08/17/14 Doug McVay
Century of Lies
Doug McVay report: This week is part one of our coverage of Seattle Hempfest 2014. It's billed as the world's largest protestival, and it lives up to its reputation. The event is massive Ôö£├ÂÔö£├ºÔö£Ôöñ three city parks, four music stages, and one smaller stage with panel discussions and in-depth presentations by leaders in the industry and the movement.
Century of Lies August 17, 2014
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 guest host, Doug McVay, editor of Drug War Facts dot org. Century of Lies is a production of the Drug Truth Network, which comes to you through the generosity of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and of listeners like you.
Find us on the web at drug truth dot net, where you can find past programs and you can subscribe to our podcasts. You can follow me on twitter, where I'm at drug policy facts, and also at doug mcvay. The Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, be sure to give its page a Like, you can find Drug War Facts on Facebook as well, please give it a like and share it with friends.
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This week is part one of our coverage of Seattle Hempfest 2014.
As I record these words, the 2014 Seattle Hempfest is underway. It's billed as the world's largest protestival, and it lives up to its reputation. The event is massive – three city parks, four music stages, and one smaller stage with panel discussions and in depth presentations by leaders in the industry and the movement. More than one hundred thousand people attend each day. Hempfest is a free event in that there is no charge for admission. The event itself costs an arm and a leg, not surprisingly, and all of it is paid for by donations from attendees and people like you. Having said that, the fest could not go on without the support of hundreds and hundreds of volunteers, some of them from around the country but most of them from western Washington and the Seattle area. It is truly inspiring. I count myself as quite fortunate to have been a speaker at Hempfest for the past 10 years, so I've been able to step behind the scenes to witness how the magic happens. It's a lot of hard work, dedication, and love, and it has to be seen to be fully appreciated. Still, this is radio so you can at least get some of the sounds, and the voices, that make the Fest what it is.
Again this is the first part of our coverage of Hempfest. It's a huge festival, there are speakers and panel discussions featuring the top people in the marijuana movement and the marijuana industry – they are separate, make no mistake about that. Let's kick off the coverage with this, it's a portion of the news conference which kicked off the Fest. The first voice you hear will be Kari Boiter of Americans for Safe Access:
KARI BOITER: Welcome to the 23rd Annual Seattle Hempfest. I want to give you guys a little bit of a brief history about how we got here. Hempfest began in 1991 and it was originally a volunteer park. It was at that time the Washington Hemp Expo. There were only about 500 attendees and 20 crew members who put the festival on. It stayed that way for almost 10 years.
It moved to Gasworks Parks after three years because it grew exponentially to almost 15,000 attendees from 500 in three years. That was the last year that they had vendors who didn’t have to pay any fees. We’ve still been able to keep it free for attendees since then but we’ve obviously had all these vendors here to contribute to the cost to put this on.
It cost almost $800,000 to put Hempfest on every year - all entirely donation-based. 250,000 to 300,000 attendees come over three days. Now we have a core staff of 60 people and 1,000 volunteers working 19,000 volunteer shifts to put this on. Let’s give them a big round of a hand.
Hemp – what is it good for? Food, fuel, fiber, medicine. You can have granola, salad dressing, cooking oils, bird seed. You can make biofuel, mulch, canvas, rope, apparel, paper, packaging, building materials and, of course, the medicine component.
It’s a great health food supplement. It has more omega-3s than fish oil. It’s a wonderful herbal remedy for all sorts of ailments – different applications for different types of medical conditions.
This year the theme of Hempfest is “Time, manner and place.” That basically is about the regulatory phase. Hempfest has always been about responsible adult use but now that we are moving into the regulatory phase we actually get to talk about what that means and define what responsible adult use is.
It’s obviously a pretty exciting and historic time to be able to figure out how businesses are going to go into action and what kind of rights consumers are going to have and what medical marijuana is going to look like. While we’re doing all of this and it is a great reason to celebrate because we’ve made so much progress but we got to remember there is still a lot more work to do.
Even though it is legal here in Washington in other states in this country there are people doing life in prison for marijuana. We are actually home to the largest population of prisoners ever in world history.
Even here in Washington where you can walk into a store and legally buy marijuana you can still lose your job for smoking it. You can lose your kids for using it.
We have a great line up of speakers today to tell us about how far we’ve come and how far we still have to go starting with Adam Eidinger who is from the DC Cannabis Campaign. He’s here to talk about why legalization is the best approach and the unique roll that Washington, D.C. plays in the political landscape.
ADAM EIDINGER: Good morning, everyone. My name is Adam Eidenger. The last name is spelled E-i-d-i-n-g-e-r. I’m the chairman of the DC Cannabis Campaign.
