07/06/22 Vivian McPeak

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Vivian McPeak
Seattle Hempfest

Vivian McPeak is an American peace, social justice activist, cannabis rights activist, and musician. In Seattle, Washington. Mcpeak founded the Peace Heathens in 1988, a Seattle community action group. McPeak and Gary Cooke organized the first Seattle Hempfest in 1991, the 2-day event has grown to become the world's largest cannabis policy reform rally. McPeak, who is director of Hempfest, performed with the rock band Stickerbush in the 1980s.

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07/03/19 Vivian McPeak

Century of Lies
Vivian McPeak
Seattle Hempfest

On this edition of Century of Lies we speak with Vivian McPeak,Executive Director of Seattle Hempfest, about partial success in an ongoing battle with Washington state over free speech issues; plus we
speak with Michael Krawitz from Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access about moves at the international level to reschedule cannabis.

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JULY 3, 2019

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

DOUG MCVAY: Hello, and welcome to Century of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of

Well, this week we're going to talk to Michael Krawitz. He's with Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, and he's been very active on the issue of medical cannabis access, for veterans and non-veterans alike, on the international stage as well as within the US.

So we're going to talk to him about what's been happening over in Vienna, that Commission on Narcotic Drugs meeting in which they discussed the WHO's Expert Committee on Drug Dependence recommendations about rescheduling cannabis as well as descheduling CBD.

But first, loyal listeners will recall that we recently reported Hempfest was under attack. The state of Washington adopted rules, administrative regulations that essentially prevented companies involved in the marijuana business in Washington, these 502 licensees, from being sponsors or vendors at Hempfest.

Well, good news, the state of Washington has partly relented. I got a chance to talk with Vivian McPeak, the executive director of Hempfest, about all this. So, here's Vivian.

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Well, what happened was, this year the Liquor and Cannabis Board came at us with a different interpretation of legislation that's been on the books for several years, and previously prevented licensed cannabis businesses, 502 businesses, from having commercial speech at the event or at any event, really, or on public property and a thousand feet from this and that and that, which pretty much creates a grid through the city.

They could have their logo and their name and they could have informational displays, political displays. And then this year, the LCB came and said actually they can't have any displays, they can't have even noncommercial speech, they can't have political speech, or information, or advocacy.

And we came back, said well that's not Constitutional, and so we filed an injunction and a lawsuit. A reinterpretation, they -- a clarification's one way to look at it, and how about folding, going back on the previous situation, because that's what they did. And so, yesterday, the LCB issued a new bulletin saying actually, cannabis businesses can have noncommercial advertising and can do informational displays and things like that, or noncommercial speech, excuse me, not advertising for their business.

And that satisfies the injunction that we had. But the lawsuit's going to stand until the legislature changes the law, because we feel that it's still unconstitutional, even on commercial restrictions.

DOUG MCVAY: Okeh. So, the lawsuit is still continuing --

VIVIAN MCPEAK: So in other words -- in other words, they backtracked on what they've been telling us.

DOUG MCVAY: Okeh. Not a complete capitulation but they're -- the bottom line here. You know, Hempfest will be going on one way or another, but will we -- will you still be, will people be able to sponsor stages, will they be able to have banners up on the main stage -- ?


DOUG MCVAY: Well, there you go.

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Yeah. What happened, Doug, is about a month ago, LCB issued a bulletin to all the licensees basically telling them they couldn't be at Hempfest. And you can imagine how that worked with our current sponsors and advertisers that were L -- that were licensed events [sic].

And, they -- a lot of them freaked out or wanted to pull out of the event, which was, you know, kind of devastating to us. And now we have a month and a half to put the word out that no, you actually can be at the event without risking their license.

DOUG MCVAY: Wow. Quite a compressed time frame. That's a heavy lift.

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Oh yeah. It is. It's been a year like that, Doug. There seems to be -- no, I'm not even going to say that, there is obviously a concerted, organized effort on the part of certain corporate and governmental entities to not have Hempfest happen any more, at least that's my -- that's my, what my interpretation of it is.

You know, we just came from a city meeting, Special Event Permit Committee meeting, minutes ago, actually, where we had several big left curves thrown at us. It's been one after another, frankly, and we're also in court with the city on things they've been trying to do to restrict various aspects of Hempfest, which we think are also free speech violations.

So, you know, as Bob Marley said, fighting for survival, fighting on -- fighting on arrival, fighting for survival.

DOUG MCVAY: So, the lawsuit will continue, you are going to be -- I've been looking up, there's, I mean, the tobacco industry had a -- had a landmark case the Supreme Court decided, where they decided that advertising restrictions were onerous, and that's -- that's, I think it was Lorillard. I'm going to have to look it up again.

But there is a tobacco industry case that I'm thinking that those LCB lawyers are aware of too, and they're probably quaking in their boots. The last thing they want is for cannabis to start being treated like other legal social use drugs.

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Yeah, you know, Bailey Hirschburg is a NORML lobbyist up here in Olympia state -- excuse me, in Olympia in Washington state, the capitol, and he recently transcribed minutes from a public meeting, including the LCB direct and some other folks, and they had a huge discussion over, you know, what's going on here? Can we capitulate somehow?

And now we're on the front page of the news, we didn't think this was going to be a front page story. We've got these people making decisions on our behalf, and it was quite telling to us that they obviously seem to have the opinion that they're on some shaky ground.

And of course, that was our opinion all along. But in the meantime, Doug, you know, we still have a hundred thousand person event weeks away, and we have fought probably five or six battles in the last ten months that have, it's just, you know, you have limited resources. We have only two paid employees, other than that it's a complete volunteer event, volunteer staffed event.

