08/26/16 Jodie Emery

Century of Lies

This week on part two of our Seattle Hempfest special: reform beyond Washington state, with audio from Jodie Emery (Canada), Keith Saunders (MA/NH), Rachel Kurtz (OR), Danielle Muggli (MT), and Serra Frank (ID).

Audio file


AUGUST 28, 2016


DEAN BECKER: The failure of drug war is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors, and millions more now calling for for decriminalization, legalization, the end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century Of Lies.

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, and welcome to Century Of Lies. Century Of Lies is a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay.

We have a big show for you today, so let's get straight to it. August 19th, 20th and 21st was Seattle Hempfest. More than a hundred thousand people attended this massive protestival, a festival of music and politics for marijuana legalization and drug policy reform. The Hemposium is one of their stages, where they have panel discussions, keynote speeches, and the like. The panel we're about to listen to was titled, "Reform Beyond Washington." The speakers included Jodie Emery, publisher of Cannabis Culture; Keith Saunders, a member of NORML's Board of Directors, Serra Frank, from Idaho, Rachel Kurtz, from Oregon, and Danielle Muggli, from Montana. No further ado, let's get straight to it. The next voice you hear is going to be Jodie Emery, she's followed by Keith Saunders, and then Rachel Kurtz.

JODIE EMERY: Well, Canada is going to legalize marijuana. Yay! Sadly, it's 1984 in Canada, legalization is just what they're calling the new prohibition. Canada elected Justin Trudeau and the Liberal Party in October of last year, and part of the Liberal Party's platform was to legalize marijuana. This was part of the platform because the people, the members of the party, voted on legalization at their convention in January of 2012. So the Liberals had to reluctantly agree with legalization, but then they began to realize how valuable the marijuana vote is. People want legalization, and because in 2012 the United States, in Washington here and in Colorado, passed legalization, the Liberals are thinking, well, this is a sellable idea. And I decided to run, to be a candidate, for the Liberal Party of Canada, in Vancouver East, which is a major riding traditionally held by Libbie Davies, a wonderful opposite party member of Parliament, from the NDP. She had been there for 40 years advocating drug policy reform, and then she decided to retire.

So then the Liberals decided I couldn't be a candidate, but I still spent a year getting national media regularly in every medium, talking about legalization and why it's important, because of the civil liberties, because of the arrests that are unjust, because of the jobs and opportunities that are not being seen because of prohibition. So the Liberals said, okeh, legalization is great, and they decided to go ahead and they got elected, and then they started hearing from the interested parties. They knew what myself and my husband and the marijuana movement wanted, but they decided that the men with guns really have a very strong persuasion. The police. The police have talked to the Liberal Party, and they now have a former police chief of Toronto in charge of legalization, Bill Blair. This is the man who oversaw G20, the unjust arrests of innocent Canadians on the streets of Toronto many years ago, which has been found to be one of the biggest gross violations of civil liberties in Canadian history, and he's in charge of legalization.

The other person in charge is the lawyer for the Health Canada-approved licensed producers that were developed under the Harper government, which we know was not a government friendly to marijuana. So, legalization is going to happen, but unfortunately, the Liberals have now heard from the police and the mental health experts, and now they define legalization as this: strict controls and limits on marijuana, to limit and reduce access to marijuana, to prevent mental health issues from teens and young people, to introduce harsher penalties for those who operate outside the legal system. This doesn't sound like legalization, that's how you define prohibition.

So, we're very concerned in Canada, because we've recently had the Liberal government telling all of the police across the country, marijuana is illegal, continue arresting Canadians, continue raiding dispensaries. Enforce the law as it stands. And we're working on how to legalize, we'll get back to you next April.

For me, and for many, we're not content with that, and that's why Marc Emery, my husband, who spent five years in the United States here for financing legalization, he's home, and we've decided three months ago to finally start selling marijuana, openly, to all adults, healthy or sick, whatever personal reason you want. So Cannabis Culture has twenty years of history and activism, media, and public advocacy. We are now pushing the limits and saying, this is what legalization should look like, the freedom for all to access and use it as they see fit. No lists, no need for any sort of scrutiny. And that is what we're doing now.

