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Sep-14-2008 01:43printcommentsVideo

HempStalk 2008 Gives Legalization Activists a Voice (VIDEO)

"Relax it, Tax it!" was the mantra heard throughout the 2-day festival.

NORML founder Keith Stroup
NORML founder Keith Stroup was on hand throughout HempStalk to help put to rest the untruths about marijuana use.
Photos by Austin King

(PORTLAND, Ore.) - Bringing Oregon's hemp movement to center stage, HempStalk 08 created an environment where rational discussion regarding Cannabis legalization was the norm.

Thousands converged on Portland's Eastbank Festival Plaza last weekend for the fourth annual HempStalk, learning about the benefits of hemp cultivation and to support legalization of Cannabis for all adults.

Paul Stanford of the The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF) is an organizer of the event. He introduced Dr. Phil Leveque as an integral force behind the success of medical marijuana in Oregon.

Leveque took the stage and addressed the enthusiastic crowd, "Good afternoon, you Potheads!", met with a resounding applause.

The emperor himself, renowned author of The Emperor Wears No Clothes, activist Jack Herer came to share his story and promote hemp products. Jack first presented his anti-prohibition research in the mid 1970's and has sold nearly a million books since then.

"I thought it would be a good time to introduce the world to all hemp products, at an event like this," Jack said.

To some this may seem like a lot of preaching to the choir, but this choir of young and old is A-typical, they are active, and they have their own voice.

Anthony Johnson of Voter Power said, "We're here registering voters and gathering signatures for our initiative, Initiative petition 28 that would legalize, license, and regulate marijuana dispensaries in the state of Oregon. Initiative 28 will provide safe access to patients through non-profit organizations and make millions of dollars for the state of Oregon."

Speaking throughout the 2-day event were many experts from all ends of the anti-prohibition movement.

"We have some educational panels, we have one on industrial hemp, the legal use of marijuana, any questions people may have, we've got some attorneys up there that will be answering those," explained Madeline Martinez, president of Oregon NORML. "We also have a panel on spirituality, which for a lot of us, Cannabis is a spiritual experience. It is considered a sacrament in many ways, as Mexican and Native American, my ancestors used it spiritually as well as medicinally. It's ancient medicine for many of us."

Jack Herer shows off his hemp boxers

Lifelong advocates like Keith Stroup, founder of NORML (National Organization for Reformation of Marijuana Laws) says the propaganda is all hype.

"You cannot die from an overdose of marijuana," Stroup says. "We once had a federal hearing when we were trying to get marijuana rescheduled under federal law. We had an expert come in and testify that in order to overdose on marijuana, you'd have to ingest 1600 pounds at one time. Now, I've got some friends who've tried, but no one's succeeded at doing that yet."

Changes in our laws and judicial system is understood to be essential for a healthier, more cohesive America.

"So the point is," Stroup continued, "My goodness, science, medicine, anybody with a rational mind would say, 'If people are going to use drugs, let's direct them to those that are the least harmful, not those that are the most harmful,' and our current policies do just the opposite. We're hung up over this- something that's leftover from the 60's, early 70's, where for a lot of older Americans when they think about marijuana they think of a young, long-haired anti-war demonstrator from the Vietnam war, burning his draft card and smoking a joint."

"Well that was never an accurate representation of the average marijuana smoker, but especially certainly is not today. As I say, marijuana smokers come in all shapes and sizes and political beliefs. The fact that someone smokes marijuana doesn't mean they're liberal or conservative, you can't tell. They come from all beliefs. So, it's time we got over our hang up with marijuana and start having a social policy that makes sense for the health of the country," said Stroup.

Oregon has long been known for it's progressive moves, but is is this movement making any ground?

"I think we're getting closer. It's not a sprint, it's almost a crawl," said Paul Loney, attorney. "It depends on what happens on the federal level, because feds can make life miserable here, if they want to."

Even Congress is getting into the swing, recently challenging the DEA's interference in medical marijuana states, of which there are now 12. The federal ban is in itself a contradiction as there is a federal medical marijuana program, but it's kept very quiet.

Interview with Dr. Leveque and Paul Loney

"Well it's tricky because they won't give any data on it," explains Chris Conrad, Editor/Publisher of West Coast Leaf.

"In fact in California when they passed the SB420, the legislature not the voter initiative, but the legislature passed the bill on it, they wanted to include in there that it was reasonable for a patient to have six pounds and 200 square feet of garden canopy, which is consistent with the federal program, however the federal government wouldn't verify the program existing, they wouldn't verify how much marijuana they gave, so the legislature then refused to use those numbers and that's how they came up with 8 ounces and six plants. They just made up a number because the government wouldn't back up its science."

"We felt that was wrong," Conrad said. "We think that it's a matter of public record, there are studies showing that information is true, it's been published in the New York Times and so forth. Why can't the legislature look at what everybody else knows? But the federal government once again was able to stop our state from doing the scientific thing just by pretending like it wasn't keeping track of its own science."