And this legal stuff, not only does it churn up tens of thousands of dollars of revenue, or, you know, of money, it also takes a tremendous amount of time and focus just out of the, you know, daily planning and production level stuff that you've got to do.

So it's been beyond taxing, it's definitely been the most taxing year that we've ever had.

DOUG MCVAY: Well, of course people can find out about Hempfest and where, when, and all that, at You are on the 16th, 17th, and 18th of August, if I'm remembering right?

VIVIAN MCPEAK: That is correct, and you know, Hempfest is going to happen this year, no matter what. If we're down there with a bullhorn, so, you know, we're going to put a chimney to shame.

DOUG MCVAY: And -- oh, the one other thing, which I just -- which I just found. I was right, my memory was not, did not fail me. Lorillard Tobacco Company versus Reilly, it was a Massachusetts, does Federal Cigarette Labeling and Advertising Act preempt portions of the attorney general of Massachusetts cigarette advertising ban, and they went beyond that, talking about the Constitution, and it was about a ban on tobacco ads and sales of tobacco within a thousand feet of schools and playgrounds.

I don't like to make comparisons to either the tobacco or the alcohol industry because they're obviously different substances, but that's kind of the point. Marijuana's less dangerous than either of those, so you've got to think that we should not be facing tougher restrictions than those two other industries. That's --

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Yeah. And the argument, Doug, is that there will be children in the park, and they'll be seeing these advertisements for cannabis, right? And I was just at the Fremont Fair, which is on -- a street fair in the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, and there was a -- there was a Corona stage with a giant, you know, ten foot bottle of beer banner on the side of the stage.

There were beer gardens throughout the event where people were drinking alcohol in full view of kids. I was just at the [unintelligible] car show, where there were restaurants that had people sitting on the sidewalk at tables drinking alcohol in full view of children and stuff.

So, you know, alcohol kills 88,000 people a year directly, who knows what the indirect impacts are, and so once again, I don't see this as a fight for legalization, I see this as a fight for equality with alcohol and tobacco users, and businesses.

And like you noted, alcohol and tobacco kills thousands, tens of thousands of people, hundreds of thousands of people globally every year.

DOUG MCVAY: Viv, any closing thoughts for the listeners? And give the website once again just in case people didn't hear it the first time.

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Yeah, this is our 28th year, and its at They can also find us on Facebook and Twitter and all the usual social media places.

And, you know, essentially I want to say that free speech is not free. You've got to work very hard for it, and you have to be willing to sacrifice and take risks and throw it down. And so, you know, we just want to thank the community for 27 Hempfests free of violence and accidents any serious arrests or anything like that. There's usually no arrests at Hempfest.

And so my final words are just thank you to the cannabis community for being so awesome. That makes us proud to represent you, and it makes it possible to represent you.

DOUG MCVAY: Vivian, thank you. God bless you, good luck with everything.

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Back at you, Doug. Take care, my brother.


VIVIAN MCPEAK: Love you, man.

DOUG MCVAY: I love you.


DOUG MCVAY: That was part of my interview with Vivian McPeak. He's executive director of the Seattle Hempfest. Again the state of Washington has relented in its ban on advertising and promotion by 502 licensees. They will be able to participate in Hempfest this year. The suit does go on, and we wish Seattle Hempfest all the best. They are fighting for everyone's free speech rights.

You're listening to Century of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay.

Now, let's get to that interview with Mike Krawitz. He's again with Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.

Michael, the Commission on Narcotic Drugs had a meeting on June 24th at which they reviewed recommendations from the World Health Organization's Expert Committee on Drug Dependence. Those recommendations on cannabis, cannabis resin, on various cannabinoids.

That ECDD, the WHO's body, is recommending some rather serious rescheduling moves. It -- could you tell us first of all what happened?

MICHAEL KRAWITZ: Well, I guess the first thing I should do is just a thirty second deep background, just so you know where this is all kind of coming from, because it seems a little confusing and if you listen to the Russian ambassador, you could be very misled as to where this is coming from.

Believe it or not, back in 2009, Japan asked for this. It wasn't just Japan, Japan and Azerbaijan put in a resolution before the Commission on Narcotic Drugs, the United Nations body, 53 member states that are delegated the authority to work on the drug policy year to year, and they do.

And these 53 countries voted unanimously, consensus, that indeed, as Japan had pointed out, they didn't really know much about cannabis and they -- specifically Japan wanted to see if you could add cannabis seeds to control, because they were very concerned that their young people were buying seeds on the internet, probably from Marc Emery. Remember? [sic: Marc Emery had gotten out of the seed business by 2009.]

But they were buying seeds on the internet and growing them in their closet and they wanted to see if they could put that under international control, get some help from the international cooperation agreements to, you know, stamp this behavior out.

Well, I don't think to this day that they really realized what a box that they were opening by doing so, because seeds are exempt under the treaty. That was actually a very big lift that they were trying to do by adding seeds, and in fact, after all this time, and the World Health Organization weighing in and doing this huge evidentiary review, there isn't much said about seeds in the end. It's really funny.

But, in the end, the World Health Organization found out a couple of things. They found out that cannabis had never been reviewed before. They had never done a science -- they thought there was a scientific evaluation that underlied [sic] the placement of cannabis in the treaty back in 1961, and they were wrong.

So this is the very first evidentiary collection that's ever been done, and you need to know that the World Health Organization is actually written right into the treaty, the United Nations treaty on drugs calls for the World Health Organization, the world authority on medical issues, to weigh in on these drug scheduling decisions. That's who's supposed to make these evidentiary reviews and these recommendations.

