Doug McVay reports from Seattle Hempfest: Ben Livingston a reporter for "The Stranger", Jeff Steinborn NORML legal Atty, Adam Eidenger of Dr. Bronner Hemp Soap, Ed Forchien the NJ Weedman, comedian Ngaio Bealum, Mickey Marten author & Steve DeAngelo Dir of Harborside
Century of Lies
Sunday, August 25, 2013
Harborside Health Center
Mon, 08/26/2013 - 12:33
Century of Lies / August 25, 2013
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: This is Doug McVay bringing you Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network from KPFT Houston and the Pacifica Network.
Welcome to Seattle Hempfest. This year is a very special year for a very special reason – I502. This is the first fest since Washington voters approved Initiative 502 and as a result became one of the first two states in the U.S. to legalize marijuana for adult social use.
Because of the votes on I502 in Washington and Amendment 64 in Colorado a whole world has turned upside down.
BEN LIVINGSTON: My name is Ben Livingston. I am with the Center for Legal Cannabis. I am also with The Stranger, an alternative weekly paper in the city of Seattle.
My impression of this Hempfest is that it is pretty much like the last one we had, police aren’t ticketing people. The only real difference is that the police are actually giving out chips – not only not giving out tickets but also giving out chips.
They were pretty lenient. This was always a very big cultural phenomenon, people smoking weed on the Seattle waterfront. It’s been tolerated for a long time. I don’t see a lot of difference except maybe a little bit of the fear has dissipated.
It’s my hope that maybe more people are encouraged to try cannabis especially as a substitute for alcohol. I think by normalizing it with our vote we can help do that. There might be an element of some people feeling more comfortable coming down here and smoking weed especially now that the cops say they are not going to do anything about it.
My impression, in general, is that this is a very unique time and place in that great change is happening and it’s happening very quickly. The crack in the wall has opened and we are but the beginning. This is very exciting.
There is a lot happening. The liquor board is moving forward with licensing. They are supposed to have all the rules and regulations done by December 1s t, 2013 and maybe come 2014 in the middle of April we may actually have a pot source where we can go and buy cannabis without having a medical cannabis authorization which I think will be very exciting.
I used to be a medical cannabis patient. I had an authorization for two years. I let it expire. The day before I let it expire I went to the farmers’ market and bought as much hash as I could because I’m going to hold out. I let it expire – I’m going to hold out until pot is actually sold in the stores and I don’t have to have a little piece of paper that says...I’ve got to who my ID which says I’m of age and I can purchase it.
DOUG McVAY: Not everyone who supports legalization liked I-502 and that’s still the case up in Washington.
JEFF STEINBORN: I’m Jeff Steinborn. I’m a local attorney and I’m on NORML’s Board of Directors and the NORML Legal Committee.
First I have to give the disclaimer my opinion on this is definitely not the opinion of NORML or NORML’s Board of Directors. It’s my own personal opinion.
We got 502 which is a law that was written to pass not to work and it’s not working. It’s probably not going to work. There’s still no legal pot in Washington anywhere despite the fact that it probably couldn’t be more available on the black market it you dropped it out of an airplane – lots of pot around.
502 hasn’t got us anywhere. Will it get us somewhere? Who knows? I don’t predict a rush of people signing up to get a license to sell pot at 500 bucks an ounce when you go out and buy it at 150 bucks an ounce all day long in Seattle and most of Washington.
Don’t know if it’s going to work or not.
What is working despite predictions to the contrary is that the police have now been taught how to manufacture and charge green DUIs (marijuana DUIs). They’ve been trained in what are supposedly the DRE, Drug Recognition Expert’s technology which is basically voodoo science and they been alerted to look out for green DUIs and I think there’s going to be a lot more of them. So that’s kind of the biggest hangover from 502.
Around the world, around the country it’s a big deal that Washington legalized pot but when you get up close and look at you realize we really haven’t legalized anything. We just have a new approach to prohibition.
