Oregon: Marijuana Activists Make OCTA 2012 Official
By Bonnie King Salem-News.com/Special to Hemp News
(SALEM, Ore.) - Paul Stanford, Executive Director of the Hemp and Cannabis Foundation walked 2200 signatures in to the Oregon Secretary of State's office on January 4th, 2011, officially sponsoring OCTA 2012- the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act. It could prove to be a historic turning point for a state well known for its grass roots movements.
Next, the signatures will be verified, and as long as 1000 are from registered Oregon voters, the Office of the Secretary of State will certify a ballot title with the Attorney General, proposing a statutory initiative for the 2012 General Election.
"If all goes as expected, activists will hit the streets in March," said Stanford. "We need to turn in about 140,000 more signatures, or 90,000 registered Oregon voters' signatures, by July 2012 to qualify for the ballot in November 2012."
If the measure is passed by voters, OCTA 2012 will legalize the sale, possession and personal private cultivation of marijuana in the state of Oregon. People who want to cultivate and sell marijuana, or process commercial psychoactive cannabis, would be required to obtain a license from the state.
Adults could grow their own marijuana and the sale of all cannabis strains' seeds and starter plants would be legalized with no license, fee nor registration.
The profits from the sale of cannabis to adults is projected at hundreds of millions of dollars to add into Oregon's state general fund, as well as drug treatment and education; two percent of the profits from the sale of cannabis in adult-only stores will be set aside for two new state committees to promote Oregon industrial hemp biodiesel, fiber and food.
I spoke to Paul Stanford about the proposed Oregon ballot measure, addressing some fears and misnomers, and discussed in-depth his personal cannabis-driven journey of the last 30+ years.
BK: How do you think OCTA (Oregon Cannabis Tax Act) will change the dynamic here in Oregon overall?
PS: Regulating cannabis and restoring hemp for fuel, fiber and food will put Oregon on the cutting edge of new businesses and industries, creating tens of thousands of jobs. We will, eventually, change the whole economic system by returning local wealth and control. Marijuana produces more fiber, food and fuel than any other plant. Our farmers need this valuable crop.
BK: What is the most important thing for the general public to understand about OCTA?
PS: It will protect our communities and wipe out over 90 percent of drug crime and gangs, and allow authorities to concentrate on real crime.
People need to know that marijuana is safer than alcohol and if just 25 percent of people with alcohol problems use cannabis instead, we will save billions in health care, accidents and crime. We should stop driving our kids to drink and have a safer alternative.
BK: Will OCTA make access to marijuana easier for minors?
PS: No, kids are selling cannabis now. This will control this market and take it out of the hands of kids and substance abusers.
BK: Is it a step toward ending marijuana prohibition overall?
PS: Yes. This is a huge first step to ending global cannabis prohibition and restoring industrial hemp. In Malaysia, Indonesia and other countries, people are being sentenced to death and hung for small amounts of marijuana. Marijuana produces more fiber, food and fuel than any other plant. Prohibiting the plant that produces more fuel, fiber, food and medicine is evil.
BK: Will OCTA give the police/authorities any rights that they don't have now?
PS: No, except they will have the right to sleep more easily knowing they are no longer enforcing an unjust law.
BK: That’s a benefit that I bet law enforcement hasn’t fully realized yet! So what’s the big risk, do you think, since it’s been proven that there are no harmful effects to your health for using marijuana?
PS: Marijuana prohibition isn't about drugs or health either, it is about money and power, and the fact that marijuana produces more fuel, fiber, food and medicine than any other plant. We have to stop the lies about cannabis that cause so much suffering in the world!
BK: Paul, your personal battle with prohibition has been published different times, but it’s pretty clear that only part of the story is told. How’d this all get started?
PS: Let's go back for a moment. Please allow me to digress way back, in fact. Thirty-two years ago, in 1978, just a week after my 18th birthday, I attended a rally, a protest for marijuana, the White House smoke-in, in Washington DC, organized by the Yippies and Dana Beal.
