05/08/16 Doug McVay

Century of Lies

This week we bring you sounds from the first annual cannabis Cultivation Classic in Portland, Oregon, including interviews with US Representative Earl Blumenauer, author Robert C. Clarke, and activist Madeline Martinez.

Audio file


MAY 8, 2016


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

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

Well, recently I had the pleasure of attending the Cultivation Classic in Portland, Oregon. It's the first annual such event, it was essentially a cannabis cup-style, a cannabis competition, sponsored by Willamette Week, a local newspaper. Tell you what, here's Mark Zusman, the publisher of Willamette Week. He'll tell you about it.

MARK ZUSMAN: Hey, everybody. I'm really here for one reason, I guess a couple of reasons. One is to thank you for coming, and two, to ask you to just take a second and savor the moment, because everybody in this room is a small part of history. It's been said before, but I want to repeat it again: This event is the globe's first cannabis competition for cannabis that is pesticide-free, herbicide-free, mineral salt fertilizer free, and it is an extraordinary event, and I believe points the way for where this state can go, what it can do for our economy. If we play this right, if we have leaders like Congressman Blumenauer to help us understand that we can create something that nobody else on the globe is thinking about, let alone moving, and it started here, and you're all a part of it. So I hope you feel good about that.

With that, he's been introduced several times, a guy for whom this event would not have taken place, were it -- without his force of personality, Jeremy Plumb. Jeremy.

JEREMY PLUMB: Um, really an honor and pleasure to be here with everybody, and to see everybody together. I hope you all are really beginning to relish in the riches that is our region's expression of this movement. It is a powerful movement, and one that Congressman Blumenauer has been fighting to evolve and bring progress to since 1973, probably earlier. I'm nearly 40 years old, I wasn't born yet, and he was working to bring legalization into the state of Oregon and to the country, and to evolve a failing drug war and, as it was starting, and really, the reality is we're all here in part because of a kind of visionary leadership that's gone on with the legislature, and the community activists engaging in what is an unprecedented dialogue. And in this creative conversation, we truly hope to exemplify the best practices in the world of cannabis, and I mean international influence, from our humble platform.

This event was born out of a dialogue that happened in Washington, DC, last summer. I went on a team of lobbyists, on behalf of the OCA, the Oregon Cannabis Association, to Capitol Hill. We were greeted by Congressman Blumenauer and his staffers, as we went across the hill, working with congresspeople, senators, and staffers, in an education effort, mainly to reform banking issues and 280e. There was a dinner, and during this lovely dinner, Congressman Blumenauer approached me and talked about his passion for a statewide identity, that clearly Oregon has many things that distinguish us, in so many ways, from the nation and the world, and our religious effort to curate everything, to pursue the greatest depth of craft in all of the different facets.

This is meant to be a coming out, where cannabis joins the culture of Oregon, where we have incredible vintners, microbrewers, distilled spirits, incredible chefs and bakers, and musicians, and artists, and it is a unique culture, but that the idea is, Earl essentially has tasked us with coming together to really make sure that our collective identity is felt, and it's one that's defined by religious devotion to craft production, by great care in execution, is maybe a better way to say that, and then, simultaneously, to do that ecologically, and with principles of sustainability and to really push the best practices, to avoid the mineral salts and the fallout in our fresh water system, to avoid the pesticides and contamination that could effect patients' health and consumers' well-being.

And really, is was actually in this one dinner where this event was born. And so, this is the reason why, among a thousand others, that we're presenting an award tonight to Congressman Blumenauer. It is a great honor to have you present to this initial journey, and we present to you the distinguished leadership award. There are more adjectives that should be applied that are deserved here, and it would get very long, but this is sufficient. You have brought in the truest kind of leadership I have ever known. I am so grateful to get to be here with you. Thank you, sir.

CONGRESSMAN EARL BLUMENAUER: Okeh. Thank you, Jeremy. Evangelical zeal, and about half my speech. And you did it better than I could. Thank you. Thank you for your enthusiasm, and thank you for your focus. And, Mark and Jeremy are right. We are part of an effort today that is defining the gold standard for the Oregon cannabis industry. You're all a part of it. Savor it. I don't think, I do a lot of work with people in this industry across the country. I don't think this could have happened anyplace else but here in Portland, Oregon.

I think -- I think it was entirely appropriate that Steph called out the number of people who helped make it possible, and that Mark and Jeremy focused on what this means, and I hope you will join us in appreciating this and all doing our part. We are starting a new Oregon tradition, with the Cultivation Classic. It's an example of the type of refinement we're going to see that is going to set Oregon cannabis apart from anyplace in America. It is sort of in our DNA.