Right before I came here, I went back to Toronto to reopen our store that got raided by police, and to hook up the generator because they cut our power, and to say we will not go away. It took civil disobedience, it took ignoring the law, and that's what we have to do now, more than ever, especially since Justin Trudeau is lying about legalization. So, this is my message. Canada sounds like it's good, and similar to how Washington, the message of legalization is good. We all know where the devil is, it's in the details, and we will forever and always be fighting for liberty, and we just have to keep pushing and take what you can get and always ask for more and I promise to keep doing that, so we don't have a colossal failure of legalization in Canada.

KEITH SAUNDERS: All right, my name's Keith Saunders. I am on NORML's Board of Directors. I'm a longtime advocate and activist in New England, former president of MassCAN. I am no longer living in Massachusetts though I'm still tied in with what's going on there. So I'm going to talk a little bit about what's happening in New England in particular, and lessons that it may have for folks back here in Washington.

One of the things that people failed to recognize very much is that it's more of a river than a shoreline. What we're dealing with here is in constant motion and change, and achieving things such as forms of legalization, forms of medicinal, and so forth, is no insurance that it's going to persist. Now, in New England, all of the states finally have some form of medical program. It took decades. We had early adopters in Maine and Rhode Island, the final adopter was New Hampshire, reluctantly two years ago, and they finally have opened their -- four dispensaries are operational. There are four dispensaries in the entire state. Massachusetts has six operational dispensaries.

We have a legalization initiative in Massachusetts and one in Maine. Massachusetts has a -- about in the low 50s percent support, the fear is that it's going to drop below that. Given past performance on decriminalization and medicinal referenda in Massachusetts, I'm not so worried. They've polled poorly beforehand and have both ended up with over 63 percent when it came to the vote. I think there's going to be a very strong draw for supporters, for progressives, for people, for Democrats in Massachusetts. I think the moral conservatives and older voters are going to be discouraged by the choice that they feel that they are presented with.

In Maine, we have a stronger performance in polling, at 60 percent of their legalization initiative. Both of these legalization initiatives will allow for home cultivation, importantly. The Massachusetts initiative will allow for a consume-on-premises provision. In Massachusetts, no city or town may outright ban any cannabis retail establishment, they may only zone them. There are significant fees that are attached, $35,000 to get your license, so it is, it's locking out the small scale provider, but it's not locking out the medium scale, at the expense of, you know, the high scale or price person.

And importantly, we also have a race in New Hampshire. Strategically, I move to New Hampshire to work on a campaign, a couple of campaigns actually. New Hampshire is an interesting state. Its motto is "Live Free Or Die." It was recently classified as the most libertarian of, or the one that has the most liberty according to Reason Magazine, a libertarian leaning publication. But New Hampshire is the only New England state that still criminalizes the possession of any amount of cannabis. I can testify to this firsthand because on February 15th, 2015, I was arrested and locked in a holding cell for about four hours because I possessed one ounce -- sorry, one gram of flower and less than one gram of oil.

I faced almost seven years in prison, and $70,000 in fines, because I was in a moving vehicle that also contained paraphernalia. They caught me with a bowl, a bud, some oil, in a car. That's seven years that you're looking at. Fortunately I had the resource to contact an attorney and retain them, and the attorney takes care of it, and more or less I plea down to simple possession of cannabis, a $350 fine, a $150 court fee, $3,000 for the attorney, and basically, what I would have gotten in Massachusetts for $100.

Yeah. So, it's still going on there. Live Free Or Die doesn't end the war. Now, however, strategically, New Hampshire is poised to flip. It is the state that has the only elected body, its legislature voted in favor of legalization. This is a legislative legalization. It got killed as inexpedient to legislate because of the opposition in the senate. That opposition in the senate is led by one person, an old school drug warrior, who was presented with the chance to decriminalize first time possession of a quarter ounce or less of cannabis, voted against it, he was the deciding vote, and when asked why he voted against it, his reason was, this is a war. That's how backwards he is.

I'm representing his opponent, Roger Tilton, who's running for his district, the 11th district. And Tilton needs to make up 2,400 votes. And if he does, then we flip the senate. If we flip the senate, we're going to get a bill on the governor's desk. That doesn't guarantee it's going to get signed, but it's going to be closer. Now, there are three candidates in New Hamphire, there's Joseph LaChance, who is the legislative representative who introduced the legalization that passed, there is Roger Tilton, who's running for that key senate seat, and there is Steve Marchand, who is running for governor on a strong pro-legalization, very public pro-legalization stance, and so we'll see how Marchand does in the primaries, and we'll see how these two do in the election.

