 51,543 valid signatures had been submitted. The campaign filed a lawsuit challenging the decision, and a Kennebec County Superior Court judge ruled in their favor earlier this month after learning state officials invalidated more than 5,000 petitions —which included more than 17,000 signatures from Maine voters that were validated by town clerks — without actually reviewing every petition in question. The petition was then remanded to the Secretary of State’s Office to review all of the disputed petitions and determine whether enough valid signatures were collected.

According to a new poll released this week by the Maine People’s Resource Center, nearly 54% of likely voters would approve the initiative if the election were held today. Only about 42% said they would oppose it. The full results are available at https://www.mprc.me/0416_referendums.

Statement from David Boyer, campaign manager for the Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol:

“This November, Maine voters will have the opportunity to adopt a more sensible marijuana policy. We are thrilled to finally start transitioning into the more substantive phase of this campaign. It has been a longer wait than expected, but nothing compared to how long the people of Maine have been waiting to end the failed policy of marijuana prohibition.

“It is time to replace the underground market with a regulated system of licensed marijuana businesses. It is time to redirect our state’s limited law enforcement resources toward addressing serious crimes instead of enforcing failed prohibition policies. And it is time to stop punishing adults for using a substance that is significantly less harmful than alcohol.”

# # #

The Campaign to Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol is supporting a 2016 statewide ballot initiative to end marijuana prohibition in Maine and replace it with a system in which marijuana is regulated and taxed similarly to alcohol. For more information, visit http://www.RegulateMaine.org.

Too Little Too Late? Bernie Sanders Hints at Elizabeth Warren as VP.

ElizabethWarrenBernieSanders

I’ve been a huge supporter for Bernie Sanders’ political revolution as his call to end federal cannabis prohibition, reform the Drug War and tackle civil rights abuses have been far and away the best of any mainstream candidate, especially after Republican Rand Paul dropped out of the race. Hillary Clinton, evolving from her unfortunate rhetoric in the early 1990s and 2008 presidential primary positions, has seemingly improved on cannabis policy and other criminal justice reforms, but she still lags behind the Democratic Party and the nation on marijuana legalization.

As the delegate math was looking bleak for Bernie Sanders’ attempt to to overtake the Democratic front-runner, even before Clinton won four out of five states on April 26th, Sanders has thrown out Elizabeth Warren as a possible running mate, a name that makes progressives salivate. As The Los Angeles Times reports:

“Elizabeth Warren, I think, has been a real champion in standing up for working families, taking on Wall Street,” Sanders said in an interview with MSNBC.

The Democratic presidential candidate said it’s too early to commit to a possible running mate, but that he thinks there are “many” qualified women for the position. He also reiterated that a presidential candidate needs to have “the guts” to take on Wall Street, perhaps Warren’s chief issue.

“The women of this country, the people of this country understand that it would be a great idea to have a woman as vice president, something I would give very, very serious thought to,” he said.

A Sanders-Warren ticket makes a lot of sense for a ton of reasons. Both progressives have shared a common distaste for Wall Street corruption and are champions of ending income inequality. Elizabeth Warren, even with much in common with Sanders, is seen as the more pragmatic Senator and she could expertly describe what needs to be done to implement Sanders’ domestic vision of ending Wall Street abuses and any notion of businesses are allowed to be “too big to fail.”

For criminal justice reformers, Warren has moved in the right direction and is open to marijuana legalization. Of course, many Democrats long to see a woman in the White House and a Warren vice-presidency would set up the progressive senator as a future commander-in-chief. As much as progressives would love to see a Sanders-Warren team campaigning for 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, we will likely be left wondering if this proclamation from Bernie Sanders was too little too late.

Featured Photo Credit: Getty Images

 

Tommy Chong to Discuss His Life and Future TODAY at the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference

Tommy Chong

Cannabis icon Tommy Chong will be capping off the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference (OMBC) in Eugene on April 24th with a celebrity interview by Steve Bloom, Editor-in-Chief of Freedom Leaf Magazine and publisher of Celeb Stoner. Chong and Bloom brought the house down at the International Cannabis Business Conference (ICBC) in San Francisco, leaving attendees entertained, engaged and learning tidbits that have mostly remained out of the public sphere. Tommy shared his thoughts on a range of folks from Cheech Marin (of course) to Bernie Sanders to the Jackson 5 to Donald Trump. Attendees at the OMBC can count on an amazing interview as Bloom and Chong will be looking to outdo themselves with new information and hilarious stories.