This is my ninth Seattle Hempfest. I have made this journey every summer. I skipped a couple years but basically it is my ninth one. I have to say every time I come to Seattle Hempfest I bring back new ideas to the east coast because this really is a global event. It’s a meeting place for cannabis enthusiasts from not just the state of Washington but all over the world.
A lot of what I’ve learned over the years is you just have to do it. You just have to go and organize at your local level to legalize marijuana to get things done. About one year ago when we were here I was peculating the idea that we were going to put legalization on the ballot in the nation’s capital. Because of this inspirational event, because of legalization passing here and seeing the change come to place we really gained the confidence to go back home, back east and put it on the ballot here.
This late spring and summer we collected 57,000 signatures and we put the question of legalization of minimal amounts of marijuana for personal use on the DC ballot. There are 650,000 people who live in the nation’s capital. They don’t live in any other state. They live in Washington, D.C. They are going to get to vote this November to legalize.
Polling shows that we have 63% supporting this. Because in the interest of time I’m just going to jump to it...why is the support for the legalization of marijuana so high in the shadow of the nation’s capital? The reason is because we are still a majority African-American city and 8 out of 9 marijuana arrests are African-Americans.
If you look around the room here I don’t see any African-Americans. We have a couple (sorry) but there are definitely more African-Americans in Washington, D.C. as a per capita of the population than here in Seattle and this is a popular issue. This is seen as a civil rights issue. This isn’t seen as a personal freedom or as a business opportunity for a lot of people. This is seen primarily as, “I know somebody who went to jail for marijuana. Every year I know someone who goes to jail for marijuana.”
In fact 1 out of 120 people in the city goes to jail for marijuana annually. Most people know more than 120 people who live in the city. They probably have about 200 friends average or 200 acquaintances so you will know someone ultimately who goes to jail every year for marijuana and people are sick of it.
5,000+ arrests is the highest arrest rate for marijuana in the world. Now it is on the ballot and favored to pass the opposition...where is the opposition? They are barely there except in congress.
To conclude my remarks I want to say that by putting legalization on the ballot here in Washington State and inspiring other states to do it it is going to be on the ballot in DC. If it passed congress will have to review it because our laws are reviewed by congress for 60 days. When that review takes place we hope there will be a great debate about legalization finally in congress and it won’t just be a reactionary approach to it where we are just going to overturn the will of the voters because that’s how bad it is getting for the opponents, for the prohibitionists. The only way they can keep legalization from becoming a reality is to literally overturn an election and they are already threatening it. Andy Harris, the congressman from Maryland, is already threatening it. He’s a right-winger.
I hope people pay attention to what is happening in Washington, D.C. I’ll be available for questions and have a great Hempfest everyone. Thank you for inspiring people on the east coast.
KARI BOITER: So Hempfest is also been really lucky to have some of our leading champions for change come here and speak to us about what we can do to get more involved in the process. This year we have Congressman Dana Rohrabacher from California who is coming to speak to us about change on the federal level. We have former Governor Gary Johnson from New Mexico, one-time presidential candidate. We are really lucky to have state Senator Jean Kohl-Wells who has been somebody who has fought consistently for medical patient rights for over a decade now. I want to go ahead and have her talk about the medical marijuana process and how patients can get more involved in that.
JEANNETTE KOHL-WELLS: Thank you, Kari. It is just delightful to be here especially since I just have to walk across the street from my apartment so it is very convenient. I actually walk through here just about every day early in the morning. I took some photos yesterday while preparations were still going on and posted those on my Facebook page and got a lot of good responses from people who are coming.
I will be speaking tomorrow at the Hemposium on a panel about medical marijuana in Washington State - Can we save it? In that panel we will be discussing what is going on and what needs to be done.
I am very optimistic that we will save medical marijuana in our state.
Because we have to. Medical marijuana is different from recreational marijuana in terms of usage and sometimes people take both but there are distinct differences and we have to do all we can to make sure that those legitimate patients who really get relief and get help for their medical conditions which are sometimes very debilitating, sometimes terminal conditions should be able to get the supply they need, make sure there’s the quality, make sure there is not pesticides being used, there’s adequate testing and that they can get it for a very affordable price and be able to grow it on their own or by a provider.
I got involved with this issue in 1995 - my first year in the senate. I can’t believe almost 20 years has gone by. We’ve made a lot of changes. It’s been a very tough challenging policy because there is such a wide range of beliefs about this natural plant and whether it is an evil, demon weed or if it’s a medicine, whether it should be regulated, whether it should not be. I can just guarantee you this – at least I will be working on the interest of patients as well as public safety when we meet in legislative session next January. I know I’ll be working with Kari Boiter and others who are here.
DOUG McVAY: The voices you just heard in addition to Kari Boiter were Washington State Senator Jeannette Kohl-Wells and Adam Eidinger of the DC Cannabis Campaign.
