Posts Tagged ‘portland’
by Susan Nielsen, The Oregonian
Something strange happened on the way to the May primary. Ellen Rosenblum became the darling of the marijuana legalization community, and Dwight Holton became the enemy.
The differences between the two candidates for Oregon attorney general aren’t nearly that stark. Yet the heat around this issue shows how sensitive it is to talk about pot in this state — even to acknowledge the glaring problems with existing marijuana laws.
Rosenblum and Holton are both Democrats, former federal prosecutors and on record as supporting the intent of Oregon’s voter-approved medical marijuana law. Both say they have reason to believe marijuana can have medical value for people in pain. And both think Oregon’s law could be better.
Yet Holton worked recently as acting U.S. attorney for Oregon, presiding during a period of toughening federal enforcement, including raids on so-called “monster grows” in southern Oregon and crackdowns on illegal dispensaries in the Portland area. In 2010, he sent a stern letter to Reed College about the dangers of illegal drug use, including recreational marijuana consumption, after two students died of heroin overdoses.
Because of his recent role, Holton was already viewed with suspicion among marijuana activists when he referred, during a recent debate in Eugene, to Oregon’s medical marijuana laws as a “train wreck.” Now there are several homely Web pages devoted to his defeat, including the “Not Dwight Holton for Attorney General” Facebook page with 178 “likes” and counting.
Meanwhile, Rosenblum is seen posing with a prominent marijuana activist in a photo posted on The Weed Blog — the same blog that breathlessly describes Holton as “one of the most raging anti-medical marijuana crusaders on the planet.” The former court of appeals judge further promises on her campaign site to “make marijuana enforcement a low priority.” Her full pledgeon marijuana is longer than her pledge on every other issue, including fraud and child endangerment.
Holton, by contrast, says, “I don’t think it makes sense to pander to the marijuana legalization crowd.”
So yes, the two candidates show real differences of both style and substance on marijuana. Still, I’m not convinced their approaches as attorney general would wildly diverge. Holton says he would “happily enforce and uphold the state law,” which he says voters approved for compassionate reasons. Rosenblum admits the law’s rollout has been a bumpy ride. In separate interviews late last week, both said the law could use tweaking to clear up the gray areas and improve patient access to marijuana without inviting new problems.
In true Oregon fashion, both appear more willing to join a conversation than lead a crusade. Though they dutifully trade jabs, they mostly seem eager to avoid a no-win bickerfest about pot.
I don’t blame either candidate for wanting to change the subject. Drug policy is extremely complex and ripe for misunderstandings. Marijuana laws aren’t easily discussed during election season, when most every conversation is a variation on, “Hey! Are you for it or against it?”
I can also understand why the next attorney general might prefer to take a supporting role on medical marijuana, given the divided public opinion on dispensaries and full legalization.Proposing changes to the state’s medical marijuana law is a thankless job, as many lawmakers have learned.
Still, I’d love to see the next attorney general lead the public debate on marijuana’s next phase instead of follow it. It’s tricky: Oregon’s medical marijuana law will remain a mess until Congress re-classifies marijuana as a drug that can be prescribed, like morphine, instead of a dangerous street drug like heroin. But at the least, the next AG could be more vocal about the current law’s triple role as an aid for sick people AND a form of backdoor legalization for recreational pot smokers AND a contributor to the global drug trade.
If voters want those things, fine. Oregon will deal with it. But we could all stand to drop the euphemisms and aim for a more honest approach.
The alternative is for Oregon to keep staggering along like a mini-California: reacting to the latest initiative, inviting public backlashes and breeding more cynicism about the rule of law.
Now that would be a real train wreck.
– Associate editor Susan Nielsen, The Oregonian
by Nigel Duara, Associated Press
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Getting to where he is now required Paul Stanford to step on some toes and edge out some competitors. This is where Stanford is distinguished from others in the medical marijuana game.
He regards it as a business.
Other medical marijuana providers are competitors.
Marijuana cards are his supply, and he is operating in a nearly free market system.
But the people behind the medical marijuana movement don’t see it as a business. It’s medicine, they say, and Stanford is abusing the product.
Sandee Burbank, executive director of the pro-medical marijuana group Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse and one of the original supporters of the medical marijuana law, says Stanford’s business defies the medicinal intent of the law and is concerned less with getting sick people their medicine than getting people who want weed their drug.
“This guy’s been operating (as a commercial enterprise) for two or three decades,” said Burbank. “I do know from patients that have come to us, they were delighted to have the extra information we gave them, which they obviously had not learned at (Stanford’s foundation).”