BernieSandersICBCBernie
Tommy discussed his support of Bernie Sanders with Steve Bloom at the ICBC. (Photo: Sunnie Day Sanchez)

I have a ton of respect for the career and activism of Chong and the way he has persevered and thrived over the years. If you are a fan of Cheech and Chong’s work, you will LOVE, the celebrity interview. If you have been living under a rock and have never heard of Tommy Chong, you will still LOVE the interview, because the man has amazing stories to tell about show business, cannabis business, prison, activism and politics.

TommyChongSunnieSanchezSarahDuff
Tommy takes time to meet fans, including Oregon advocates Sunnie Sanchez and Sarah Duff.

The OMBC will provide attendees the latest information on Oregon’s marijuana law, both medical and recreational systems, with experts from all areas of the industry and lawyers on hand to answer those pesky questions that need answered. The Oregon Legislature just made changes to the state’s marijuana laws, new rulemaking procedures will start soon that will further change the laws, there will be more changes in the 2017 legislative session and cities and counties are enacting a variety of regulations. You will leave the OMBC with the knowledge that you need, unique networking opportunities and with a one-of-a-kind event experience that includes the stoner legend Tommy Chong.

The OMBC will be held at the downtown Eugene Hilton. Tickets are currently just $149, although you can tag on a VIP event on Saturday night for another $100. These ticket prices end on April 9th, so get your tickets before prices go up or the event sells out! Mixing cannabis business, politics, culture and activism, the OMBC is an Oregon marijuana conference like no other and we here at Marijuana Politics are proud to help the event.

Portland Mayoral Candidate Jessie Sponberg Declares “Pot Grows Jobs” In Great Campaign Video

JessieSponbergVideo

For those that are tired of politics as usual Jessie Sponberg, is a breath of fresh air. The Portland, Oregon, activist is running for mayor against a sitting state treasurer, a county commissioner and twelve other candidates. While Oregon Treasurer Ted Wheeler is considered the favorite, Sponberg has all of mayoral candidates beat, and maybe every candidate in history, in best hip-hop campaign video.

Sponberg is widely known among Portland activist circles as someone who takes on the establishment, fighting for the rights of the homeless, against police brutality and public ownership of Oregon’s water supply. I met Jessie during the Measure 91 marijuana legalization campaign when he asked me to be on a segment of his “Fight Church” talk show that he broadcasted on the internet. I have found Mr. Sponberg to be a very passionate advocate that cares deeply for the city of Portland. I was inspired by Jessie to donate clothing to one of his many homeless outreach efforts and came away amazed at the amount of work that he does for the less fortunate in this city.

In my opinion, Portland is very fortunate to have an activist Jessie running against a strong candidate like Ted Wheeler. Both Sponberg and Wheeler voted “yes” on Measure 91 and have touted the economic benefits that the cannabis industry can have for the city of Portland. To my dismay, Multnomah County Jules Bailey voted against legalization, believing that Oregon needed to wait longer before ending the failed and harmful policy of cannabis prohibition. Bailey has also rightfully taken heat for waffling on whether police officers that use deadly force get to receive 48 hours notice before answering any questions from internal investigators. Bailey was also on the receiving end of a blistering critique from Sponberg for not adequately addressing the housing crisis faced by local residents.

Whether Jessie Sponberg can pull off one of the greatest political upsets of all time in the Portland mayoral race is to be seen, we’ll know for sure on May 17th (get registered to vote by April 26th, Portlanders). However, if the race is decided by best campaign video, I think that Mr. Sponberg would win in a landslide.