DOUG McVAY: Hempfest is about cannabis and all its uses – even hemp. Here’s Adam Eidenger of Dr. Bronners Magic Soaps talking about hemp and the work they’ve been doing.
ADAM EIDENGER: Does everybody know about a group called Vote Hemp? This is a group that’s been working since 2000 to re-commercialize industrial hemp in the United States.
I was working for Dr. Bronners but also volunteering as the communications director for Vote Hemp for many years. We had to fight just to preserve the food market in the United States.
A lot of people don’t realize that in 2001 right after Sept. 11t h the federal government tried to ban the foods and hemp cosmetics which would have banned our soaps. How ridiculous is this? This is omega-3 rich oil. It can be used in a lot of products and it was being banned supposedly because it was a drug and it wasn’t. It was not scientifically based.
Dr. Bronners and the Hemp Industry Association came together and sued the federal government and we won and we beat the DEA in 2004. Ever since there’s been an explosion of hemp food products in the marketplace. Now hemp food is probably the largest part of the hemp economy although you have other industries like fiber and insulated concrete. These are all really great things.
In 2007 I was given permission to take some time off of Dr. Bronners to open up a hemp store in the nation’s capital because there was no hemp store in the nation’s capital. There were no head shops in the nation’s capital.
This was a place that was not cannabis friendly. We felt we were taking a risk just opening a hemp store. We were open for almost 5 years before we were raided and closed for sale of drug paraphernalia.
We were not actually convicted of anything. We were strong armed and forced out of business. We only sold pipes to people who expressed that they were for tobacco use. If you came in and said that you were going to use it for medical marijuana we would not sell it to you. We had to be that way just to keep this thing open.
Despite all that it was the cultural center of the cannabis community for a number of years. There was no other place like it. If you wanted to find out what was going on with maybe the medical initiative that we passed in 1998 is going to finally be implemented. That discussion was taking place in this store.
The police didn’t like it, of course. They targeted it and they ran us out of business.
I want to point out a couple things. The federal government is totally out of step with the people of this country at this point. We know it and all the cannabis consumers around the world know it. The people in Washington, D.C. know it.
There’s 600,000 of us who are residents of the nation’s capital. We don’t have senators. We don’t have a congressman. We have a non-voting delegate in congress. Eleanor Norton is her name.
Meanwhile we have the highest per capita arrest rate for marijuana in the world – not just America but in the world. People focused on New York a couple years ago – D.C. is worse.
This is a majority black city, majority minority city – no coincidence there. Can anyone guess what the arrest rate there is? Annually your chances of being arrested for marijuana in D.C. are greater than 1 in 100. That’s 100 of 800 people every year is arrested for marijuana in the city.
Last year alone the combined total from all agencies was over 700,000 marijuana arrests in the city. These are for simple possession. These are small possession amounts.
While on one hand I started this discussion with hemp I want to point out that hemp is illegal because of the marijuana laws and until scheduling is changed hemp will not really be commercially viable in this country.
We do have hemp farming now in Colorado that’s taking place and there’s hemp farming in other states sort of secretly. These are non-drug varieties of industrial hemp.
When it comes down to it it’s never going to be commercially viable until federal scheduling changes so just like the folks who are suffering in the medical community people are also saying this should be commercially available for everyone. There’s also the industrial hemp community.
There are so many environmental benefits. We could be using it for paper. We could be using it for fuel.
I think my time is up so I’m just going be available for anyone one who wants to talk to me further.
I think it’s important to remember that the drug war is not over. People out west have a much better situation than people back east right now.
This is my eighth year attending Hempfest. It is the best hempfest in the world. I think it’s a great place for the global cannabis community to come together. I hope you guys keep rocking it every year. Thank you.
DOUG McVAY: This is Doug McVay. You’re listening to Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network.
There were some speakers this year that I would have loved to include in this broadcast but unfortunately their speeches would have sounded a lot like this:
When you are impassioned and spirited and speaking at a festival it’s easy to forget about things like making a speech family and broadcast friendly. Fortunately there were others who were a little more careful.