Then, almost 30 years ago, from 1982-1984, I was the director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws state chapter in Washington state.
Twenty-eight years ago, back in 1982, while I was visiting Los Angeles, I first met Jack Herer and his partner, Captain Ed Adair. Later, I read about the wonders of industrial hemp in an article called the 'California Marijuana Initiative White Paper', written by Jack Herer, which was printed by Dana Beal and the Yippies in their newspaper called Overthrow.
On March 22nd, 1983, I was arrested in Washington state beside the Puget Sound at the gate of the Bangor Naval Submarine Base for blocking a train carrying hydrogen bomb warheads from the Pantex Corp. in Amarillo, Texas to the Trident Submarines and I was one of what was then called the Bangor 6.
In August 1984, I moved to Oregon to help the Oregon Marijuana Initiative, then, a couple of months later, Jack Herer moved from California to Oregon, also to help the OMI. Jack moved in to a house that was just a couple of blocks away from my house in Portland, Oregon. All these years later, I can admit that Jack and I both enjoyed growing some pretty good marijuana in our basements in Portland way back then.
In 1985, Jack Herer was working on his book, The Emperor Wears No Clothes, and he needed a place to work, away from his young children. This was in the day before computers and printers, back when cut and paste was done with scissors and glue and lots of stacks of paper. I did some research on Thomas Jefferson and George Washington and found quotes from our nation's founding fathers that were included in Jack's book, and, later, as the final chapter of Chris Conrad's first book, Hemp: Lifeline To The Future. Jack came and took over my house in 1985 and put together the first edition of The Emperor... right there in my living room. That and the rest is history.
BK: Did you see an immediate difference in cannabis advocates? There must have been a wave of people coming out of the cannabis closet!
PS: Absolutely, that catalyzed us all. Though I little realized it at the time, Jack's book would go on to motivate untold scores of people around the world to work for global cannabis freedom and to restore industrial hemp. Jack Herer, through the power of his personality, dedication and work for hemp & cannabis, endlessly proselytizing the benefits of cannabis hemp, brought the whole picture into focus for millions about hemp and cannabis. Now we know. Now we can see. Jack is gone now, but his legacy lives on.
BK: Very true, his legacy does live on, especially through those that carry on the message that hemp will save the planet. But over thirty years ago, you were already aware and active in terms of cannabis advocacy, which is pretty progressive for the time. What made you take up this fight for hemp and marijuana?
PS: Marijuana catalyzed me. Marijuana motivates me. I studied Chinese and went to school in China so I could import hemp and I started a hemp paper company called Tree Free EcoPaper. I started and continue to produce and host a television show called Cannabis Common Sense, and we have produced 550 episodes of Cannabis Common Sense TV shows since 1997. I also started and today, I run THCF, The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation.
Not only does THCF sponsor many events and organizations, from putting on our annual Hempstalk Festival and THCF is the presenting sponsor of the world's largest pro-cannabis protestival, the Seattle Hempfest for several years too, but, perhaps most importantly, THCF Medical Clinics have helped over 150,000 people across the USA become legal medical marijuana patients who can legally possess, use and grow their own medicine.
BK: Right, those hemp events are a great way to bring cool people together and share factual information at the same time. Education is key, of course. I hope the people that attend are interested in the movement, and not just the trendy clothes or specialty gifts.
PS: Yes, it goes much deeper than that. Cannabis hemp is deeper than its long tap root. Marijuana is deep in every sense of the word.
Cannabis hemp catalyzed civilization itself. Marijuana jump started human civilization. All archeologists agree that hemp was among the first crops purposely cultivated by humans, and it may be the very first.
Over 12,000 years ago, people began growing hemp and its cultivation spread from its indigenous home, high in the Himalayas of Tibet, Nepal, Afghanistan, Pakistan & Kashmir, to the opposite flanks of its natural home, to the cradles of agriculture itself, the first human settlements that began cultivating their own crops, to the Yellow River, or Huang He, valley in China and the Tigris/Euphrates River valley in Iraq.