Check out the video, which includes many of Sponberg’s activist causes, including a banner that states, “Pot Grows Jobs”:

This 4/20, Easy to Notice That Marijuana Is Mainstream

Right to Grow Protest

First off, happy 4/20 from Marijuana Politics! It is almost hard to remember that 4/20 or 4:20 or 420 was a secret among the cannabis community. Today, with polling numbers over 50% and a multitude of media outlets providing sensible to positive coverage of marijuana, all things cannabis, including our “secret” stoner holiday has gone mainstream.

The amount of mainstream press has been rather mind boggling today, and this list is probably just the tip of the iceberg: Fortune and Forbes ran stories on cannabis today, MSNBC’s Meet the Press had a segment on “National Weed Day,” ABC News covered the formation of the Minority Cannabis Business Association and Congressman Earl Blumenauer is even marking the holiday, asking for $4.20 donation to the “Earl Cannabis Fund” to help support his political efforts to legalize cannabis across the nation. And of course, #Happy420 has been trending on social media. It used to be huge news for the cannabis community when a major media outlet or politician mentioned anything reasonable about marijuana; now, it is hard to keep up with all of the attention. The embrace among mainstream entities isn’t just anecdotal either, as polling backs us up, with yet another landmark survey released on April 20th:

According to a new CBS News poll, 56 percent of Americans support the legalization of the drug, up three points from 53 percent. More Americans admit to have tried marijuana too — with 51 percent saying they have tried the drug — up from 43 percent last year.

The steady growth in support for marijuana legalization implicates a shift in public opinion on the drug over the last three decades. According to the poll, only 27 percent of the population supported legalizing marijuana in 1979. Numbers didn’t begin to tip in the favor of marijuana legalization until after 2010, with favor percentages breaking into the slight majority between 2012 and 2015.

Among demographics, younger Americans are the most supportive, with 71 percent of people under 35 voting in favor of legalization, according to the poll. Only 31 percent of Americans 65 and older supported legal marijuana use.

The business angle of marijuana legalization certainly makes headlines and has helped make inroads with voters and politicians, but the cannabis community has always been about freedom first and foremost and compassion for our patients, so it is imperative that the community holds onto its true values. Unfortunately, too many states and localities, even in those with progressive marijuana laws, are imposing barriers that prevent small home cultivation, for personal or even medical use. Thankfully, many members of our community are organizing and speaking out.

We’ll be covering the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference this weekend, and when you see attendees and listen to speakers at such a conference, it is clear that the cannabis industry has support across many demographics, and isn’t a niche business any longer. What you will also see at the OMBC, and at cannabis events across the nation, are many people who are fighting to keep marijuana business opportunities accessible to mom-and-pops and ensure that patients have safe access to a safe medicine.

The mainstreaming of marijuana is an overall positive, as it will lead to fewer nonviolent people in prison, more patients with safe access and a better prioritization of our law enforcement resources. But mainstream society poses obstacles and problems as well as big-moneyed interests seek to use their money for financial gain, potentially not caring about those that will still end up in handcuffs for violating a relatively minor regulation or the patient that can no longer afford their medicine. However, the cannabis community at large has proven to be compassionate and resourceful, meeting obstacles and finding ways to advance the goals of protecting people from prison and taking care of patients. This 4/20, it is good to celebrate how far we’ve come, but also to think about how we maintain the soul of the cannabis community as move into mainstream society.

 

Dr. Carl Hart Keynotes the OMBC Today!

CarlHartICBC

Dr. Carl Hart is a neuropsychopharamacologist at Columbia University, where he conducts research and serves as a professor for both undergraduate and graduate students in neuroscience, psychology, and pharmacology. The first tenured African-American professor at Columbia University, Dr. Hart has dedicated his life to reducing public health harms. He serves as a board member of the Drug Policy Alliance and is one of the best advocates for ending the failed and harmful policy of prohibition.

As a researcher, Dr. Hart has studied the impact of drugs and has done great work destroying Drug War myths that have stigmatized users and helped implement harmful policies that disproportionately hurt black communities. I was first inspired to become an advocate for cannabis law reform after seeing my black friends treated more harshly for minor marijuana offenses and statistics back up Dr. Hart, so I completely agree with his worldview. I was fortunate enough to speak with Professor Hart for a few minutes less than a week before he delivers the keynote address at the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference (OMBC) on April 24th.

