08/24/14 Doug McVay
Century of Lies
Doug McVay reports: This week show is part two of our coverage of Hempfest 2014. The event was held August 15th, 16th, and 17th in Seattle, Washington. I walked miles from one end of the fest to the other to get audio and photographs of the activists and organizers from around the country working to legalize marijuana and end the war on drugs.
Century of Lies August 24, 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 Pacifica Foundation Radio Network and is supported by the generosity of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and of listeners like you.
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This week show is part two of our coverage of Hempfest 2014. The event was held August 15th, 16th, and 17th in Seattle, Washington. I walked miles from one end of the fest to the other to get audio and photographs of the activists and organizers from around the country working to legalize marijuana and end the war on drugs.
You can find an album of my pics through the Drug War Facts page on Facebook, just give the page a like then go to the photo section and open up the Seattle Hempfest 2014 album. In that album you will not find pics of bands, bongs, booth babes, and bud bimbos. What you will find instead are pictures of some of the top names in cannabis and the legalization movement, many of whose voices you'll hear on the show.
Some of you may not be familiar with Hempfest, you may be wondering how it got so big, why folks still go there. Well, you have questions, we find the answers. First, here's Hempfest's executive director Vivian McPeak:
VIVIAN McPEAK: This is the 23rd time that we’ve thrown the Seattle Hempfest. We had a rough setup, a rough roll out. We had a record rain on one of the nights that we were setting up and then it rained on us on the first morning, Friday, as well but we have an amazing crew with incredible tenacity and dedication. Now I’d like to say that we are over the hump but I think it is more appropriate to say we are over the hemp.
We are almost done with the second day. We got it dialed in and we are just proud to say that we have what I think is one of the most largest, most sophisticated, most socially responsible protestival.
DOUG McVAY: You had Congressman Dana Rohrabacher as a speaker here. He was at main stage yesterday afternoon. I was on a panel with him today at Hemposium. I remember back in the days when you were lucky to get a congressional staffer to pop their head in unannounced and not reveal who they were but at least listen to some of this and you actually had a sitting member of congress up there. Talk about the progress you’ve been making.
VIVIAN McPEAK: Congressman Rohrabacher gave a blistering speech last night at our VIP party and there was a point where I thought, “OK, I’m going to wake up and it’s going to be Friday morning and I’m going to say that I had this crazy dream you are not going to believe that we had a Tea Party member, a conservative Republican congressman up here basically being our brother and speaking our language when it comes to freedom and personal responsibility in the cannabis issue.”
There is a time...if I ever knew when we started this that we would not only have our former police chief but our current mayor and now we’ve had a current congressman speaking on our stage about marijuana legalization I wouldn’t have believed it but it shows that almost anything is possible.
I think we are turning a corner. I think that legalization at this point is a steamroller rolling downhill and even a conservative presidential administration, even some catastrophe on the news...I don’t think there is anything that is going to hold us back. There are going to be some speed bumps on the way to legalization but I think there are not going to be any twists or turns that are going to turn us around at this point.
DOUG McVAY: One last because I know you have to get back to work since you are so busy. A lot of people...there are people out there who would say, “Well, you’ve got a legalization here in Washington. Hempfest does it really need to still keep going on? Why keep on doing this event?”
VIVIAN McPEAK: Yeah, sure, I’ve heard that. To those people what I would say is it is legal here in Washington to have 28 grams but 29 grams is a misdemeanor, 40 grams is a felony. Any amount of plants for a non-patient can get you 5 years in a jail and, of course, federally it’s all illegal so while we are doing this interview somebody is having their life destroyed, losing their home, their children, their freedom over a non-violent victimless crime and so as long...As long as marijuana is a federal Schedule I controlled substance we are going to be fighting tooth and nail to change the laws.
DOUG McVAY: Now, let's hear how it all started, this is a founder of Hempfest, the MC at Seeley Stage, my friend Gary Cook:
GARY COOK: In the very beginning when I was started out telling people about this things were pretty repressed here in Seattle. There was Operation Green Merchant happening. Things were really tough. People were paranoid beyond belief.
I came from San Francisco. That was much more tolerant and I was just astounded by basically what my mom taught me from being in occupied France that you guys are occupied by your own government here. I was pretty...I wanted to change that.