One of the reasons we're out here is we're trying to solicit the existing businesses and industries to have the foresight to understand that they can't expand unless they expand markets, and they're never going to expand the federal market until they have enough individual states, and the only way to do that is to fund initiatives where there are initiatives, and to fund candidates where there are not.

RACHEL KURTZ: Yeah, I'll just -- I'll try to be pretty quick. I'm going to really just talk about Oregon, since we're now a legal state, just thought I'd talk about a few of the differences between Washington and Oregon. A lot of people know about what's happening in Washington, and probably hear about Oregon and how they're doing a better job there. I was an attorney representing clients getting licenses in Washington for years, and then moved to Oregon, so I definitely see the difference between the two. And I would agree that Oregon is doing a much better job of implementing their law. It was already a better initiative, in that it allowed home grows. So all adults can have four plants at home. I mean, right there is the key, you know, it doesn't feel like legalization when it's so -- you can't put a plant, a seed in some soil at your own house and try it out for yourself.

And that's really frustrating. I would say that's probably Washington's number one thing they need to deal with, is adding home grows. You know, there are still growing pains there, though. They had a pretty robust medical program, and when they started implementing the recreational laws, they realized that medical wasn't very regulated, either, so rather than doing like Washington, where they just said, well, let's just scrap medical and put everyone in the one system, they ended up creating just more regulations for medical. And then also creating the regulations for rec. And they overlap a lot, so that it's not confusing if you're say a processor, doing medical, and you want to do rec, they end up, you know -- it's very similar, so you're not -- you wouldn't have to change too much.

And they're also trying to allow there to be some crossover, so if a grower becomes, gets a recreational license, they can still have some patients that they provide for. So, unlike, you know, here, where when it first started you were just one or the other. And so, if you had been helping patients, well now you don't have patients anymore. So there you're able to still help out your patients, if you want, which is nice.

Another thing that's really great in Oregon that they don't have in Washington is the fact that in the law, it is considered an agricultural product. And, that protects the farmers a lot, when it comes to, you know, neighbors being annoyed with smells, it's like, they can't shut you down just for that, you know, this is an agricultural product, sometimes they -- it smells. Land use licensing, or zoning, and stuff, they can be in agricultural zones, so that's -- I know a lot of growers in Washington are facing that issue, that they do not consider it an agricultural product in Washington, and that's one of the growers' biggest fights here. So, it's like, all they have to do is -- I sent the language from Oregon to people, for, like, just show them in Washington, the state right below them is doing this, it's possible to do it.

Another thing that's working out better is just the agency that's regulating it. Here it's the LCB, the Liquor and Cannabis Board, and there, it's the OLCC, the Oregon Liquor Control Commission. And here, they just treat it like, you know, we're just here to regulate, basically, what can we do to make your life harder. And in Oregon, they're -- they want it to be a thriving industry. They're really proud of their craft industries, so breweries, distilleries, wineries, and so this is, they're really treating that as part of that culture. And they want the cannabis businesses to succeed, they want the small businesses to succeed.

Something else that Oregon did which is really unique was decide not to put any restrictions on out of state money. And, you know, all the other states have restrictions on that, and so in Oregon, there's none. So you can, you know, it's been helpful for small businesses who are having a hard time finding investors, they can now, you know, look outside of Oregon. And there's some resistance to that, I mean, I was resistant, because it's, you know, you kind of want it to be a homegrown industry, you don't want big companies coming in, and there's some of that. I mean, you definitely, you know, there's other, there's brands from outside the state that are now coming into Oregon and just building their brand, and they're not an Oregon company. But for the most part, I'd say most of the outside investors are really working with Oregon people.

And, I would say the number one reason for me that I didn't really oppose it too much was the fact that it saves the agency so much time. If they're not always trying to track down who are the real parties of interest. In Washington state, there's plenty of outside money, you just -- it's hidden, basically, the lawyers come up with these really creative ways to hide it, so it's really the lawyers making all the money. So instead, you're just kind of being transparent, that's like, you know, the -- yeah, I have out of state investors, you know, and they're not -- that's one less thing that the agency has to worry about, so they can hopefully get people licensed quicker, because it takes forever for people to get licensed.

I'll save any more information for Q&A, really, but I will just say that even though, you know, Oregon, you hear that it's going so well, it's hard down there. It's still -- it's like Jodie was saying, suddenly it's like, it seems like, almost like going backwards in a way, it's like, because you get all these regulations in place, instead, and, you know, it used to be you could go to a bar, you know, maybe smoke some pot on the porch, and now it's like less so, it's like, even, you're going to get in more trouble than you used to because it's now so regulated. It's kind of a funny way, where you feel like, I mean, even, you know, in Washington, it's suddenly like you're can't do all this advertising and stuff, it's like, clamp down even though it's legal. So

UNKNOWN: Now they seem to over-regulate.