After studying the impact of drugs, he has come to the conclusion that prohibition does more harm than good, “I’m most concerned about people’s health and the most dangerous concern are the adulterants and the only way to address the adulterants is to legalize the market,” Dr. Hart explained to me.

The role of people of color in the cannabis industry is an important subject as the War on Drugs has left many unable to enter the market due to previous drug offenses. When I asked Dr. Hart what are some of the things he would like to see the emerging cannabis industry do to assist communities of color, he stated, “One of the things that we can do is highlight the inconsistencies that legalized states are doing with what is happening with marijuana arrests around the country. Marijuana is still the number one reason for drug arrests. The country is still in the mindset that it is still a dangerous drug. No one is saying that it is innocuous, as driving a car can be dangerous, but it isn’t so dangerous that its prohibition should ruin lives.”

“Out West we are having legal marijuana, but in other parts of the country, we are seeing marijuana implicated in tragic cases like Sandra Bland. Ramarley Graham was shot in the Bronx because cops thought that he was selling marijuana. The Graham killing was right before Trayvon Martin, yet another example where marijuana was blamed as George Zimmerman claimed that it made Trayvon Martin aggressive.”

 

I believe that my talk with Dr. Hart was the first that I had heard of Ramarley Graham and I cover civil liberties issues for a living. It is so tragic that there are so many unnecessary deaths like Graham’s, Bland’s and Martin’s.

Dr. Hart continued, “The industry should advocate for sensible laws across the nation, help people of color be involved, and call on other industries to do the same thing, to follow our lead. We become morally bankrupt if we don’t stand up for the underdog and say, ‘Not in our country. This shit is wrong. We are respectable people and police shouldn’t be giving carte blanche to perpetuate these brutalities.’ By leading by example the cannabis industry can help improve laws across the country.”

Anyone that spends  a few minutes listening to Dr. Carl Hart will come across impressed as the man knows the science and is passionate about using his knowledge for positive reform. You can learn more about Carl Hart on his website and if you can make it to the Eugene Hilton for the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference on April 24th, you will not be disappointed by him or the informative program lined-up. (Not often you get to kick-off an event with Dr. Carl Hart and close with Tommy Chong!)

Check out Dr. Carl Hart debating cannabis with Bill O’Reilly. Dr. Hart comes on at 3:57.

#PrimaryDay in New York! Bernie Sanders’ Political Revolution Continues Regardless

BernieSandersItsARevolution

Bernie Sanders has had a tough road to the Democratic nomination all along, but he has been keeping hope alive by winning 8 out of the last 9 contests. Sanders’s insurgent campaign enters a tough stretch that includes #PrimaryDay today in New York and five other northeastern states in one week. The political revolution that Sanders is leading depends upon independents, first-time voters and young voters calling for change and these upcoming northeastern primaries are mostly closed to independents. New York has the most restrictive primary voting laws as registered voters had to have registered with the party last OCTOBER to vote for a primary on April 19th, leaving many independents disenfranchised. (Personally, I have a problem with closed primaries as candidates are ultimately running to represent everyone and all taxpayers are footing the bill.)

Regardless of what happens today in New York, or really the rest of the nominating process, Bernie Sanders has already accomplished so much more than anyone really thought that he would. More importantly, the movement that Sanders is leading is bigger than any one person and folks across the nation will continue building upon this momentum.

The revolution of young voters, online community and small donors that support Sanders is much greater than the insurgent movement of Howard Dean in 2004, another Vermont politician that railed against the establishment. While he hasn’t built the same coalition as then-Senator Barack Obama did in 2008 when he defeated front-runner Hillary Clinton, Sanders’ army of small donors has surpassed that of the Obama campaign.

This political revolution, that includes ending federal marijuana prohibition and the greater Drug War, will only grow as the millennials overwhelmingly supporting Bernie Sanders move up into the next age bracket over the next years and are replaced by a new wave of young voters. Young voters fuel the fights for civil liberties and equality. Young voters are those that are sent to war abroad and feel the brunt of a war waged upon our own citizens at home, so it makes sense that they lead the anti-war movement as well. So members of this political revolution, vote this #PrimaryDay and in every election. We may not win every election, but we are winning the war.