And after doing so, they came up with a host of recommendations that essentially recognizes cannabis as a valuable medicine, even if it's the plant material, recognizes it as a medicine, and also recognizes that it's been inappropriately placed, that it should be much less controlled, much less restricted.

And less restricted at the international level would have implications in the United States, because our Controlled Substances Act of 1971 is also dependent on that treaty. It was written with the Constitutional authority of the federal law, you know, actually working right from the treaty, drawn from the treaty.

So, and a lot of other countries, a whole lot of other -- there's 186 countries that have signed the treaty. A lot of them have very closely tied national law to the treaties, so if you change the treaty, it will cause a cascade effect of at least review of their national law.

DOUG MCVAY: So now, the ECDD has done this review. They're recommending that cannabis the plant, in essence, should be taken out of its Schedule Four, which lists drugs -- controlled substances, rather, that are to be banned, period, and yet they're also saying it should remain within that 1961 convention's Schedule One, which is tight restrictions, still regarded as a dangerous drug, but that would no longer be a requirement that it be -- that it be banned. So --

MICHAEL KRAWITZ: In part. There's actually several parts to this, and I'll give you quickly the other parts. One is that there was considerable confusion around CBD. If you ask DEA about CBD, they say, oh that's drawn from marijuana, of course it's part of marijuana. It's marijuana.

If you ask someone that's doing hemp work, or doing hemp food products, or working in the hemp industry what CBD is, they'll say no, CBD is drawn from hemp, it's a nutritional supplement. It can be a medicine, you have to get it approved by FDA. And it has been approved by FDA as a medicine.

So this is very confusing. What the World Health Organization has recommended is a sentence in a note in the margins of the treaty that just makes it clear that CBD is not a subject to control. Just because you can get it from marijuana doesn't make it marijuana, not it's not marijuana, not it's not a subject to control.

That really could help a lot to clear things up, if that note gets inserted, if we win that vote and get that note inserted. It will make it clear that even with a dash of THC, CBD, even from plant material, doesn't matter if it's naturally occurring or CBD synthetic, it's not to be controlled as a drug.

The other thing that it said was --

DOUG MCVAY: To be clear, that means -- that essentially means descheduling. I mean, literally removing CBD itself from this, in a sentence --

MICHAEL KRAWITZ: Yeah, yeah, that would be -- they're clarifying that it isn't in the schedule, but it's from their perspective. You could look at it as descheduling, sure.

DOUG MCVAY: Yeah, which would -- yeah. Rescheduling is just -- it means moving the thing to a different schedule. This --

MICHAEL KRAWITZ: They're not -- they're putting a margin note that makes it clear that CBD is not a subject of control. So in essence, they're making both the argument that it's not a subject of control, and that it never has been.

DOUG MCVAY: Interesting. I'm sorry for interrupting, that was just, it's just that's --

MICHAEL KRAWITZ: Oh no, so, and the other things that it's doing, it's taking THC out of the 1971 treaty, which is all about hallucinogenic and psychotropics, and putting it back kind of where it belongs with cannabis in the '61 treaty. If you ask me why that all needs to happen, it's all timing.

Back in 1961, they didn't know what THC was yet, and the '71 treaty, when they passed it, they had found out what THC was and it was convenient to put it in the '71 treaty, and I think back then they were talking about it a lot more in terms of a hallucinogen, and I think these days scientists and those in the know, even police, they don't really talk about cannabis in terms of hallucinogen anymore.

And it really would make more sense for THC, synthetic or natural, to be in the same place as the plant material that produces THC, it's very confusing, so they're talking about rectifying that, and also, they're talking about medicines where it's hard to pull the THC out. In other words, some sort of composite medicine. Not necessarily FDA approved, but an FDA approved medicine would certainly satisfy this criterion.

They're recommending an even lower schedule, Schedule Three in the treaty. So, they're talking about taking it out of -- cannabis, whole cannabis out of Schedule Four, but leaving it in Schedule One, which is not the same as USA Schedule One, it's a lot less restrictive, so you know.

And then they're talking about, you know, preparations that can't be so easily abused being in the lowest schedule available, allowing for over the counter sales without a prescription, is what that calls for in the treaty, Schedule Three.

So that's -- it's a really amazing recommendation, and again, you know, it's the World Health Organization's job to make these recommendations. They're the ones that make these kind of evidentiary reviews, and if the United Nations wants to call its cannabis policy evidence based, they really now have no choice but to accept these recommendations.

They are fair, they were done with an exhaustive amount of study, dozens of higher institutions of learning involved, and I think they've done a fair job.

The critics would say, oh, well you shouldn't have cannabis in Schedule One, we -- that should have been reschedule out of Schedule One, but, two things about that. One, those critics didn't bring that up during the process. I wish they had, but they didn't, and we never really got to discuss this during the process, and it's a shame, because we all resolved during the process that that was okeh, for it to leave it in Schedule One, because of the fact that it would actually require a rewrite of the treaties, not just a rescheduling recommendation at that point.

The treaty is written around cannabis .They said things that look like cannabis are put into Schedule One. So, it would be more than just rescheduling to pull cannabis out of Schedule One.

And also, coca is in Schedule One as well. Coca and cannabis together in that schedule, neither one of them belong there. I think that an action, you know, by the United Nations later on to remove these plant materials from Schedule One and figure out what's more appropriate, rewrite the sections of the treaty that need to be rewritten.

I think that's a lift for the United Nations to do. That's my, really my thinking personally, but also my thinking with my organizational hat on, working as a coalition, we really don't feel slighted by that.

The Transnational Institute has been kind of championing the cause of rejecting the World Health Organization's findings because of just that, because it's inconsistent. Yeah, it's inconsistent, even the World Health Organization pointed out that cannabis really doesn't belong in Schedule One, it's not like a lot of the other things that are in Schedule One.