I asked Paul Stanford what hemp legalization would mean to Oregonians. "Well, for farmers, it would revolutionize agriculture," he said. "Because instead of buying petrochemicals, instead of buying fuel for their tractors, they can press their own fuel, and the bi-product is going to be food."

Dr. Leveque and Keith Stroup introduce me
to Oregon NORML President Madeline Martinez

"Hemp has been grown in Europe for about a thousand years, and literature says it can grow up to as far as the Arctic Circle," said Dr. Phil Leveque.

Sept 3rd, MSN Money said this about legalization, "Tax gains. Drug prices would have to fall sharply in order to squeeze out the black market. Still, Jeffrey Miron, a senior lecturer in economics for Harvard University, calculates the $10 billion-plus U.S. marijuana market could reap $6 billion in annual taxes."

They contend that "a new legal drug industry would create jobs, farm crops, retail outlets and a tiny notch up in gross domestic product as the black market money turned clean."

A 1994 study by the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, D.C., suggested 100,000 jobs and 60,000 retailers could emerge from a legal marijuana industry.

Savings on drug-related law enforcement -- FBI, police, courts and prisons -- of $2 billion to $10 billion a year if marijuana were legalized, based on various estimates, or up to $40 billion a year if all drugs were legalized, based on enforcement costs from the White House's Office of National Drug Control Policy.

Hemp products are some of the strongest and most beneficial on the planet Earth, and plenty of examples were on hand at Hempstalk to make that perfectly clear.

With a diverse array of entertainment including The State of Jefferson, Los Marijuanos, Folk Yuke, John Trudell and more, there was an enthusiasm in the air that comes from being a part of something significant, common people making positive change.

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Marnell September 18, 2008 8:19 am (Pacific time)

There are many combat veterans with PTSD who have smoked grass on a regualar basis, some for decades, and have had no real improvement in their symptoms, many even committed suicide because they failed to get the help that is available via combat veterans who know what they're doing in helping our brothers. Many of the misinformed pot-smoking vets went on to harder drugs and their lives got much worse. It's unfortunate that some people keep putting out information based on extremely small sample sizes that just don't provide a proper evaluation.


Tommy Chong o September 17, 2008 1:42 pm (Pacific time)

We need events like this all over the country. Including the mid-west. Thanks to Medical Marijuana efforts of www.MPP.ORG


wolfie September 15, 2008 7:55 pm (Pacific time)

This was a great report but it left unmentioned the one truly major piece of hemp-history that happened at hempstalk this year. Jack Herer acknowledged, from the stage at Hempstalk that Bill Drake's book--The Cultivator's Handbook of Marijuana (written and published here in Oregon) is what got him interested, in 1973, in the industrial uses of cannabis.


Anonymous September 15, 2008 11:32 am (Pacific time)

chris, smallaxe...correct. Look up "hetanos". A herbal treatment that cures heroin addiction. 3 days, and even the cravings disappear. 100% effective in 10 days, 80% effective in 3 days. Including the after cravings. Completely safe herbal cure. The U.S. wont allow it here in the states. I wish these things were the most of our worries, but things in the U.S. are far much worse than most people know. I suggest infowars.com his radio show can be listened to on the internet for free.


smallaxe September 15, 2008 7:22 am (Pacific time)

they also dont want it legalized because they KNOW that it cures cancer and pretty much everything else. But dont take my word for it, Rick Simpson has proven it Watch his movie at www.phoenixtearsmovie.com


Chris September 15, 2008 6:13 am (Pacific time)

The government doesn't want hemp legal because you can run a car on it and you can build a house from it and 25 thousand other products. In other words they turn it into a drug issue (when we know it isn't) so they won't lose millions maybe even billions in tax dollars. The people who started the Federal Reserve and their friends made it illegal and they will keep it that way. Well until it’s too late anyway. They will be crashing the economy soon.


G/2-3; September 15, 2008 5:56 am (Pacific time)

Yes!, unabashedly Yes!


Jake September 14, 2008 7:09 pm (Pacific time)

Just keep on spreading the message and tell everybody about it and have them sign the petition as a valid person who wishes for a better future for everybody. I'm just so happy that I will be able to see Cannabis be free. This will restore our country's pride and glory. Most likely we will be exporting a lot more than importing if this act passes! More wealth to share across the state means better service to all Oregonians! More information at www.cannabistaxact.org www.cannabisnews.com www.weedtracker.com www.icmag.com


sts September 14, 2008 6:32 pm (Pacific time)

I agree with Tim. Thanks Bonnie.


Tim King September 14, 2008 5:52 am (Pacific time)

Bonnie, I am so proud of you for generating this report! Every soldier, Marine or airman that I discuss this subject with here in Iraq has been very accepting of the legalization program and they might some day need it if they are a veteran suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. What a wonderful and well informed piece, wish I had been there but covering the war here in Iraq is extremely important, I hope I can count on a date for next year's event?

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