Hempfest attracts a lot of different sorts of people, as does the legalization movement. A few years back, it was considered quite a coup for the fest to have attracted the actor Woody Harrelson. These days, we're seeing more people from the world of mainstream politics and this year was no exception. Let's hear now from US Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Republican of California, from his speech on main stage at 4pm Friday afternoon.
DANA ROHRABACHER: I’m going to ask a couple questions of you and if you agree with me you might come inaudible] of what I am saying on this. At this point we are paying...the federal government is paying farmers not to grow crops. That’s stupid. It is especially stupid if those farmers could be growing hemp and they wouldn’t have to have federal funding. That’s really stupid.
You know what’s really stupid also? Borrowing money. Every third dollar we spend in Washington is borrowed. What’s really stupid is borrowing money from China in order to subsidize farmers who could be earning an honest living growing hemp.
That’s number one. Is that really stupid? It’s really stupid.
Putting someone in jail for smoking a weed is stupid. Spending limited law enforcement dollars we could put into our courts, into our jails, into our prisons...spending the time and our police and our judges and our jails on people for smoking a weed is really, really stupid.
Let me say that borrowing the money from China in order to take our limited time of our police and judges and prisons in order to put our own people in jail is really, really stupid. Arresting someone for smoking a weed at a time when basically a lot of people are advocating this to help that person. All we’re doing, of course, is putting someone in a cage and giving that person a criminal record that will follow them for the rest of their life. That is really, really stupid.
Having the federal government involved in criminal justice is really stupid. The fact is our founding fathers set up our constitution and said that the federal government isn’t going to involved in criminal justice at all because the federal government should just be defending the nation and doing those things that count for the nation as a whole but criminal justice and other issues were supposed to be left for the states. Having the federal government come in and say that we are going to arrest someone for smoking a weed is stupid.
It is especially stupid if the states have (as this state has and half the other states) voted to make it legal within their state. For the federal government to come in and supersede a state’s decision to not have this as a criminal activity is really, really stupid.
What we have to do now is make sure that America smarts up. We smart up by going back to those fundamental principles that work. For goodness sakes those people who started our constitution had no intent for people in Washington, D.C. to tell you what you can consume and what you can’t consume. That was totally out of their idea of what the federal government should do.
The fact is we know George Washington grew hemp in Mt. Vernon. I don’t know what he was smoking in the Indian peace pipes. The bottom line is we have had 150 years of freedom in our country but for this century for some reason we have been evolving into a tyrannical society.
We don’t need policeman to come and arrest people for their private behavior. We need policeman who are focused on what? Protecting us from each other. Police officers used to be known as peace officers. A peace officer is different now because they are being treated as law enforcement officers.
We have to work to make sure that we do not militarize the local police so they think of themselves as separate from us. The police should be part and partial of each and every one of our societies and our friendships.
What we need to do now is make sure that the conservative Republicans and the liberal Democrats in Washington start working together to be consistent with our basic principles. I’ve been a Republican all my life. Republicans keep talking about limited government, individual freedom, personal responsibility. You know what? They also talk about state’s rights.
We have just won for the first time the first loosening of federal controls on marijuana on holding their feet to their fire and saying, “Do you believe in state’s rights? Do you believe that local people have the right to set their own laws.”
By putting it down to them, challenging them on that issue we had 50 solid Republicans and we joined with the Democrats and for the first time we have reaffirmed that if a state legalizes medical marijuana the federal government shall not interfere with that state or the people in their state.
Now it is up to us. It is up to us to be active. I believe in American freedom and I believe that our government...if we step aside and let other people make the decisions special interest groups will come in and make the decision for us. It is up to us on this issue to make sure that people have the right to consume medical marijuana. If that’s what their choice is then that’s the choice of the people of their states. We have to fight that through until like the Berlin Wall that wall comes down.
If you are interested in joining with me and my efforts in Washington - I want you to get active here locally – but if you are interested in joining me in Washington you can pick up your smartphone and I will get you all the information as it comes up in Washington. Punch the little thing that says “new message” and then text 33733 with the word hemp. I will be happy to give you an update of what’s going on so you can contact your congressman. Go and see your congressman and tell them that for the cause of freedom they need to make sure the federal government isn’t putting people in jail that are no threat to anybody else.
We need to make sure that we want the police to be protecting us against murderers and rapists and child predators. We don’t want our police wasting their time trying to prevent someone from smoking a weed in their own house.
With that said - freedom fighters I’m glad to stand with you today. God bless.
DOUG McVAY: We're about out of time but before we go let's hear just a few minutes from the comedian and activist Ngaio Bealum:
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 about 10 minutes...just going to go through synonyms for weed. You can make up words for weed as long as you use the verb “twist and roll”. Everybody knows what you’re talking about...”Hey, man, twist up a stiff-diffler!”
“Alright, dawg...one fast stiffy comin’ up.”