Congressman Ted Lieu Endorses Let’s Get It Right California Campaign to Legalize Cannabis

Congressman Ted Lieu

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA) has been backed by some political and activist heavyweights and it got announced a big endorsement today from California Congressman Ted Lieu, who represents the 33rd congressional district out of Los Angeles County. Representative Lieu isn’t new to cannabis activism, as he has previously led a bipartisan effort to decrease funding for the DEA’s eradication of marijuana plants. The California representative is joining the growing list of bipartisan legislators in Congress working to reform our nation’s marijuana laws for the better.

The AUMA, backed by California political powerhouses like Lt. Governor Gavin Newsom, Napster founder Sean Parker and the California Medical Association, is definitely compiling mainstream political support needed to win at the ballot box this November. Throw in Drug Policy Action, the Marijuana Policy Project of California, and NORML and the legalization effort also has the support of major activist organizations as well.

The effort to legalize marijuana across the nation is clearly picking up steam and all eyes will be on California this November, one of the top economies in the world. Adding California to the list of states with legal cannabis will add many more legislators fighting for legalization, or at least states’ rights, in Congress.

Here’s the press release announcing the endorsement of Congressman Lieu by the Let’s Get It Right California campaign:

 

LetsGetItRightCalifornia

CA’S ADULT USE OF MARIJUANA ACT ENDORSED BY RESPECTED CONGRESSMAN, MILITARY VETERAN TED LIEU

AUMA is “fiscally responsible, smartly builds on what California has already done” & “provides necessary protections for children, workers, local governments, law enforcement and the environment”

TORRANCE, CA—Today, respected congressman and military veteran U.S. Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) announced his support for the statewide ballot measure known as the Control, Regulate and Tax Adult Use of Marijuana Act (AUMA).

The son of Taiwanese immigrants, Lieu has won awards as a military prosecutor, an advisor to U.S. Air Force commanders and as a law student and private attorney.

As a congressman, he serves on the House Budget and Oversight Committees.

Last year, he introduced bipartisan legislation to save taxpayer dollars by blocking the Drug Enforcement Administration from financing its Domestic Cannabis Eradication and Suppression Program through civil asset forfeitures.

“I’ve reviewed the Adult Use of Marijuana Act and believe it creates a legal, responsible and regulated framework for adult use of marijuana that is fiscally responsible, smartly builds on what California has already done with medical marijuana and provides necessary protections for children, workers, local governments, law enforcement agencies and the environment,” said Lieu.

“As a policy, marijuana prohibition has wasted taxpayer resources while failing to protect our communities,” he continued.  “The Adult Use of Marijuana Act represents a vastly superior and long overdue new approach.”

Lieu joins California Lieutenant Governor Gavin Newsom and a rapidly-growing and diverse coalition, including physicians, environmental leaders, business owners, small farmers, civil right groups and social justice advocates, in support of California’s consensus ballot measure to regulate adult use of marijuana.

His endorsement comes on the heels of a recent report by the respected Public Policy Institute of California (PPIC) which outlined the importance of AUMA’s key provisions, drawing lessons from Washington and Colorado and including maximum regulatory flexibility, strong data collection, reporting and oversight, unprecedented safeguards for children and a restrictive regulatory structure.

The Adult Use of Marijuana Act is a consensus measure based on recognized best practices and recommendations from hundreds of engaged citizens and organizations.  It includes strong safeguards for children, workers, local governments and small businesses and strict anti-monopoly provisions and the toughest warning label and marketing-to-kids laws in the nation.

It also closely adheres to the Lieutenant Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Marijuana Policy and the new medical marijuana laws recently passed by a bipartisan majority of the Legislature and signed by Governor Brown (SB 643, AB 266 and AB 243).

AUMA has been endorsed by the California Council of Land Trusts, Drug Policy Alliance, Marijuana Policy Project, California Cannabis Industry Association, California Medical Association and California NAACP, and national NORML, among others.

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