I had this idea after going to an event here in Seattle. They were going to talk about hemp which I basically knew very little about. The guy that was putting on the speak about it never showed up. I decided from there that I was going to have to do something about it myself.
At that point a lot of people told me back then, “Gary, you’re stupid. It is going to be you and the cops there.”
I’m like, “Well, then it will be me, the cops and my family. That’s fine.”
But people showed up and the following year more people showed up. Amazing, you know. We get there on Sunday morning and there would be people sleeping all around. I thought they were bums at first but they said, “No, I’m from Arizona. I came here to help out when I heard about this Hempfest.”
“No, I’m from Idaho (or wherever it was) and I didn’t know where else to go so I came here and slept on the grass. Do you guys need help?”
That was great. I knew then we had something. People come from out of state.
DOUG McVAY: You build something really beautiful. I remember Green Merchant. I was working at NORML at the time. That whole period was nuts.
GARY COOK: Oh, yeah. It was dark, dark days. You know what? That’s happening right now on some part of the country. Right now...that’s the thing that I always try to mention on stage. We are doing this for the people east of us – 1 hour, 2 hours...let alone a 6 hour flight. In between here and New York things are not quite the same as they are here on the west coast and people just don’t realize what kind of Nazi states are still going on parallel to this in the United States right now.
DOUG McVAY: You’ve got some work to do. Do you have any words for the audience?
GARY COOK: I would say probably one of the most important things that I’ve seen happen and still need to happen is we need to learn more and we need to teach more. The truth will seep through the smallest of cracks. I think that’s Thorough or something.
DOUG McVAY: As the drug war ends, a new paradigm and new structures evolve. It's important that the rights and interests of those who work in newly created industries, like the legal adult-use marijuana business, are protected. Let's hear now from one of the key individuals involved in organizing cannabis workers:
ANNOUNCER: Check, check, check. There you go, Jeff. OK, it is working. It is working.
OK, Dan Rush is coming up and this guy is not your typical Hempfester. In fact, that’s one thing that we’ve noticed through the years – there really isn’t a typical Hempfester. You’ll see older people, younger people, kids, families – it’s great. I think that’s one thing the police force here in Seattle actually has learned. The police have actually grown up with us here and they see what we are all about and that we’re not really the people that they thought we were. We’re actually really nice and helpful and grateful.
They’ve learned that, “Those Hempfest people – they’re not so bad.”
The one guy was telling me, “I’d rather work 25 Hempfest than 1 football game because there is fights all the time. That’s all you do is break up fights.”
Dan Rush, please give it up...
DAN RUSH: Thanks, you guys. Who here is enjoying a cannabis cigarette this morning? You want to hold your hands up? Who here is enjoying the work that we’ve been doing for years to be able to sit here this year, the first year at Hempfest, and actually sit down, smoke a joint, hand it to each other, wave and smile at a police officer, say hello to the butcher down on the corner, say hello to the teacher around the corner and say, “Hey!”
Just like our brother said. We’re not weird. There’s nothing wrong with us. All we are are people who decided that we want to live the way that we want to live and then we got involved with the process in learning how to live with the rest of the world.
Five years ago I got up on this stage and I talked about we have to sign this petition and we have to sign this initiative and we have to support this legislation. Do you guys remember that? Remember the years before when we had to come here and struggle instead of like last year when I got here and the cops handed me a bag of Doritos and said, “Keep your music down but have a good time.”
I love that. I got to stand on the bridge over here with a couple of cops who were actually saying hi to people and being helpful and they were in the vibe of what was going on.
Let me just tell you this year the struggle is we have adult consumption of cannabis in the state of Washington. I was at a place in Tacoma this morning that was having its grand opening and the place was great. As we were arriving because I worked in the medical cannabis industry exclusively for so many years and all of the problems in that and as I look up I see that we are driving into a shopping center with a Hustler store.
I’m thinking, “Oh, no, not a medical cannabis place next to a Hustler store.”
Then, I remember we’re not going to a medical cannabis place we are going to an adult consumption, retail cannabis shop where people work. They have a job. They raise their families. They have kids and they are part of the community.
Another thing is we spend the first day at Hempfest working on our speeches and stuff and kind of working on what we are going to say at 4:20. I really want to thank you guys for sitting and listening today and let me pick up my rhythm. I just want to say, “Who wants to smoke a joint?!”