But, yeah. Here's where we are. And I think that in the end, I think this is actually something we can get passed through the Commission, again because it's reasonable, it's middle of the road, and it's completely based on evidence. It doesn't go off on a, you know, it doesn't do what we want them to do, it doesn't do what we don't want them to do. I think it's a compromise.

DOUG MCVAY: Similarity, indeed, is one of the, is the reason that the recommendation to remove it from the '61's Schedule Four, because it was so dissimilar from the other substances that were in that list of complete bans.

MICHAEL KRAWITZ: Absolutely. Absolutely. In Schedule Four, it was an absurdity. There was absolute consensus that cannabis didn't belong in Schedule Four.

DOUG MCVAY: Now, clarify. You mentioned coca and cannabis as not belonging in Schedule One. Would you say -- would, I mean, what do you think? Would the plant matter, the cannabis plant, the coca plant, should be either removed from the schedules or at least moved further down, and then the extracts, so cocaine and, well, THC I guess is in Schedule One now, right? Or is that their suggestion?

MICHAEL KRAWITZ: You know, this is one of those areas where my associate, [unintelligible], who I work with over there at the UN, and we've been kind of co-authors on all of these documents, I wish he could answer that because I think he'd be more ready to answer.

But my take is that, where we're at right now is that these plant materials don't belong there, but then again we don't have real consensus on exactly what we should do.

I think the idea to remove all the plant materials from control completely, and then only control the drugs. In other words, you have THC controlled, why do you need the plant material controlled? If you are growing the plant material as a -- in the treaty, it strictly allows for horticultural use, and strictly allows for industrial use.

So if you're growing it to make, you know, bedding for your horses, or you grow it because you think it looks pretty in your window box, that's of no concern to the drug authorities. Really, at the local level all the way up to the UN. Only it becomes a concern is if you try to put these, the drug substance from the plant material.

So I think it makes sense to actually remove these plant substances themselves from control, and only control the substances that are derived from them. I think, my opinion would be to do that.

DOUG MCVAY: We're going back to the Yippies from the 1980s. You know, natural plant drugs, put stricter controls on the things that are further out, the processed, use the, you know, have the, things like coca products available to sort of sop up the market.

I mean, there's, if there's a legitimate market for coca products that don't, you know, that doesn't involve the processing into cocaine, then just give the farmers an income and the raw material's no longer available to the cartels. I mean, it's actually a pretty straightforward kind of way to deal with the whole thing.

MICHAEL KRAWITZ: You know, I've witnessed some great stuff over the years, and one of the things I witnessed was President Evo Morales speaking for Bolivia over at the UN about coca. And what he said applied to cannabis completely, if you just pull the word coca out and put cannabis in.

He was talking about how it had been used as a medicine, it was used by, you know, a group of people in their cultural habits and rituals going way, way back, and it was a food, it was a medicine, it was part of their rituals and practices, and there are all these great products derived from it, and that it's not a drug.

He emphasized that Bolivia was willing and ready to step up and fight, you know, against very dangerous drugs, but, including cocaine, but, you know, coca was not cocaine, and they needed to draw a line that allowed their people to commerce in this and to utilize this substance that had been part of their way of life for, you know, forever.

And I just thought it was wonderful. In fact, you know, we talked to -- we got to talk to the president after that, in an NGO room, and, you know, several people from the cannabis movement were asking him for help, and of course, that was the wrong thing to ask him. You know, he wasn't there to work on cannabis issues for us.

But, nonetheless, I think, you know, if we had said, hey, thank you for that, and we're going to use that as a model for what we're going to try to do with cannabis, and it's a real inspiration to us. I think he would have liked that better.

DOUG MCVAY: You know, I listened to that -- I listened to that discussion and when they were starting to talk about THC, there were, you know, the -- there was concern, you know, among a lot of the -- among the people out there at this, the delegates about THC and the stories they had heard.

And it strikes me that, well, the concerns about really high levels of THC, yeah, natural plant product. If the plant product is available, then you've got, you know -- yeah, I suppose you'd have to have some kind of a price mechanism to keep people from processing into oils and doing the high powered concentrates. But, that's a thought that's going to be developed later.

MICHAEL KRAWITZ: And, that also I think is an argument for doing this slowly, and leaving as a bridge cannabis where it is in Schedule One, taking it out of Schedule Four so it's no longer as you say prohibited, but it would be -- it would be available as a medicine and normalized as a medicine but still controlled.

And if someone was to make a lot of high potency oil, that's, you know, not going to be an insignificant thing. It's going to be something that, just like making coca paste out of coca, or anything else, it's something I think governments will be able to easily still enforce their drug laws, even with these changes.

It's just going to take a little bit of the sting out of it for the, I think mostly for the user, and for the patients, because right now it's such a big hammer that they're going after these plant materials with, that it prevents all access. I mean, I don't need to tell you how hard it is in some places to have -- to get access.

DOUG MCVAY: And I'm not saying that I think that they should treat oil and high THC product in that kind of way. I think though that I can see them moving in that kind of direction.

Michael, any closing thoughts, and give us the social media and other web address where we can keep up with the work that you're doing.

MICHAEL KRAWITZ: Sure. So, the closing thought is that this timeline runs til March 2020, and that's when we'll have this majority vote, and we need to put pressure on these 53 countries that are members of the Commission on Narcotic Drugs to do the right thing and accept these recommendations.

Every -- all hands on deck, everybody has a role, you can help in a multitude of ways. Just pay attention to it, talk to your governmental leaders would be a good start. But anything you want to do to help. Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access, you can find us on Facebook,, as in Veterans Medical Cannabis Access.