RACHEL KURTZ: Yeah, over-regulation, for sure. And that, I mean, that's the federal government's fault, I mean, quite frankly, it's the federal -- you know, we're having to keep tabs on where it all goes because god forbid it leaks to another state, you know, and so that over-regulation, really I blame the feds for that.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Rachel Kurtz, before her Keith Saunders, and the first voice was Jodie Emery. They're speaking at Seattle Hempfest on a panel called Reform Beyond Washington. You're listening to Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

Now let's get back to that Hempfest panel. We have a couple of people left, Serra Frank from Idaho and Danielle Muggli from Montana.

DANIELLE MUGGLI: I'm Danielle Muggli, I'm working on the Yes on I-182 campaign. It's to help expand our current medical marijuana program that we have. Montana has actually had medical marijuana since 2004, and it was voted in by 64 percent of the people, you know, the voters in Montana. But what happened is, the Ogden Memo came in and said basically that the Justice Department wasn't going to be raiding growers anymore as long as they were in clear compliance with the law. So everybody's like, sweet, we're safe. 2010, our card numbers went from 4,000 to 28,000. And that just upset a lot of people. The legislature tried to repeal it, it didn't work. Well, it did work for a minute, and then it went back to normal.

We ended up voting in SB423, our current law. Basically, SB423 limits providers to only three patients each. You're not allowed to charge for your cannabis, so you have to provide everything for free, there's no barter system, you couldn't even trade a bag of dog food for cannabis. Right? It limits doctors to only 25 patients a year, to recommend to. If they go over that, they are automatically reviewed by the Montana Medical Board, at their own expense. And it's the only time that they're ever called on to pay for their own review. Instead of like inspections done by the state, we will be having unannounced searches.

So, for example, I'm a small time provider. I have a max of like nine patients. I should probably say, there was a bunch of injunctions put on the law so we could actually operate and provide to more than three patients, and to be able to charge for cannabis. I am a small time provider, nine patients. The thing is, is I grow out of my home. So, when they say an unwarranted search, does that mean that they can go into my bedroom closet? Or does that mean just the space that I have for my cannabis? It says during regular business hours. Well, I'm not that big so I keep a part time job, so does that mean while I'm at my other job they're allowed to come into my home and just have carte blanche? I don't know. It's completely screwed up.

Essentially, August 31st, SB423 will have all those injunctions that our Judge Reynolds put on removed, so we have to, I had to cut back to three patients. I am no longer allowed to charge for my cannabis. Unwarranted searches are going to happen, they're going to start doing inspections soon, and the thing that sucks is, we got I-182, the new medical marijuana program expansion, on the ballot, but that doesn't happen until November. So we have these, like, 90 days of this gray area where patients won't have access, growers won't be allowed to sell to them, at least not openly, and it's just, it's kind of scary, because, is what happened in 2010 going to happen again now? Are all of my friends and my patients and growers going to start going back to prison? I don't know.

It's not fair. Essentially, though, I just am trying to get the word out about I-182. Vote yes on it in Montana.

SERRA FRANK: Yeah. I'm Serra Frank, and I am from the island of prohibition. I'm here to tell you that prohibition is very alive and well in Idaho. You can go to jail for up to a year, and pay a $1,000 fine just for having the tube that your joint came in, in addition to the year and $1,000 fine for the joint itself.

January First, I attempted to light a joint on the capital steps in protest, just a week before that I had been arrested as a passenger in a car. Invoked all my rights, but they have this thing in Idaho where they arrest you for obstruction and delay if you invoke your rights. Apparently if you say anything that goes against what they're saying, they're going to arrest you and take you to jail.

And this happens even if they just ask you for identification. They'll take you to jail if you tell them no, where Idaho's not a stop and identify state. The only time you need identification for a law enforcement officer is if you're driving a vehicle or in a bar. Speaking of bars, Idaho just legalized for children to be in breweries now. They're decriminalizing underage drinking. But yet, as an adult, you will go to jail and you will have a criminal record and lose any financial aid you may have for school, just for a little bit of medicine.