Earlier this week, I was with some of the pioneers in the Oregon wine industry, who, forty years ago, had a vision. They created an industry that has made, is one of the defining characteristics of Oregon, it's protected our land, it's added to tourism, it's given a sense of identity. We can do this with cannabis.

We are the epicenter of specialty coffee roasting. They've actually moved their national headquarters to Portland, Oregon. We can do this with cannabis.

We are the American capitol of craft cider. More cider here than anyplace else in the country, more per capita consumption, more awards being won, and it's just exploded in the last three years as part of a national movement. We can do that with Oregon cannabis.

Portland is Beervana. Craft beer capitol of the world. And we can do this with cannabis. It's the same commitment to detail, trying to do it right, being able to develop products, be able to do it in terms of treating the customer right, the employees right, building business.

And it's, I think, an opportunity for us this year. The cannabis movement is cresting in the United States. Ten states are going to vote on either adult use or medical marijuana, up to ten. We've already passed a half dozen measures on the floor of the House of Representatives. This Congress has passed -- think about it! There is a bipartisan commitment to stop the insanity of forcing state legal marijuana businesses to be all cash. We're going to stop that. The notion that they are going to be taxed punitively, that we're going to have a stranglehold on research, to be able to settle these questions, once and for all. These are within our grasp this year.

Last week, I went to the United Nations for the meetings dealing with the international drug conventions. I was disappointed that the United States was not part of the reform of these outmoded conventions. But I was excited that Mexico stepped up, and is talking about proposing legalization of marijuana in Mexico next year. The new government in Canada is going to propose legalization of marijuana north of the border next year. That, coupled with what we're doing in the United States, I think we're, this train has left the station. Five years from now it's game over. It might actually happen sooner than that, and what we're doing in Oregon is setting the tone for the country. It's going to be key for being successful at the ballot box, and the emergence of this exciting new industry.

I want to thank you for being a part of this new tradition. Thank you for your support of Measure 91. Thank you, all of you involved with the industry for working to create the gold standard, and move us forward. It's going to make a difference for Americans. It's -- we're going to end the repressive, unfair inequities in the judicial system. We're going to stop criminalizing harmless behavior of otherwise law-abiding adults. We're going to open a whole new industry. We'll stop the hypocrisy and the damage of the flawed war on drugs, and you're playing a critical part of it right here in Portland, Oregon. Congratulations, and thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Mark Zusman, followed by Jeremy Plumb, who introduced US Congressman Earl Blumenauer. Congressman Blumenauer was there at the Cultivation Classic to speak, and also to help hand out the awards for the top cannabis cultivated in Oregon. I always knew that marijuana would become legal, I always knew that we would see and hear things that -- well, were going to be a little unusual, but I have to admit, seeing a US Congressman handing out glass trophies to marijuana growers for having grown the best marijuana in the state, that was just a little surreal. I caught up with Congressman Blumenauer after the award presentation to get a few words.

Congressman Blumenauer, did you think, when you started doing this back in the 70s, that you would be somewhere like here, handing out awards at a cannabis cup?

EARL BLUMENAUER: Probably not, but, actually when we started working on this in the 70s, I thought we would have gone to legalization a lot faster. We had momentum, but then we had all of a sudden the Nixon war on drugs, and the Reagan's just say no, and the international war on drugs. So we got sidetracked for about 20 years. But this has been terrific. I'm really proud of how Oregon has approached this. Measure 91, I think, is the best proposal of anyplace in the country. You see here people who are committed to the gold standard, they want to do it right, they want to understand how to serve their customers, they want to understand the nature of the product. And I find it encouraging and inspiring.

This is going to help with the campaigns around the country this year. We've got maybe as many as ten states that will be voting in the legislature or at the ballot box. Next year, Canada and Mexico are moving towards legalization. This is the year that this movement, I think, is cresting.

DOUG MCVAY: Do you think we'll have it done by ten years?

EARL BLUMENAUER: I think five years from now, we'll be basically treating cannabis like alcohol. States will be able to make the decision that people in the states want. If Colorado wants it, and Utah doesn't, that's fine. Just like you can have alcohol regulated by the states. I think we will have everybody having access to medical marijuana, and I think we will break down the barriers to research. I'm very optimistic that five years, it's game over.

DOUG MCVAY: Terrific. And any final thoughts for the listeners?

EARL BLUMENAUER: Well, this is something to watch here in Oregon, as the men and women who are trying to develop this, use it as, you know, creating a gold standard, trying to do it right, trying to balance the interests, watching things like this emerge, that's going to be a dramatic new addition to Oregon. It's going to help the economy, it's going to help in terms of opportunities for medical marijuana. We're going to stop criminalizing behaviors of otherwise law abiding adults. I mean, I think this is a, is going to be transformational here.