DOUG MCVAY: That was my interview with Michael Krawitz from Veterans for Medical Cannabis Access.

And that's it for this week. Thank you for joining us. I'm Doug McVay and you have been listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at

The executive producer of the Drug Truth Network is Dean Becker. Drug Truth Network programs, including this show, Century of Lies, as well as the flagship show of the Drug Truth Network, Cultural Baggage, and of course our daily 420 Drug War News segments, are all available by podcast. The URLs to subscribe are on the network home page at

The Drug Truth Network has a Facebook page, please give it a like. Drug Policy Facts, which is also Drug War Facts, is on Facebook too, give its page a like and share it with friends. Remember: Knowledge is power.

You can follow me on Twitter, I'm @DougMcVay and of course also @DrugPolicyFacts.

We'll be back in a week with thirty more minutes of news and information about drug policy reform and the failed war on drugs. 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.

06/12/19 Vivian McPeak

Century of Lies
Vivian McPeak
Seattle Hempfest

This week we talk with Seattle Hempfest Executive Director Vivian McPeak about a lawsuit they've filed against the state over onerous restrictions on cannabis businesses, and we talk with Julie Bobitt,PhD, from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champagne about her research on cannabis use by older adults.

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JUNE 12, 2019

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

Hello, and welcome to Century of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of

Well, I came across a couple of really interesting articles this week, looking at cannabis use by older adults, and by older adults, wow, they even mean people like me. But anyway, I digress, came across a couple of interesting articles about cannabis use by older adults, so I got in touch with one of the authors.

Doctor Julie Bobitt is Director of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We're going to talk to Doctor Bobitt in just a moment. But first ....

VIVIAN MCPEAK: My name is Vivian McPeak, I'm the executive director of the world's largest annual cannabis policy reform event, the Seattle Hempfest.

DOUG MCVAY: August every year, the third weekend in August is Hempfest. This year it's 16, 17, and 18?

VIVIAN MCPEAK: That's correct.

DOUG MCVAY: Vivian, you just had -- Seattle Hempfest just filed a lawsuit. What is going on up there?

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Well, Doug, the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board, the regulatory agency that oversees 502 licensees, or cannabis businesses in Washington state, recently made a new interpretation of a Washington Administrative [Code] ordinance, and interpreted this advertising restriction to basically say that a cannabis business can't have any sign or logo or name or presence or message at a public event like Seattle Hempfest.

And we believe that that is unconstitutional, that it's broad and vague and overreaching, and we have filed a lawsuit against the LCB in state court today. We will soon be moving for an injunction, arguing it in Thurston County.

DOUG MCVAY: Okeh, now, this is -- this would be, so, vendors, people with cannabis, various companies, would not be able to - could they, I mean, could they have the name of the business, even? How restrictive?

VIVIAN MCPEAK: No. Not under this new interpretation of the law. Recently there was a new WAC, Washington Administrative Code, it was an amended code by the state legislature, and, you know, Hempfest met with the LCB last year and said, look, you know, this is really vague. It says that these businesses can't do advertising, but they can do other forms of speech. What defines advertising?

And of course, you know, they argued amongst themselves for two hours in the room with us and said they'd get back to us, and it was months later that they finally got back to us with this kind of ambiguous language.

But, still on their website until last month, it said that cannabis businesses can have informational displays at events like Hempfest. It named us. And then last month, they took that language off of their website and instead replaced it with this incredibly restrictive stuff saying that they can't even have a presence.

In other words, they can't have their name, their logo, their address, any sign of any kind. And, as you know, public parks and public spaces are the modern equivalent of a town square, and that's why they deserve the highest degree of protection, and as a free speech event, nothing's more important to us than political speech.

And what this interpretation does is it prevents these 502 licensees from for example having a sign that says "We Support Seattle Hempfest," or "This is the difference between CBD and THC," or "We Support The Ending Of Cannabis As Schedule One And The Legalization Of Cannabis Federally."

They're restricted from saying anything like that. And we think that that's just clearly a violation of free speech under the Constitution of the United States.

DOUG MCVAY: Okeh, now, these -- the sign restriction is because Hempfest is in a park, is that the case, or what? I mean, they can have -- ?

VIVIAN MCPEAK: These restrictions prevent any sign or other advertisement for a cannabis business within one thousand feet of school playground, library, or public park. And if you know anything about a municipality, that's pretty much everywhere.

DOUG MCVAY: Well, especially depending on how they define a public park, I mean, in some cases, I've seen, you know, arguments about like a bike path, and you have things like that cutting through the middle of town.

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Yeah. Exactly. And, you know, let's just mention too that this is a blow right to the heart of Hempfest's revenue generation, you know, it's one of our primary sources of revenue. I mean, who's going to advertise at Hempfest? Well, cannabis businesses, you know. Who's going to sponsor Hempfest? A cannabis business. Who's going to have a vending booth? Some kind of cannabis business.

So, there's very broad implications here, and we just feel this is a pretty clear cut case. And we've got to fight the power, man.

DOUG MCVAY: Well, obviously so, obviously so, I mean, this is -- I'm just looking at this, what is it, RCW 69.50.369, you reference it in the story on the website there, about advertisements, rules, penalties, and, let's see, any sign, other than identifying the retail outlet ...

VIVIAN MCPEAK: You know, Doug, we spent 27 years here fighting prohibition, and these ad restrictions, to us, feel like Prohibition 2.0, and it's just one of a variety of aspects of Washington state law that we feel is contrary to common sense and to sane, reasonable cannabis laws.