Who wants to sit down and smoke a joint and not be committing a crime?
Thank you, very much and don’t forget to join the union. Be happy when you see the union.
DOUG McVAY: Give me your title and your affiliation.
DAN RUSH: I’m the director of the Cannabis Workers Rising Campaign for the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union. I live in California and I work all over the country, all over the continent.
What UFCW is doing is organizing cannabis and hemp workers all across the continent. We are completely amazed at how people are glad about joining the union, passionate about joining the union, passionate about their desire to bring components of dignity like certifications and training and other incentives for workers.
Obviously our goal is to create a sustainable, single-earner industry. What that means is...we’re designing our industry just like our grocery workers and our meat cutters where one parent can work and support the household and the other parent is free to stay home and raise the family or free to go get another job but one worker in the family has the benefits, the health insurance, the pension for the household.
That’s our goal along with creating certifications based on training and apprentership programs. We want to create a real industry. We are helping our members find security in the job place by defining their job place and regulations. We are helping our members educate society from the perspective of looking at cannabis as medicine and, also, as an alternative recreational consumable for adults (and I mean adults) to have an alternative to alcohol and also the fantastic medicine that we’ve all learned that cannabis is.
Not only is it a good wellness herb, not only is it a good medicine, not only is it good for adults to find a relaxation point, we’ve discovered that it’s God’s all around natural Tylenol for human kind. Our goal is to develop this industry and make it dignified – 21st century. So our members and their families can raise families working in this industry.
So that’s kind of what we are doing. In Washington State we’ve been organizing the existing medical cannabis workers and that’s because they are under threat. They have no agency. They are not Cole Memo compliant so what we want to do is help the state develop that agency so that medical workers are also protected by the Cole Memo of August 2013 because we don’t want to lose that industry.
Sure, you know, adult consumption is a great thing but at the same time we want to make sure that the medical industry is established and maintained and evolved as a medical industry.
There is a medical alcohol industry. There is also a pharmaceutical industry. Our members work in those industries. It is only natural that our members work in any industry of commercial production for human consumption and wear. That’s what we are doing. Securing our members’ jobs and securing other future members that want to work in that industry. It’s good to see you, man.
DOUG McVAY: It’s good to see you and it’s good that you’re doing all the work that you are doing. We’re seeing all kinds of people who are scared of unions and really all you are talking about is the American dream. That’s all. Which is revolutionary.
DAN RUSH: Not only are not something to worry about from any perspective – the community, our member the worker, the employer – there’s nothing to worry about in having a collective bargaining industry, an industry that is partnered with a union of the industry. That’s something that we want employers to know. We are not here to try to put them out of business. We are not here to try to make things harder on them. As a matter of fact our regulatory plan and our policy plans actually help them grow and help them realize through the strength of a partnership that we are creating a standard that is going to help them thrive because if they thrive then their workers (our members) thrive as well. If they don’t thrive we don’t have any members. If they do thrive we have lots of members and we’ve created new jobs.
We hope that everybody understands that across the board. On the other hand we’re also going to get rid any kind of old child labor laws or improper working conditions. This is a small industry. It is not a giant grocery industry so you don’t have 4 or 500 people working in one facility because it is easy to get lost there. That’s not the case here. The companies are small. The dispensaries, the production facilities are smaller and so, therefor, it’s a different protection for workers. Our goal is to advance them. They don’t need as much protection as working in a big, giant place and nobody knows anybody and you get lost there. In our companies we see a lot of our job in the collective bargaining process and in stabilizing our members’ jobs as we also help the governmental structure find the appropriate structures for the industry.
That’s what we are doing. It’s always good to see you, man.
DOUG McVAY: It has been a pleasure.
DOUG McVAY: You're listening to Century Of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network. I'm your guest host Doug McVay, editor of Drug War Facts dot org.
Paul Stanford is a longtime activist as well as the owner of a large chain of medical cannabis and holistic health clinics. He's based in Portland, Oregon, I caught up with him at his booth at Hempfest.
DOUG McVAY: The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation is one of the big sponsors here, one of the prime sponsors – many, many thanks. This is an incredible event and I know without that kind of support it couldn’t happen. A great debt of gratitude to you for that.