Humans began planting marijuana so they could have their own stash, a supply of this sacred herb and its fiber, food and fuel. Marijuana could very well be the whole reason our ancestors gave up our hunter/gatherer way of life and began farming and agriculture, starting us down the road to civilization and knowledge.
BK: That’s more than ‘deep’, that’s almost spiritual. Hemp is an integral part of our history, but how does that play into the future?
PS: I believe that cannabis is the most sacred gift of the Creator to humanity, the holiest of the holy gifts from our Mother Earth. Every part of cannabis hemp is highly useful for a diverse multitude of our needs, and the needs of human civilizations. There is only one plant on this planet that is capable of taking care of most of human civilizations' needs. Marijuana will take care of most of our needs.
When we restore cannabis hemp to its rightful place, marijuana will produce a great deal of our fuel and energy, without toxic side effects, unlike these fossil fuels we rely on today. Marijuana seeds will produce a great deal of our food and wipe out world hunger. Marijuana stems will produce most of our fiber for clothing, paper and building materials, stopping deforestation and ending a great deal of our pollution.
BK: Jack’s book was 1000% in agreement with everything you are saying. The benefits are so far reaching. What about the oil?
PS: That's a multi-level question. Hemp seeds produce more and healthier oil and protein. Hemp protein and oil are rich in the essential fatty acids, or EFAs, that our brain and cardiovascular system need. Marijuana seeds make Omega 3, 6 & 9, in the perfect ratio for optimal human health. Hemp protein, from marijuana seeds, has all 8 amino acids, again, in just the right balance to meet humans' nutritional needs.
Then, when marijuana seed oil ages and goes rancid, it is no longer useful for food, but it is a productive source for biodiesel fuel. Did you know you can take the pure oil, cold pressed from marijuana seeds and it will run any diesel engine? You can.
Pure marijuana seed oil is not only healthy for us, it will run all diesel engines, with no conversion to the oil nor modern diesel engines. Hempseed oil, marijuana seed oil, will make just about everything that we make from petroleum today. The oil from marijuana seeds is diesel fuel and will make plastics, gasoline and everything else.
I truly believe this is the main reason marijuana is illegal today, so the petro-chemical companies don't have to compete with hemp fuel and can sell us capital intensive petrochemical poisons.
The War on Marijuana is not about drugs, it is about money and the continued centralization of political and economic control.
Hemp stalks produce two types of fiber, the bast fiber, or the outer bark, and the hurd fiber, or the inner woody core of the stalk. Per acre, hemp is the most productive fiber on earth, making 10 tons of bast fiber, for canvas, rope, lace and linen, and 25 tons of hurd fiber, for paper and building materials.
The US Department of Agriculture's own Bulletin No. 404 said that the waste product from making canvas, rope, lace and linen from cannabis hemp, this waste product, the hurd fiber, is more than 4 times more productive than trees for fiber production for paper and building materials. The USDA produced a movie during WWII called "Hemp for Victory" that promoted hemp farming for the war effort.
And that is just from the seeds and stems of marijuana, cannabis hemp. Forget what Cheech and Chong said on their first album about stems and seeds that you don't need. We need these stems and seeds! Our Mother Earth needs us to restore hemp.
BK: Beyond the industrial value of the hemp plant and all those stems and seeds... what about the medical side of cannabis? It’s all part of the same plant, but the blooms have special properties that go back 5,000 years or so.
PS: That’s right, the flowers. Hemp flowers, or buds, make human brain chemicals, or neurotransmitters, and medicines that help fight cancer, multiple sclerosis, neuro-degenerative diseases, and gastro-intestinal disorders; it relieves chronic pain, helps glaucoma, seizures and spasms, and restores homeostasis, or restores balance in our bodies. Marijuana increases longevity and using it as an edible food additive will make you live longer.
The flowers of hemp also make people laugh, feel good and relieve depression, post traumatic stress, anxiety and much more. Cannabis is truly a cure for many forms of cancer. It is the non-toxic miracle drug for an incredible array of physical and mental ailments, and, when we return cannabis hemp to its rightful place, for our planet's ailments too.