Ed Forchien, the NJ Weedman, talked about his court case and successful jury nullification from the Sealy Stage during Hempfest.
ED FORCHIEN: I got to tell you I came all the way from New Jersey to come here because I couldn’t believe that it’s legal in Washington now. I wanted to congratulate you people myself.
Two states have done it and I’m happy to be here and I feel free which is incredible because 10 months ago I went on trial in New Jersey and I shouldn’t be here because I was guilty.
I actually did have one pound of marijuana in New Jersey and I got caught with it. I knew something called jury nullification. I don’t have long up here but I want to tell you about jury nullification. Who here knows about jury nullification by hands?
That many...that’s great. The concept of jury nullification goes back to old English common law. Officially it comes out of a Will Penn case. What it really says is a jury can do whatever it wants. A jury can say not guilty even in the face of all the evidence showing you are guilty.
A jury is allowed to utilize its conscience to come to a decision that’s relevant to their conscience at the time.
We all now right now more than 50% of Americans believe that marijuana should be legal. I’d say like 95% here. No, it should be 100% here.
How come if over 50% of Americans believe that marijuana should be legal that doesn’t translate into your jury? Shouldn’t 50% of all juries, then, believe that marijuana should be legal?
I had a court case in New Jersey and that’s what I felt. I felt that no matter what the government said there should be a pothead on the jury. There should be somebody that felt that the marijuana laws were wrong.
I simply said, “Yep, I was guilty but I have these certain reasons why. The state of New Jersey’s laws are wrong not me.”
That was my argument to my jury – that the laws were wrong, not me. I gave my own opening statement. In my opening statement I admitted that that was my marijuana and, “I smoked a joint this morning. At lunch time I’m going to smoke a joint. I notice there’s some cigarette smokers on my jury. You cigarette smokers have to smoke in front of the courthouse. I got to go all the way across the parking lot and hide from the sheriffs to smoke but I’m going to do it at lunchtime too because the law is wrong.”
I had nods and shakes right then and there. I knew I had a hung jury at that point. Then I told them, “I’m going to smoke a joint tonight when I get home and probably eat a brownie or two before I go to bed.”
The only exhibits I brought to my trial were a carton of cigarettes and a pack of cigarettes, a five gallon bag of sugar and a couple little condiment bags of sugar, one gallon of milk and a pint of milk.
I explained to the jury that a lot of people go to the convenience store every morning and they buy one pack of cigarettes. Other people buy a carton of cigarettes – lasts them a couple weeks. Same thing with sugar. Believe it or not there are people that go to the Burger King every day and steal the sugar instead of just buying a big thing of sugar.
So I said, “Yeah, I did get caught with weed. What do you think I’m going to get caught with a little bag of marijuana? A little 5 dollar bag? A dime bag? No, I’m the New Jersey Weedman. I got caught with a pound. I buy in bulk but it’s just mine. I’m not distributing it. The law is wrong.”
Believe it or not...I thought I was going to get a hung jury. I thought I’d get 2 or 3, maybe 4 or 5 but guilty as hell I got 12 jurors to say not guilty.
The only reason why I’m standing here is because I convinced a jury that they could utilize their power of a jury. October the 10t h I should have been found guilty and should have been in jail and 10 months into it. But, instead, I got a chance to inform the jury of their rights and their powers and their abilities.
I’m hoping everyone here just Googles jury nullification on your phone. Google it. Tell other people about it because even though it’s legal here the feds can still bust you. You can still end up in trial. I don’t know all the rules here but I know it’s not 100% legal yet. There are still people being prosecuted.
There’s a case out of Bellingham, Washington right now – the Bellingham Three. The Bellingham Three are going on trial right here in Washington State sometime this Fall. They intend to do a similar defense. They are going to argue that the law is wrong and look where you’re at – you’re in Washington. Do you think any jury would really find anybody guilty of marijuana here in Washington? I don’t think so.