You know, I mean, if you're a cannabis business you can't even display a pot leaf, you can't have a pot leaf on your window, or on your sign, or anything like that, and, like, I don't know what kind of threat to society, to the children, the image of a pot leaf poses.

But this is just one in a long series of, kind of, what we think of as reefer madness -- an extension of reefer madness into this supposed legal paradigm.

DOUG MCVAY: Yeah, no depiction of marijuana plants, marijuana products, et cetera. I -- totally aside, but earlier today I was -- my twitter feed had a mention, Riverside County Sheriff's Office down in California was doing a marijuana eradication raid. Legalization 2.0 -- yeah, sorry Prohibition 2.0.

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Nice. Yeah, yeah. And I just want to point out that this is -- this is not about advertising, Doug, it's about restrictions on any signs and the fact that the legislation and the Liquor and Cannabis Board entirely bars certain speakers from identifying who they are, saying anything at all and distributing any literature at all.

The law and the board's interpretation is just really entirely over-broad, and restricts all meaningful speech, you know, not just advertising, but even political speech, informational dissemination, what have you.

DOUG MCVAY: You could see the argument made for things like, I mean I disagree with the idea of, you know, whether there are samples or not. Okeh, you can make -- okeh, that's debatable whether that's appropriate or not, I mean, I think you should, but --

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Sure, at least there's an argument, you know, whether we agree with it or not, there's an argument that could be made. But this is really silly, and since the days of James Madison, and the broadsides in public square, public space has been a central bastion of freedom of speech, especially political speech, and we think that the good people at the Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board got it wrong on this one, and we're going to mount a vigorous defense against it.

DOUG MCVAY: Okeh, and again, that's in state court there, so where -- when and where is this, are you going to be -- are you in court tomorrow, did you say?

VIVIAN MCPEAK: No, no, I'm, you know, I'm not the attorney, I'm the activist guy. But I know that we'll be moving for an injunction against the LCB, because what they did is, they sent a letter to all the cannabis businesses that, like, the cultivators, the processors, the packagers, the retailers, and, you know, warning them against participating in Seattle Hempfest.

You can imagine what happened then. Our phones started ringing off the hook, and we're just a couple of months before the event right now. I mean, we would much rather be putting all of our energy into pulling this event together and producing another safe educational -- our twenty-eighth annual safe and educational Hempfest.

Instead, we're having to deal with this stuff. And it's not the only thing we're dealing with. We're also appealing an adverse decision of the city hearing examiner here in Seattle over one thousand dollar operating a marijuana business without a licence ticket that we got, over some of the same issues that are in the lawsuit, for a private party at a private house that we had as part of our membership program.

The city came in undercover and then issued us this citation, saying that because we were letting people smoke their own cannabis in the back yard of this house, we were operating a marijuana business without a license.

So we just feel like we're under attack on multiple fronts right now.

DOUG MCVAY: Vivian, I wish you the best of luck, I mean, this is just an outrage, what's being -- what's happening is just an outrage, it's ridiculous, there's -- it's obviously a concerted attack on Hempfest.

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Yeah, and at the same time, the city also, the FAS, Financial Administrative Services, is telling us that the signs that we had at the entrances at Hempfest, asking for a suggested ten dollar donation, constitute an admission fee.

And we said, well that's intriguing, because very few people give us anything. Everybody knows it's a free event.

So, we're just feeling like, you know, they're out to get us, and we're out to beat them. You know, it's always a struggle, but this is a little bit unusual.

DOUG MCVAY: Oh indeed. So, tell folks how they can -- tell folks your social media, but most importantly, where can people find out -- keep up with what's going on, where can people donate to Hempfest?

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Absolutely. I appreciate that. We've got a great show lining up, you know, with some great speakers and some great acts. It's going to be the usual, you know, more freedom than you find in Amsterdam down at Myrtle Edwards and Centennial Park.

People can go to at any time, they can check out our Facebook or our Twitter accounts as well, look for @SeattleHempfest. At there is a donation page, and people can make a contribution electronically right there, and we are probably actually going to be doing a GoFundMe, try and help raise some of the money for our attorneys and our legal fund.

People can always just come to Seattle Hempfest and drop something in the donation bins as they come in and out, because, and I'll say it, we request a ten dollar suggested donation for three days of three stages of music, premier arts, crafts, and informational vendors, and all the great, amazing speakers and vendors that we have, about three hundred vendors.

DOUG MCVAY: It's always a great show, and full disclosure: I'm volunteering on the speakers committee this year, so ...

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Nice. Nice. That's how you do it.

DOUG MCVAY: Yeah. You've got -- what is it, like a thousand people who volunteer every year? It's amazing.

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Yep. Yep, we'll fill about a thousand staff shirts, and we'll have a hundred thousand people attending the event. And you know, cannabis is still federally illegal. I mean, you walk into Idaho, right across the Washington border here, and find out that a doob tube is against the law there. They don't even recognize CBD as legal in Idaho.

And, you know, our esteemed attorney general, national Attorney General William Barr, he could, you know, sign a piece of paper and in two months every pot shop in America would be shut down. So we haven't won. We have a long ways to go, a lot of heavy lifting to do.

So it's more important than ever to have a Seattle Hempfest, and to thank people like, you know, Jimmy Romans, who's got a lifetime sentence for cannabis and has -- still has thirty years to serve, of his commuted sentence. So it's important as ever.

DOUG MCVAY: Right on. Truer words. All right, Vivian McPeak, director of Seattle Hempfest. Vivian, you're doing god's work, thank you, brother, for all you do, man. Thank you.

VIVIAN MCPEAK: Love you so much, Doug, I look forward to seeing you, bro.

DOUG MCVAY: Love you, Viv.