DOUG MCVAY: Congressman, thank you again, so much.


DOUG MCVAY: That was US Representative Earl Blumenauer. I was speaking to him at the Cultivation Classic, which was held at the very end of April in Portland, Oregon. It was the first such event in the state.

You're listening to Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org.

The Cultivation Classic featured a number of great speakers. The first keynote address of the day was delivered by Robert Connell Clarke. He's the author of The Botany And Ecology Of Cannabis, Marijuana Botany, Hashish, and Cannabis Evolution And Ethnobotany. He is a brilliant writer, and has been doing this stuff since even before I got involved in marijuana, which is quite a long time. Here's our interview.

I'm here at the Cultivation Classic in Portland, speaking to Robert C. Clarke, who is one of the best, he's one of the best writers and one of the best minds in the marijuana business. Well, strike "business", one of the best minds and one of the best writers on marijuana. It's an honor to finally meet you, frankly. You just spoke here at the Classic. Could you tell people what you were -- in a nutshell, what do you hope people take away from your talk?

ROBERT C. CLARKE: I guess I'm just hoping that people will, amidst all this wonderful celebration, remember that this is a chance for us to determine the future. What we're here doing is discriminating quality, and that's what regulators and people in the future will be doing, they'll be trying to determine the qualities of the cannabis, not just whether it makes you high in a certain way or medicates you in a certain way, but whether it's pure and clean, and it is what it says it is. And that's important, and this is a time when we can begin to mold these decisions ourselves, and make our own culture move forward. We can't expect people that don't understand the situation as well as we do to make proper decisions.

DOUG MCVAY: This is true. Your perspective, I mean you have been looking at this for the last few decades, you've been at this longer than I have and that really is, frankly, saying something. What do you think about the way things have evolved so far?

ROBERT C. CLARKE: I think it's fantastic. We're right in the middle of the evolution, and it's not linear evolution anymore, it's sort of a shotgun evolution, it's spreading in all directions, and it's fascinating to watch. It, like all evolution though, there are going to be survivors, and winners and losers, you know, and that's -- and it's happening so fast that the changes are -- yeah, they're going to be major and precipitous for some. And I hate to see that, I just don't want us to -- I want people to come and go, and profit or not, based on their skills, and not just simply because they think it's owed to them, or because they have more money than the next guy, which would be referring to big business or my previous comment, to those who figure they should be grandfathered into this just because they got there first. These are a lot of my old friends, and I'm sorry for those that can't handle the paperwork and all this, but, that's the way it's going. And, yeah, it's time to cope and mold our own society to do what we want it to do.

DOUG MCVAY: Where do you think we're going to be in another five years, say. Next president, heck, the president after next one.

ROBERT C. CLARKE: I think by then we will force the federal government to make a decision. Either, maybe they just back off and leave it up to the states, maybe they come up with a federal policy which seems to me more sensible. But nothing will proceed unless cannabis is descheduled. This is our biggest issue. It's still treated, THC, THC-bearing cannabis, and even CBD, which is non-psychoactive, they're still schedule one compounds. They're not accepted for medicinal use. What a joke. But they're not accepted by the establishment for medicinal use, and that's what's important, not what we think works or not. And, you can't trade them over state lines. A lot of this is being ignored, especially in the case of CBD, but it's not going to continue this way.

It's going to change, and whether it will be in five years, I don't know. I'm afraid to predict. I joined NORML in about 1973, and I thought Jimmy Carter was going to make all this real, so, I'm afraid to make any predictions. I just hope we get things on the ballot. It doesn't really matter, in a way, what we vote for. We need to stop arresting people. That's the bottom line. That's why we started this movement 40 years, is to stop arresting people. We still arrest people, so actually we haven't evolved at all. We arrest more people now than ever. So, get a grip, everybody. You know, that's more important than celebrating and getting high and medicating oneself, or making money, or anything. It's civil liberties, you know, we've got to quit incarcerating people for growing a plant. It's just stupid.

DOUG MCVAY: Any closing thoughts for the listeners, and do you have a website or social media stuff where people can follow the work that you do?

ROBERT C. CLARKE: Not really doing much social media. I believe MarijuanaBotany is probably on instagram, something like that, but, no. I'm starting a consulting company with friends, and it's called Bio-Agronomics Group, and you can check our fledgling website, BioAgronomics.com. We're trying to work with people, help them liase into the new reality, and help beginners get started. What I'm really looking for is attracting business from people who've never grown. They're easier to work with.