DOUG McVAY: One of my favorite people, the activist and comedian Ngaio Bealum, performed a set at the Hemposium Stage. Here’s a quick sample.
NGAIO BEALUM: There are things I don’t want to do. I don’t like to wash dishes but I don’t mind getting high and washing dishes.
It takes an extra hour...because I have to make a playlist. When I wash the dishes the playlist is off the hook, though. It’s got different songs depending on how many dishes, what kind of dishes.
I just love it. I’m so proud for this being one of the first states to legalize weed. That’s awesome.
I live in California and I can’t wait until we legalize weed. I would like to open up a “bud and breakfast.” Would you come see me at the “Wakin’ Bakin’”?
It would be like, “Good morning...Good afternoon.” Because we’re not going to get up that early, you understand? Matter of fact I’m going to put a chocolate under your pillow that’s going to knock you out. You’re going to wake up refreshed, wander into the kitchen, “Hey, you’re just in time for lunch.”
I love marijuana, by the way. Did I mention that? I fell hard for weed.
We tried to legalize weed in California in 2010. We tried. I went hard on that. I went hard on that when that campaign was out. I went door to door in my neighborhoods like a weed witness. “I have some good news about weed. Can I share it with you? Good morning, I’d like to talk with you about my personal relationship with marijuana. Do you have a few minutes? Have you accepted weed in your life? I have some papers here...somewhere....I forgot where I put them. It happens.”
[off stage interview]
You know, it hasn’t changed much. It’s still a lot of people having a good time. It’s very peaceful, good speakers, great bands.
One of the things I like about Hempfest is the variety of music - there’s hip-hop, there’s electronic dance, there’s a whole stage dedicated to metal since we’re in Seattle. It’s an amazing event. 100,000 people come through almost every day. There’s no fights. There’s no trouble and there’s no drama and that’s part of the social...I’m starting to ramble because maybe I’ve had a few dabs.
That’s one of the things that people forget about the marijuana experience more than just getting high there’s a social reason. You stand in a circle when you smoke weed. It’s like a conference of equals. Everybody is hanging out together. It’s completely different than drinking or doing heroin (not that I’ve ever done heroin) but I would imagine you don’t really sit in a circle...or maybe you do – I don’t know.
My point is weed is very social and it just keeps people chill. Everybody has a wonderful time and we should do this everywhere in the country constantly.
Keep fighting, Texas! Let it start in Austin and go to Houston. Dean Becker’s a beast.
That’s the thing everybody has just got to talk about it. You see more and more states coming around to it. There’s 20 states, I think, now that have medical marijuana laws and a bunch more states and cities have decriminalized.
That’s the thing. It starts at the local level. Get an lowest priority ordinance passed in your town. From there it grows to the county and then to the state. One of the troubles we have here in the hemp movement is everybody wants something to happen all of the sudden like they’re going to wave a magic wand and it’s all going to be different. It’s step by step. It’s incremental. You got to go hard. It’s a big tree – we got a small hatchet.
DOUG McVAY: This is Doug McVay. You’re listening to Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network.
Mickey Marten is a medical marijuana activist from the California Bay Area. I caught up with him at Ed Rosenthal’s Move It Hempfest to see what he had to say.
MICKEY MARTEN: I’m Mickey Marten. I’m the author of Medical Marijuana 101. I used to run a company called Medicinal Edibles. We were raided in 2007 by the federal government.
I currently do consulting working with people developing businesses in the industry including dispensaries, grow projects, edible manufacturing and stuff like that.
It’s amazing to see how far the situation has come and evolved. There’s still a lot of work to do in California just because of the massive size of the state. There’s been amazing work done. It started there and it has evolved and spilled over into other states.
We’re seeing states like Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Maine and other places actually implementing dispensary policies. Dispensary is a term that was brought about by our community. A lot of things that are now mainstream lingo...even the term medical marijuana was something a lot of people didn’t know 20 years ago and now it’s part of everyday life.