That was my interview with Vivian McPeak, executive director of Seattle Hempfest. Seattle Hempfest is of course August 16, 17, and 18 this year. I look forward to seeing everyone there. It will be an incredible event, as ever. Hopefully we can overcome some of these restrictions that the state decided to impose.

You're listening to Century of Lies. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of

NGAIO BEALUM: Make more noise here! Who here likes marijuana?! Let’s hear it for weed! How about pot? Who likes pot?! Who likes grass?! What about trees? How about fire? How about cannabis?!

I’m just going to do that for a few minutes, just going to go through synonyms for weed. You can make up words for weed as long as you use the verb twist or roll, everybody knows what you’re talking about. Hey, man, twist up a stiff-diffler. All right, dawg, one fat stiffie coming up. Where do you keep your stiff dankaciousness at?

I love marijuana. I go hard for weed, I’m from California, we're going to legalize in 2016, right after Oregon does it this year. If you live somewhere, go hard for weed. Go hard, I go door to door in my neighborhood like a Weed-hovas Witness. I have some good news about weed. Can I share it with you?

Good morning. I would like to talk to you about my personal relationship with marijuana. Do you have a few moments? Hi, have you accepted weed in your life? I have some papers here somewhere.

DOUG MCVAY: Julie Bobitt, PhD, is the Director of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences at the College of Applied Health Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She's co-author on a couple of articles that have come out recently that are of great interest.

One of them, "Patterns of Marijuana Use and Health Impact: A Survey Among Older Coloradans" was published recently in the journal Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine. The other, published in the journal Drugs and Aging, is entitled "Qualitative Analysis of Cannabis Use Among Older Adults in Colorado."

I talked to Doctor Bobitt on the phone. Here's that interview.

JULIE BOBITT, PHD: My name is Julie Bobitt, I'm the Director of the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences Program in the Department of Kinesiology and Community Health at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. And my research, really, I evaluate programs and policies that impact the health of older adults.

DOUG MCVAY: What led you to do research on cannabis use by older adults?

JULIE BOBITT, PHD: Well, in 2015-2016, I was a Health and Aging Policy Fellow and I was placed at the Office of the Surgeon General at the time when they were rolling out the Turn The Tide Campaign. That was a campaign to address the opioid epidemic in the United States.

And during that time, there were two committee hearings on the Hill that addressed opioids, and cannabis was brought up in the as a potential alternative. So that was just kind of the first spark. And then during that same time period, states that had legalized cannabis were seeing an increase in use by the older adult population.

So, my colleagues and I started discussing this, and we were wondering was this because, you know, were Baby Boomers who were already using just aging into this group? Was this the result of legalization of marijuana, more policies that were taking place across the states?

Or could this be tied to older adults experiencing more chronic conditions as they age? And could they be looking for alternative means of treating those conditions?

So we thought it was important to explore older adults' attitudes about, and experiences with, cannabis. And for those who were using, how they were accessing cannabis and the outcomes they were experiencing.

DOUG MCVAY: So, Baby Boomers. It's -- older adults. I'm a Baby Boomer. And I guess I am an older -- well, I'm older. We'll just leave it at that. So, tell me what have you found? Tell me your findings.

JULIE BOBITT, PHD: Sure. So, we have two articles that are out. One of them, "THe Patterns of Marijuana Use and Health Impact," that was our survey that we looked at of older Coloradans. And of the older adults in our study who were using marijuana, the majority were reporting using for medical purposes, such as for treating pain related conditions as well as for anxiety and depression.

And they were also using a variety of methods other than smoking, such as edibles and creams and tinctures. We also found that those who had used marijuana in the past year had reported that their overall health and quality of life improved, and they were reporting improvement in things like their day to day functioning and with controlling their pain.

And finally, one other thing in this article that we found, that older adults were reporting using for a variety of medical reasons, but they weren't always accessing cannabis from medical dispensaries. They were using both medical and recreational dispensaries.

DOUG MCVAY: Right on. And now, you've done a couple of articles, doing the -- you've got the patterns of medical and social cannabis use, and you've also got the new one out in the journal Drugs and Aging, it's, what is it, "Qualitative Analysis of Cannabis Use Among Older Adults in Colorado." Tell me about those findings.

JULIE BOBITT, PHD: So, while the first article was about survey data that we collected, the second article was based on data we collected through focus groups across Colorado.

So, my colleagues were out across the state of Colorado talking to groups of older adults, and we found that participants were interested in education about how cannabis can be used for medical purposes. And they brought physicians and community resources such as universities, libraries, and senior centers that would be good places to offer such education.

We also investigated the issue of how they were accessing cannabis, through recreational versus medical dispensaries.

We found that older adults sometimes experience difficulties accessing medical cannabis, and for our participants who were using cannabis, because we talked to people who were both users and non-users, the ones who were using cannabis were doing so largely to treat pain related conditions, which was also reported in our previous paper.

But with our focus groups we're able dig a little deeper on this, and we found that many of the individuals using cannabis were using cannabis in place of or to reduce their reliance on stronger pain relievers, such as opioids. And even our non-users were favorable to using cannabis if they were to acquire a condition in the future, especially if it meant that they might not have to use some of the stronger medications that are out there.

DOUG MCVAY: Interesting, and of course that's -- that goes right along with some of the, with a lot of other research that's been coming out about substitution of cannabis for the opioids. I want to go back though for a moment. You mentioned that some older adults were having difficulty accessing medical cannabis. Now, that's -- I mean, Colorado has medical cannabis, it has a legal adult use market. Why were they having problems with access?

JULIE BOBITT, PHD: Yeah, well, that was interesting for us. So, for the older adults that we spoke with, some were having trouble finding a physician that could certify them for the red card that's required for medical dispensary access.