DOUG MCVAY: Robert Connell Clarke, one of the heroes of this movement, it is an honor. Thank you so much, sir.

ROBERT C. CLARKE: Thank you very much.

DOUG MCVAY: That was an interview with Robert Connell Clarke, the author of Marijuana Botany, and many other books. Now while we have time, I also ran into my friend Madeline Martinez over there at the Cultivation Classic, and got a few words with her. She of course founded the original World Famous Cannabis Cafe, here in Portland, Oregon, back before we had legal dispensaries. She is on the board of national NORML, and, well, here's that interview.

You've hosted cannabis cups before, this is my first time at one of these. I don't have anything to compare to. How do you think this thing is going? We're at, of course, the Cultivation Classic, sponsored by Willamette Week.

MADELINE MARTINEZ: I cannot speak highly enough of Willamette Week and the whole crew from Willamette Week. Tyler Hurst, you know, there's just so many of them, which -- it's just a nice, amazing event, and no one's bothering or harassing us here in Portland, Oregon. And I think it's really outstanding what they've done. Not too loud, very comfortable, everyone seems to be happy, having a good time. Not overcrowded, either. So, I think, I'm enjoying myself. I've had a great time, and I'm getting to speak to all these vendors that have lovely products that I would not otherwise see. And I do go to the cannabis cups, and various things, and we've never had anything this large, here, with Oregon NORML or the World Famous Cannabis Cafe, because they're doing in and out, and I think that's really great. And then, they have some seminars here, so it's a great learning experience as well, you know? If you want to take the time and learn, and sit through the presentations, it's well worth your while.

DOUG MCVAY: In fact, I'm recording with our other machine, we're recording some of the -- so hopefully we'll be able to play back some of the audio for folks. Okeh, got to ask, how do you think the roll-out of adult use has gone so far, and what do you see coming forward?

MADELINE MARTINEZ: Well, you know, I'm really excited about the fact that we legalized marijuana. It was a long, hard road, you know. I was glad to be one of the drafters of Measure 91. And, I was really pleased with it. Right now I'm pretty disappointed that the legislature has taken it upon themselves, even though we instructed them three times in our language to not let it impact the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act, in any way. They still have impacted it, and it's really sad, because the rumors are that it's going to go away, and that's the medical marijuana program. And I just think it would be most, you know, just a horrible thing to happen, really. Very sad. We worked so hard on that, and there's a lot of patients that need that. And I just can't imagine that they're going to do it, and I'm going to fight every bit I can to make sure that does not happen.

I think it's really important for all marijuana activists in Oregon to make sure that we maintain that for our patients. I'm a patient, but, you know, I don't have a card. I went rogue in 2014, as we were drafting the law, I thought, you know, what am I doing working my butt off to legalize and then pay for a program? I did pay for 14 years. Lucky -- I was lucky enough to be a Kaiser patient, and for all the years, I paid $35 to the doctor, so I can't imagine paying $400, close to $500 to become a patient. I think it's really extortion. I think that the fact that it helps so much, reduce the use of the Oregon Health Plan, for pharmaceuticals, is a great savings to the state.

But, you know, it's sad that so many physicians are choosing to pull the opiates, or the pain medicine, that they've gotten patients addicted to, in the middle of everything, because they want to wean themselves off with marijuana. I think that they should consider that, as I said, marijuana can be a bridge to recovery. Not only off opiates, and other addictive, you know, drugs, well, pharmaceuticals that we're given every day. But alcohol as well. You know, I've seen it happen in my own family, and so the fact that they're not opening their minds. But here it is, that we have options.

As a matter of fact, that leads into an issue that I'm dealing with right now, the fact that, I don't see why a patient or a consumer can't sample the products before they purchase them. We used to have, you know, before the law, in that gray area before the dispensary law passed, we used to have a little door to a supply room that was called "the medicine cabinet," and patients could purchase marijuana there, with their card and ID, for a $150. And that was below street value, and not very many growers were pleased with me at first. But it became the norm, and many people said, oh darn it, man, she really brought down street prices. But, you know, I'm proud, I wear that badge with honor, because no one deserves to be treated that way.

DOUG MCVAY: That was an interview with Madeline Martinez, a board member of national NORML, founder of the original World Famous Cannabis Cafe in Portland, Oregon, and a long time legalization activist.

And well, that's it for today. Thank you for joining us. You have been listening to Century Of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network, on the web at DrugTruth.net. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. The Drug Truth Network is on Facebook, please give its page a like. Drug War Facts is on Facebook too, give it a like and share it with friends. You can follow me on Twitter, I'm @DougMcVay and of course also @DrugPolicyFacts.

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

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