I love marijuana. I’m a whore for weed. I’m from California. We are going to legalize in 2016 right after Oregon does it this year.
If you live somewhere go hard for weed. Go hard for weed! 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. I forgot where I put them but I tell you why. Marijuana has medicinal properties. You guys all know this shit. Weed fixes this. Weed fixes that. Weed is good for this. They just published a study that marijuana helps alleviate the symptoms and the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. It’s true.
You get so used to forgetting shit you develop a system. When the Alzheimer’s kicks in you just think you’re high. Right?! That’s not a bad way to live because you do forget a lot of shit when you smoke a lot of weed. Mostly I forget where I put my weed. That’s really mostly what happens. I found hash in my passport one time. That’s not a good idea, right?! Don’t hide hash in your passport that’s the first place they look.
“Let me see your passport.”
“No, I’ll race you to the council.”
But I love weed. I’ll give you another reason. For me weed is the umami flavor of life. You understand? It is the ketchup. It is the soy sauce. It is the ranch dressing of doing shit. When shit is cool you put some weed on it and it’s a little bit cooler. Right?! Maybe it’s not cool at all...dip it in some weed and it’s alright.
I don’t like to wash dishes but I don’t mind getting high and washing dishes. You understand? You guys know what I’m talking about. Right?! It takes an extra hour because I have to make a play list.
You know what I’m talking about?! That’s one of the biggest things. That’s one of the biggest things – pot smokers never do anything, “You guys are lazy.”
Right, pot smokers have never done anything like become president or win 8,500 gold medals for swimming like a God damn fish in the Olympics. Pot smokers do things. That’s my whole thing. I like to smoke weed and then go do something. Right?
I’m on the golf course high as hell. Nobody says anything. This is the west coast. What’s somebody going to do? Run over to the game warden and say, “Hey, that black guy’s got a bag of weed.”
What’s he going to say? “Yeah, that sounds about right.”
Right? You got a whiskey and a cigar and I got a blunt. It’s a beautiful day. We’re all having a wonderful time. One time in Sacramento I got paired up with this random middle-aged white people on the golf course. Right around the third hole I tried to smooth it out and pulled out a phat hoot and took a couple puffs. I did the fair thing and asked if they wanted a hit.
“No, thank you but do you have any crack?”
“What the...no. And secondly, who the fuck smokes crack on the golf course?! What the hell is wrong with you? That’s not helping your swing. You coming off like...”
Right drug for the right itinerary. That’s my point. Weed and golf makes sense. Booze and golf make sense. Crack and golf don’t make sense. You understand?! You don’t do crank and go to a chess tournament. You don’t eat a bunch of mushrooms and try to run a marathon.
“What do you mean I’m off course?! This entire planet is off course. Why am I wearing a number? I’m not a number.”
You guys ever do mushrooms when you smoke weed?
Let’s hear it for weed! Who likes weed?!
Don’t forget it’s not just the growers and the sellers who want to make money off of marijuana. There is all kind of other businesses that’s going to make money off of legal weed, right?
I’m going to open a chain of “Bud and Breakfast” hotels. Would you come visit me in the Wake and Bake Inn? Would you come say hello?
Good morning. Good afternoon...really...we don’t get up that early at the Wake and Bake. Take your time. Nothing really happens until 4:20 anyway. And when you do check me out I’m going to give you a little pot chocolate that is going to knock you out, right?!
You’re going to wake up, “I feel great.”
“Great, you’re just in time for blunch. How do you like your eggs?”
Listen, listen...I talk a lot about the virtues of weed and I’m sure, maybe, my daily use of marijuana during the past 20-something years has kind of kept me from a few things. I will be honest, right?!
It looks like I will never ever fulfil my childhood dream of becoming a ninja.
DOUG McVAY: I'm getting as much audio as I can at Hempfest, interviews with people as well as speeches and panel discussions so even if you didn't make it this year, you will hear some of the highlights over the next couple of weeks. I'm also be taking photos of the event from the crowd, from backstage, and from on stage, from everywhere, really, you will find those and some words about the fest on my blog at celebstoner dot com, where you can check out pictures from last year's HempFest on my blog, I covered last year's fest for celebstoner as well.
That's it for this week. I'm Doug McVay and this was Century of Lies. Thank you for listening. You can find a recording of this show and past shows at the website drug truth dot net, where you can check out our other programs and subscribe to our podcasts. Follow me on Twitter, where I'm @ Drug Policy Facts and @ Doug McVay. The Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, be sure to give its page a Like, you can find Drug War Facts on Facebook as well, please give it a like and share it with friends. Spread the word. Remember: Knowledge is power.
We'll be back next week with more news and commentary on 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 Dean Becker asking you to examine our policy of Drug Prohibition.
The Century of Lies.
This show produced at Pacifica Studios at KPFT, Houston.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org