It’s been heartening to see, to see people come around and see some of the research that is getting done now and to people who are actually having success with cancer – not even just treating but actually curing parts of cancer. It’s been a very amazing journey.
We developed an edibles company in the early 2000s. We were one of the first people to put forth packaging and labeling that included prominent warnings, directions for use and other things like that. We brought about professionalism to the industry that is now standard and demanded.
DOUG McVAY: More than anything Hempfest, to me, resembles a state fair. I’m from Iowa so growing up I went to the Iowa State Fair countless times, spent more money on the midway than I’d care to remember. Hempfest brings back some of those memories – the sights, the sounds, the smells.
Walking along you get the occasional whiff of cannabis, incense, patchouli but you’re just about as likely to smell popcorn and donuts. Oh those donuts.....ah, but I digress.
Here’s a short audio collage...
[various fair type sounds mostly describing delicious sounding foods]
DOUG McVAY: This is Doug McVay. You’re listening to Century of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network.
Steve DeAngelo is the man behind Harborside Health Center in Oakland. He’s an activist of longstanding and, full disclosure, a former housemate of mine. We stayed in a place called the “nuthouse” back in 1989.
Steve spoke on the Hemposium Stage.
STEVE DeANGELO: There’s still a lot of work in front of us, no doubt. Now that we have been entrusted by the voters we need to prove that we are worthy of that trust.
There’s still a huge amount of stigma and shame and ignorance that surrounds this plant. It’s now our job to start reintroducing cannabis to the rest of our communities, to the rest of our fellow citizens who have been affected by that ignorance.
It’s time to start providing an example of a responsible, legally-compliant cannabis industry. That probably is the single most effective thing that we’re going to be able to do to get the work done everywhere else.
Of course Washington is just a beginning. We still have 48 states to go in this country and many other nations around the world. The eyes of the whole world will be on us – will be on Washington – to see how this law unfolds, to see whether it provides a benefit not just to people who use cannabis, not just to people who are rely on cannabis for medicine but a benefit to the entire community.
That’s our task now – to create a legal cannabis industry, a legal cannabis community that does return benefits to the entire community. That’s the single most potent thing that we can do to help our brothers and sisters that are in prison, to help all the people who are suffering without medicine, people who are dying and all of their families and everybody else that is still affected by this work.
At Harborside we have been fighting pretty vigorously for the past few years. The government has been trying to do everything possible to close us down that doesn’t involve putting us in front of a jury because they know they would lose if they did that.
They gave us a huge back tax bill. They have denied us bank accounts at the same time they’ve been sending IRS agents to audit us and demanding complete financial records. We’ve had our bank accounts closed by about 6 different banks because of pressure from the Treasury Department.
Their latest trick was to try to seize the properties that we are located in and do business in but they didn’t really do their homework when they decided to target Harborside. They didn’t know our track record. They didn’t know that we have an incredible, determined and brilliant attorney named Henry Wykowski who is not going to let that happen.
Henry has scored amazing victories over the course of the last couple years both in state court and in federal court. The upshot of those victories is that all the federal attempts to close us down (short of putting us on trial) have failed. We have fought them into a corner. We have backed them up to a standstill. Harborside is going to be around a long, long, long time after Melinda Haag and the other drug warriors are history.
DOUG McVAY: This is Doug McVay. Thank you all for listening. Please tune in again next week. Be sure to find us on the web at http://www.drugtruth.net
Full downloads of all of our shows are available for you. Please share them on Facebook, on Twitter, on any of your social media sites.
DEAN BECKER: Oh, hell yes. What can I say but my hat is off to you Senor Douglas McVay of Common Sense for Drug Policy, Drug War Facts.
Doug you kind of MP-R’d it and I’m all for it. People should get a little bit of a change here on the Drug Truth Network.
I want to thank all of you for listening. I want to encourage you to do your part, to realize this drug war has no basis in reality. It’s a fraud, a sham, scam, flim-flam.
Prohibido istac evilesco!
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 the Pacifica Studios of KPFT, Houston.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org