But like I said, I'm done. I planned this protest rally for January First, when my daughter, Lily, had to move to California to attempt to become a medical patient down there. Unfortunately her father couldn't afford to live down there, and had to come back up to the northwest where it's a lot cheaper to live. But unfortunately, in Oregon and Washington, her condition does not qualify. In California, it's any chronic condition that lasts for six months and a doctor recommends, which is where you get the jokes or you know you can get it there for just a backache or a headache. Yeah, but you can also get it for things like staph infections, and ADHD, and anything that our children could use.

And then a week before the rally, I was arrested as the passenger. So all my friends told me, don't do it, they're going to use it against you, you know, they're going to say, oh, look, she's a repeat offender, and they're going to use it against you in court. And I said no, I need to do this. I need to do this because otherwise, it's going to get just brushed under the rug like every other marijuana charge, which, there's thousands in Idaho.

And nobody's going to pay attention to it. So I went to the capital steps, and there were 38 Idaho state troopers there waiting for us. And I invited everybody to come and smoke this joint with me. And of course, you know, I told them you don't have to, you know, I'm going to do this but you don't have to, and I gave a speech about civil disobedience, and pulled out my joint to light, and I felt like I was going to be tackled by the law enforcement who were rushing me on the right side. Luckily, my own, I guess private security, I didn't hire them but they were there, stopped them, and I was able to discuss with them, you know, well, what were you going to do? Well, we can't let you light that. Well, why not? Well, we can't let you. Well, I want to know who told you that you can't let me light that, but obviously they weren't going to let me light it, and like I said I didn't feel like being tackled to the ground on the steps of the capital building, so instead of lighting the joint, I just handed it to them, and I said I willfully disobey this law.

Because that's what it's going to take for Idaho to pay attention. Now, we're coming up to, I might have trial in November. Like I said, this was in January, First. And so we're almost a year into it and still no trial. There's still no hearing. There's still no discussion about why I want to talk about me being able to use my medicine in my home, and not have to move to Oregon and not have to move to Washington. But they delay it, because the way the system works is you have the crime control model and you have the due process model, and if you ask for the due process, which is your right to a jury, your right to evidence, your right to witnesses, they prolong it, and they push it off, trying to get you sick of fighting that system.

And most people jump into this crime control model, which just assumes that you are guilty because you are in the courtroom. And they work out with you, your public defender, your attorney, your highly paid attorney will go in and work out a plea bargain deal, even when you should be able to have access to this medicine because in Idaho we're lucky, we already had this case fought, we had a medical necessity case that was fought in Coeur d'Alene in 1990. So we're able to fight this. We're able to say, now wait a minute. It is necessary for me to use my medicine, and there is not a less offensive option for me. That's what they ask for is that less offensive option. Well, my last option from that pharmaceutical doctors was morphine implants. That was almost ten years ago. Can you imagine where I would be today? I wouldn't be here at Seattle Hempfest. I'd probably be in my bed or worse.

So we're done, in Idaho. And we are pushing forward. We have a new medical marijuana petition coming out, the Idaho Medical Marijuana Association. We just had our first Boise Hempfest last weekend. That was great. In the previous years, the police have congregated and kind of harassed us, but this year they were too busy dealing with Tour de Fat, which is a bicycle costume, let's get drunk event. And so they had 12,000 people over there, and they were just too busy, they rode through a couple of times and told us how great we were doing.

But our biggest thing is, we want to work with our law enforcement. We want to work with our lawmakers. We want them to understand that we're not going away, even if it takes lighting a joint on the capital steps year after year after year to prove it. And that's what we're going to do.

DOUG MCVAY: You just heard Serra Frank, from Idaho, and Danielle Muggli, from Montana, speaking about Reform Beyond Washington at Seattle Hempfest. Seattle Hempfest was the 19th, 20th, and 21st this year, more than a hundred thousand people braved the heat to attend this massive protestival. Hope to see you there next year. For now, that's all the time we have today. Thanks for joining us. You've been listening to Century Of Lies, we're a production of the Drug Truth Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, please give its page a like. Drug War Facts is on Facebook too, give it a like and share it with friends. You can follow me on Twitter, I'm @DougMcVay and of course also @DrugPolicyFacts.

We'll be back next week with thirty minutes of news and information about the drug war and this Century Of Lies. For now, for the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay saying so long. So long!

For the Drug Truth Network, this is Doug McVay asking you to examine our policy of drug prohibition: the century of lies. Drug Truth Network programs archived at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy.