During the time that Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo were out gathering signatures proponents of marijuana legalization were visiting with legislators to get them to pass legislation to raise the signature threshold from 5% of the registered voters to 15%. The legislation passed and was signed into law in June of this year just before signatures were turned in for the ballot question. When Citizens for a Healthy Pueblo turned in their signatures the marijuana industry sent their lawyers to say that the law should be retroactive to include this petition being turned in. Well it got sent to the courts to have a judge decide on the case. The judge came back and ruled in favor of the initiative and said that they did not have to get 15% since the threshold was changed after signature gathering started.
A few days before the judge came back on the Pueblo case news broke of the industry buying off the petition companies and making petitioners sign a no compete clause. You can read that story here.
In 2013, well before anyone knew that Measure 91 was coming, a group of Oregon Preventionist started planning a 13 city tour educate the public on the dangers of marijuana use. The group had planned to have Kevin Sabet - Co-founder and President of Smart Approaches to Marijuana (SAM) - speak on their tour. Sabet worked in drug policy under three Presidents until stepping away in 2011 during Obama's second term.
The tour kicked off in early 2014 right around the time that Measure 91 was gathering signatures and had gotten the attention of Oregon Congressman Earl Blumenauer. Blumenauer went to the states attorney to file a complaint against this group for campaigning against Measure 91 before it was legal to campaign against the measure because of the inclusion of Sabet. The tour had only competed 6 stops before they had to cut it short due to the legal pressure being put on by Rep. Blumenauer. One person associated with the tour told me that Rep. Blumenauer and another person named Russ Belville showed up at a few of the stops and had begun harassing members of this group. To give you a picture of how disturbing all of this was to the group of Preventionists the person telling me this story was literally fighting back tears because of how quick and how hard Rep. Blumenauer and Belville came at them.
The people associated with the group were all members of organizations who were 501 (c)(3) nonprofits so with the pressure they worried about being accused of actively opposing a ballot initiative and turned to SAMHSA for clarification on the issue. Unfortunately the answer came to late. On September 30th SAMHSA made a statement that they were ok in doing what they were doing. But by this time Measure 91 was in full swing and the tour 6 stops in had been suspended permanently. This was a very emotional time for all of the Preventionists involved in the tour. All they wanted to do was their job in teaching the dangers of a drug to those in these communities. But their job interfered with a ballot measure that was coming up and the marijuana industry and their supporters couldn't afford to have them running around losing votes for marijuana legalization.
Earlier this year a few hours after news of the shooting at the Orlando night club Earl Blumenauer tweeted "Words cannot express my sorrow. Disgusted by this horrific act on the LGBT community & cowardice of those who won't pass sensible gun laws". Just like a politician to make a political statement after tragedy. Seeing this tweet the - now former Director of the Oregon Chapter to SAM - Randy Philbrick followed with a response "Would that be the same cowardice as those who refuse to stand up to the marijuana industry?", which was followed by "You can't support 1 threat to public health/public safety and condemn another. You have failed this state". And that's where the drama ensued. After a purely propaganda reply by the Congressman about zero deaths per year from marijuana came a tweet from Russ Bellville "Don't sully yourself with these prohibitionists. Let me handle them". And then this happened.
When asked about the tweets Randy said that he intended on the tweets being on his personal account and by the time he realized that it was on the SAM Oregon account it was too late. He also said that he was not comparing the Orlando shooting to legal marijuana, he was addressing the last part of the Congressman's tweet. Russ Belville - who likes to write pro marijuana propaganda for High Times and also hosts a pro marijuana internet radio show - had done what he does best and spun a legitimate question into something it wasn't. At first it wasn't that bad because it was only stoners getting all huffy because they cling to every word that Belville says, truth or not. Then Randy got a call from the President and Co-Founder of SAM Kevin Sabet who said that this had blown up way bigger than the usual High Times readers and that he was getting calls from Oregon to Washington DC because it had made a few other media outlets. People were upset because of the accusations. The thing is, by this time Randy and Belville had been dropped for the story line and had been replaced by Kevin Sabet and Patrick Kennedy - Also a Co-Founder of SAM. After a week of back and forth phone calls between him and Sabet, Randy had made a decision that had been coming for a while for other reason. In an email Randy announced his stepping as the Oregon affiliate to SAM. Randy had planned to step down prior to this whole fiasco anyway because of SAM changing their affiliate structure, which SAM Oregon didn't qualify for at the time. Randy also said that the Congressman had brought his lawyers into the fold. Really Congressman? You want to threaten legal action against someone for asking you a question? How do you think that would have gone in the media? CONGRESSMAN SUES CONSTITUENT FOR ASKING A QUESTION.....can we say first amendment? If you want to sue anybody you should sue Russ Bellville for writing such an inflammatory story and turning a nothing into something.
Now lets take a look at these tweets that were supposedly comparing marijuana to the Orlando Shootings. We'll take out the mention of the shooting in Blumenauer's tweet and now you have:
"cowardice of those who won't pass sensible gun laws".
Ok, so now this is just a political statement. Now lets add the tweets by Randy
"Would that be the same cowardice as those who refuse to stand up to the marijuana industry?"
"You can't support 1 threat to public health/public safety and condemn another. You have failed this state"
But wait, Randy's statements still makes sense. If he had been trying to compare the Orlando shootings to marijuana legalization don't you think that his response would not have made any or very little sense? Of course it still makes sense. Anyone with common sense reading that tweet exchange would have known that Randy was addressing the last part of the Congressman's tweet. Gun violence is a threat to public safety and so is marijuana legalization when you look at the stats coming out of legal states.
If you try to get in the way of the marijuana industry or their supporters they will try and cut you down at all costs. These are just a few examples of what they are capable of doing. They will slander you and do everything they can to try and ruin your credibility and even your character. These people are vile and have no remorse for their actions what so ever and if they are unsuccessful in their bully tactics they will buy their way into legislation and beat you that way. This is just a few incidents in couple states. There will be more of these to share and we will share them as we get them. I've already heard of a few more incidents including one in Massachusetts and another in Alabama.