As my friend, Native American activist, poet, song writer and, in my humble opinion, a true American hero, John Trudell says, ‘hemp is Earth medicine’.
BK: A lot of people don’t consider that prohibition affects them, but in the big picture, it matters not whether someone even uses cannabis for their lives to be impacted. And the more you learn, the more frustrating it is that this failure of a law is allowed to continue. Why?
PS: The forces of ignorance, evil and darkness are afoot. The laws against marijuana are wrong. Marijuana prohibition is a conspiracy from the rulers of this world today, the very wealthy, the oligarchy, to keep the wealth in their hands. Petroleum is capital intensive, hemp is naturally decentralized. Very few people in this world have enough capital, enough money, to compete in the petrochemical industries.
You can buy 10 hemp seed presses for the price of one small car. It takes billions of dollars to build an oil refinery, and they are incredibly toxic.
Hemp will create untold multitudes of jobs and return economic control to the people. No more wars for petroleum when we start to use hemp again, instead. Hemp can lead the way to economic and ecological sustainability, and help save the remnants of our biosphere's precious heritage, the diversity of life that we should bequeath to future generations.
Cannabis freedom is dawning with votes and hard won freedoms across Western North America. California's Prop 19, both in 1972 and 2010, was a groundbreaking step to legalize possession & cultivation of a small amount of herb and allow California cities to legalize and regulate the newly legal sale of cannabis to adults, and has greatly advanced our cause and its debate. We must continue to expand upon this work with education and political and economic activism. Eventually, with persistence, truth and justice must and will prevail.
BK: Why is this common sense answer so difficult for people in power to accept?
PS: Freedom of consciousness and thought should be a fundamental liberty, yet this is what truly frightens those who favor the drug war. Cannabis is a powerful tool in exploring consciousness and reality, one that is healthy and safe for the vast majority. Those who would punish and imprison us for cannabis have been lied to and misled. Our task is to educate them with truth and love.
The key to so many problems in our world today is cannabis, which may be the ancient Tree of Life. If any plant on our planet is sacred and of spiritual significance, it is surely cannabis. Cannabis hemp will displace the petrochemical & pharmaceutical corporations that dominate our politics today, and hemp will decentralize wealth and influence at a time of growing technological advancement.
BK: What is your response to the cannabis prohibition-caused personal security issue that hundreds of thousands of Americans are facing, even today?
PS: Stop the drug war before they kick in your door! We must stand together for what is right. This is what I ask:
For those facing execution for anti-cannabis laws in Malaysia and elsewhere, work for global cannabis freedom. For those languishing in jails and prisons for anti-cannabis laws everywhere, like Roger Christie, Marc Emery, Eddy Lepp and untold hundreds of thousands more every year, work for global cannabis freedom.
For our forests, the web of life and our Mother Earth, which suffers from extraction of her resources and poisoning of our environment, work for global cannabis freedom. For economic and political justice, work for global cannabis freedom. For our brothers and sisters and all that have fallen along the way, like Jack Herer, Dr. Tod Mikuriya and so many others, work for global cannabis freedom.
With the exponential growth in technology and artificial intelligence, establishing and protecting each natural individual’s right to privacy and freedom of consciousness are critical for humanity's future. Please, work for compassion and evolution to a more just and free future for our biosphere and for the diversity of life and culture.
BK: 'Humanity’s future'. That’s something to pay a lot more attention to than we have, that’s for sure. Kudos to all the cannabis freedom fighters, past and present, including Dana Beal, who is facing new charges for cannabis, and Dr. Phil Leveque, whose license to practice medicine was his sacrifice for the cannabis cause. They join over 800,000 Americans who are jailed, imprisoned or sanctioned every year, while prohibition stays in force.
Here’s to a smarter, more enlightened, healthy and secure future for us all. Thanks to Paul Stanford for his straight-forward answers to some tough questions, and good luck to OCTA 2012.