Also, many reported that they were reluctant to bring it up their physician, that they had brought it up but their physician didn't feel knowledgeable about cannabis use and, you know, talking to them about it, and so, and some didn't really even support its use due to a lack of research.

So of course, you know, as you mentioned, in Colorado they have the option to go through the recreational dispensary. So when we first saw the data from our surveys, we just thought, well, you know, maybe older adults just prefer to go that route, maybe because it's easier, it's available to them.

But, through our conversations in the focus groups, we really were able to determine that many of the older adults we spoke with wanted to access it through a medical dispensary, and they wanted that direction from their healthcare provider, but just weren't always able to do so, for some of the reasons I stated.

DOUG MCVAY: - Now, in your article you also mentioned that older adults are also experiencing stigma related to cannabis use. Could you talk about that a bit, the kind forms it takes, and how it's impacting their lives and their healthcare?

JULIE BOBITT, PHD: Yes. Many of the discussions that took place in our focus groups including stories where the participant was afraid to admit their cannabis use to their own family members, their physicians, their friends. Even if you were using strictly for medical purposes, the reasons varied, but some that come to mind include being worried about what their physicians might say, or about others' negative opinions about cannabis use.

So, a lot of them kept it pretty quiet. They were afraid to be labeled a quote "pot head," is what some of them said, or felt that movies such as, you know, back when Reefer Madness came out, had caused an overall fear of cannabis use that's still with us today, even though it's legal in their state.

It was interesting, because many of the participants stressed that as an older adult they weren't interested in using cannabis to quote "party," but really had medical issues that they felt would be addressed by using cannabis. But even though they held these attitudes personally, they were still fearful of what others thought about it.

And I think, you know, as to how this could have an impact on them, this really could have a big impact on their healthcare because not disclosing their cannabis use could have medical implications if they're using other medications. So in general, having open communication with their own healthcare providers is certainly better for their health outcomes.

There wasn't a lot of discussion about how they coped with the stigma, but, the topic circles back to the need to really educate the public and the healthcare community about cannabis use for medical purposes.

DOUG MCVAY: This may be a bit off, and it's just a -- it's a thing I think about sometimes, but I know that some people have trouble identifying as a patient. I mean, no one wants to think that they're a patient, the older adults you were speaking to, I presume, were active consumers of healthcare.

Did any of them have trouble wrapping their heads around the idea of being a patient?

JULIE BOBITT, PHD: That didn't come up in our focus groups. It was really more about just feeling that there was an overall lack of education and information, not just for them as consumers, but also for health providers.

Even if they were able, or even if they felt like they could bring it up, there just wasn't a lot that they were provided back, as far as education.

And it could be around things such as dosage, the types of cannabis methods that they could use such as, you know, the ones that I mentioned above, you know, edibles or creams or tinctures. There isn't a lot of information available to them.

DOUG MCVAY: - Right on, right on. Again, folks, we're speaking with Julie Bobitt, PhD, Director of the Interdisciplinary Health Sciences [Program] at the College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana.

Julie, do you have any closing thoughts for my listeners, and also is there a website or social media where people can keep up with the work that you're doing?

JULIE BOBITT, PHD: Sure. Closing thoughts, I would say, you know, as with any research, our results need to be taken with caution because this is one study on older adults in one state, but it really provides us some insight into how older adults perceive cannabis, and shows the need for more education of users and the healthcare community as well.

Older adults are using cannabis, and whether this is something that people agree with, it shows the need for more open communication about this topic so that they're doing so in a way which can minimize any potential negative effects.

And I think it also provides us a first glimpse as to what is happening in relation to opioids. This is really an area where more research needs to be conducted.

And certainly people can keep up with the work we are doing. At the University of Illinois, I have an Aging and Health Policy Lab website where I include updates about our research, and that website is

And also my colleagues at the University of Iowa have a Cannabis and Older Persons Study website, which is

DOUG MCVAY: Brilliant. I'm from Iowa, by the way. Don't hold it against me. Anyway, Doctor Bobitt, I thank you so much for your time, and for your work. It's fascinating. I'll continue to check it out.

JULIE BOBITT, PHD: Well, thank you for inviting me to talk about our work.

DOUG MCVAY: That was my interview with Doctor Julie Bobitt. She's Director of Interdisciplinary Health Sciences [Program] at the College of Applied Health Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

She's co-author of articles entitled "Patterns of Marijuana Use and Health Impact: A Survey Among Older Coloradans," published recently in the journal Gerontology and Geriatric Medicine, and "Qualitative Analysis of Cannabis Use Among Older Adults in Colorado," published recently in the journal Drugs and Aging.

NGAIO BEALUM: So, marijuana's legal in Nevada now, right? And I heard a story about this guy who won a lot of money, won like a hundred thousand dollars, and this stoner came up to him and said, hey man, I know you won a hundred thousand dollars. I normally wouldn't ask this, but my girlfriend's very sick, I need ten thousand dollars so she can have an operation.

And the gambler says, well how do I know if I give you this ten thousand dollars, you're not just going to buy some marijuana? And the stoner goes, man, I have weed money.

DOUG MCVAY: And that's it for this week. I want to thank you for joining us. You have been listening to Century of Lies. We're a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at I’m your host Doug McVay, editor of

The executive producer of the Drug Truth Network is Dean Becker. Drug Truth Network programs, including this show, Century of Lies, as well as the flagship show of the Drug Truth Network, Cultural Baggage, and of course our daily 420 Drug War News segments, are all available by podcast. The URLs to subscribe are on the network home page at

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We'll be back in a week with thirty more minutes of news and information about drug policy reform and the failed war on drugs. 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.