You are going to doing an event down in Portland pretty soon. When’s that coming up? Tell me about it.
PAUL STANFORD: It’s September 27th and 28th at Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park on both Saturday and Sunday. We’ve got Lucas Nelson and Promise of the Real - a very incredible guitarist who plays with Neil Young and plays with his dad, Willie Nelson. We’ve also got John Trudell and Bad Dog, Lost Marijuanos. The Herbavores will be playing who have some incredible music and lots of great speakers so it will be September 27th and 28th at Portland’s Tom McCall Waterfront Park. You can find out more at http://hempstalk.org
DOUG McVAY: That’s fantastic and, of course, it is a free festival. You are going to bringing in all these speakers and all of these bands together telling people about hemp and cannabis and doing it so people can come in and learn. It’s a great thing that you are doing. Thank you.
So you’ve been here at Hempfest. What do you think? 2014, we’ve had a little time for people to actually realize that legalization in Washington really happened. We’ve got adult use spots around. You are around a lot of places. What do you think about Washington these days?
PAUL STANFORD: It’s a big step forward to be able to legally possess an ounce and be able to...here they’ve got smoking areas where you can legally use marijuana but it is not far enough. It doesn’t allow a person to grow a single plant. If you have 29 grams to 40 grams it’s a misdemeanor. Once you go over 40 grams you’re still a felon here so this law didn’t go far enough. Colorado’s is somewhat better but the initiative we have in Oregon this fall will leapfrog Oregon ahead with an even better law with one low tax and one low license fee that would allow small businesses to thrive and allow hemp to sold at a much cheaper price without effecting medical marijuana patients.
DOUG McVAY: We all hope Measure 91 passes...
PAUL STANFORD: I don’t know what the number designation is in Alaska but Alaska and Oregon are both voting as a state and then the District of Columbia in Washington, D.C. where you used to live.
DOUG McVAY: And, of course, Florida is doing its medical. Let’s talk legalization for a minute. You are right that Oregon’s bill is better than the other two but it’s still not going to take it as far as it needs to go but that’s just it. We have a lot of work to do. It’s not finished just because of one thing.
PAUL STANFORD: It’s a big jump forward. You win one battle and see there is a whole new set of problems, a whole new set of dilemmas and you have to constantly defend and represent in the political process. We just have to educate ourselves that it’s not one thing that is going to end marijuana prohibition. It is going to be a lifelong effort. There is going to be steps forward and setbacks and just expect that we just have to get the truth out there.
Marijuana isn’t bad for you. It’s really good for adults. I think that the more we are able to demonstrate that we can use cannabis legally and responsibly the sooner we will see a rational policy implemented.
NGAIO BEALUM: We all smoke a lot of weed here. Maybe you don’t have to worry so much in Washington but you still have to worry in other places that you go. It’s like this. When it is time to redo my driver’s license picture I get high as hell. You understand?
I pull into the parking lot at the DMV and I hotbox the shit of it in my car like I got 3 other people with me because I want them to think that I look like that all the time. So when they pull me over it’s like, “What seems to be the trouble?”
“You can go, sir.”
I told that joke one time and this dude in the crowd was like, “Man, I get high before job interviews.”
I was like, “Dawg, that’s crazy talk.”
He’s like, “If I can’t handle the interview I can’t handle the job.”
I was like, “Alright, that makes sense.”
I would hire him. If he did well at the interview I would hire him for knowing that about himself because he won’t be different after lunch. Some dudes come back after lunch and they can’t count the money as fast...right?
I love marijuana. Did I mention that? I go hard for weed. Can we legalize weed? I know you got it here but can we improve and refine it? Can we legalize weed in California? Go hard. Go hard.
Become a Weed-hovas Witness. Go door to door. “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 do have papers because I’ll roll a joint because I’m “old school.” I’m not old. I’m “old school.”
I’m getting older though. I realized that last year when I went to jail. They took me to jail on a “failure to appear” that I thought I had appeared at. That’s just embarrassing.
I was in a jail cell with this young brother, right...it’s just black people so it’s just me and him. I was like, “Hey, man, you like that old school hip hop?”
He goes, “You mean like Dre or Snoop?”
I was like, “No, old school like African Bam Badda, Run DMC, Grand Master Flash.”
He goes, “Oh, you mean golden age.”
DOUG McVAY: 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