Stanford dismisses Burbank as a scorned competitor who couldn’t keep up —Stanford’s organization grew quickly, a startup business in a field of untapped resources, while Burbank’s patient-focused practice has remained more akin to a clinic.
Stanford also says she owes him a debt of less than $1,000 that he said he’s tried to collect from her for years. Stanford said Burbank demanded money for a media campaign and then was unwilling to repay it; Burbank denies it.
Stanford expanded his marijuana-certification empire beyond Oregon’s borders, to Michigan, Montana, Colorado. Each time a state Legislature approves medical marijuana, it’s a safe bet that Stanford will be there.
Bruce McKinney, an investor and former Microsoft programmer, would warn them to be wary. McKinney made millions in the Seattle tech market and began to donate some of it to marijuana activists. One of them was a bright upstart named Paul Stanford.
Based on a friend’s referral and an article in a Seattle newspaper, McKinney gave Stanford a loan in 1999.
Then, he gave him another one.
By 2000, McKinney realized Stanford wasn’t planning to pay him back.
What followed was a series of suits for more than $38,000. McKinney tried to seize Stanford’s house, his car — anything — to no avail. He has now resigned to the fact that he’ll likely never see the money.
“Paul doesn’t cheat his enemies,” McKinney said in an email. “He cheats his friends.”
Stanford replies that McKinney, and indeed almost anyone who has challenged him in court, is envious of his success and bitter about missing the chance to join him. He says he couldn’t afford to pay a lawyer to contest the suits and still can’t afford to pay McKinney back.
The IRS has no fewer than three judgments against Stanford, the largest of which was for $200,751 on Feb. 23, 2009. Stanford refused to comment on the judgment other than to say that he’s on a payment plan.
The state of Oregon, meanwhile, has filed more than $33,000 in tax liens against him, which Stanford said he’s close to paying back.
That does not mean he is repentant. In fact, he blames what he says is a campaign against him that originates in the state’s highest offices.
Let him riff, and he’ll explain: The governor thinks he’s a threat to force the legalization of marijuana in the state. Aided by the Oregon attorney general and the White House Office of Drug Control Policy, the state is trying to put him out of business and in prison.
None of this can be substantiated, of course. But the persecution narrative plays well with the medical marijuana crowd and gives his celebrity a veneer of martyrdom.
Stanford thinks the measure of celebrity he enjoys in the Portland area is a major reason behind his prosecution. He’s been featured weekly on a marijuana-friendly cable access show since 1996, he’s got his famous pothead friends and he’s a go-to quote for newspapers writing about medical marijuana.
Stanford says medicinal use isn’t his only interest in marijuana and hemp cultivation. Stanford thinks hemp seed oil can power our cars and hemp paper can save whole forests.
For now, most of his publicity comes from his push for legalization. On July 13, an $11,000 donation was delivered to the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act 2012 coffers.
The source? Stanford himself, from a separate campaign account.
Unfortunately, the check bounced.
“Cash-flow difficulty,” he said.
“So far, I have made over 98 percent of money raised and spent” in support of the initiative, he said. “I’m a believer. I am trying to get others to donate, too.”
It would seem that the legalization of marijuana in Oregon would kill Stanford’s business.
But a grow house in southeast Portland, providing for many patients and owned by Stanford, tells a different story.
Inside are rows upon rows of towering marijuana plants, organized by strain, standing stock-still at attention like a well-trained rifle brigade. There’s White Widow, AK-47 and Strawberry Cough, all cultivated by Stanford’s expert hand, all ready for the possibility that marijuana is legalized in Oregon.
It’s all legal now, each set of plants dedicated to a person who is entitled to get it. And if Stanford, medical-marijuana activist, gets legal weed to pass at the ballot box, this grow house could be one of the epicenters of marijuana production in the city, and perhaps the state.
And Paul Stanford, as always, would stand at the head of the pack.
Starting early this morning, Canadian and American cities along the North American West Coast have been Occupying and closing down ports. The protests are said to span from Anchorage, Alaska down to San Diego, California.
This is the second time since the Occupy Wall Street Movement began that the Port of Oakland has been closed by Occupy protestors.
The Occupy Oakland camp is holding a General Assembly now at Frank Ogawa Plaza, better known among Occupiers as Oscar Grant Plaza, which will be followed by a march to the already closed Port of Oakland, the nation’s fifth largest.
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