Good morning. My name is Russ Belville. I am the host of a daily talk radio show called The Russ Belville Show that covers the issue of marijuana legalization. Our show live streams at 1pm Pacific from right here in Portland, Oregon, online at radicalruss.com.
We are gathered here beneath this latest example of anti-marijuana propaganda to tell Oregon and the world that we are ready to have a serious debate about marijuana.
That cannot happen so long as lies like this billboard are an acceptable part of the debate.
I’d like to thank the medical marijuana activists, Bettie Retro and Cyn Sativa, who objected to this billboard last night on the evening news. But here we are in 2012, in a state that has accepted medical use of marijuana for fourteen years, and these brave medical marijuana patients still feel the need to use pseudonyms to protect themselves.
The reason our medical marijuana patients are frightened is because we continue to maintain the insanity that some Oregonians are healthy enough to deserve being caged for their marijuana use. Scurrilous propaganda that demonizes the healthy users of marijuana, like this billboard, is what brought about the prohibition of marijuana in the first place.
We’ve come a long way since marijuana was first banned in the 1930′s with lies like “reefer makes darkies think their as good as white men”, that it causes “white women to seek sexual relationships with negroes” and other “degenerate races”, and that use of marijuana causes “insanity, criminality, and death.” But as this billboard attests, there are still those out there who willingly cloud the important debate over marijuana with “Reefer Madness”.
I’m here to tell you that marijuana smokers – or as I prefer, cannabis consumers – are here to stay and are productive, responsible, law-abiding Oregonians like me who simply prefer marijuana over martinis, Marlboros, or as my female friends can attest, Midol.
We hear a lot in the press about Oregon’s medical marijuana patient registration, how there are now over 50,000 patients. What we don’t hear very often is that they only represent one out of eleven of Oregon’s annual cannabis consumers. According to the federal government, there are now over 550,000 Adult Oregonians of voting age who will consume marijuana this year. That’s one in seven adult Oregonians. No matter where you go in Oregon – a restaurant, a club, a church, the grocery, the post office – you are in a room with somebody who uses cannabis this year.
I’m also here to tell you that none of Oregon’s half-million pot smokers looks like this girl on the billboard.
This billboard was funded by Protect Our Society. It scares voters into thinking there is some sort of “gateway effect” from marijuana that will lead inevitably to meth, heroin, or whatever drug we are to assume leads to this girl’s appearance. Folks, there are 103.5 million Americans of voting age who have tried marijuana and there are only 350,000 active heroin abusers. Sure, a heroin user might have started on marijuana, just like the Hell’s Angels probably started on tricycles. That doesn’t mean riding a tricycle turns you into a Hell’s Angel.
Protect Our Society is brought to you by people with a financial interest in maintaining marijuana prohibition. Calvina Fay, who is the registrant for their website, used to be the head of the Drug Free America Foundation, which evolved from a group called Straight, Inc. This group maintained drug rehab programs that physically and sexually abused teenagers, holding them in confinement for months at a time and subjecting them to brainwashing techniques, that eventually led to successful lawsuits for unlawful imprisonment and assault.
Oregonians have put an initiative on the ballot, Measure 80, that would finally end the madness of trying to sort out who is sick enough to use marijuana medically and who is healthy enough to put in a cage for smoking pot. We could reap millions in tax revenue, create hundreds of new jobs, and redirect our limited police resources to catching the guys who cooked and sold the meth to the girl on the billboard.
But so long as our opponents continue to return to long-debunked lies about marijuana that fly in the face of all logic, reason, common sense, and peer-reviewed science, we can never have an honest debate on the issue. So long as we continue to allow marijuana prohibition in Oregon, 200 Oregonians will be arrested for marijuana every month, despite our medical marijuana and decriminalization laws. So long as the prohibitionists are allowed to lie with impunity, the people can never learn that marijuana is safer than alcohol and countries that tolerate marijuana experience less hard drug abuse.
I’m Russ Belville, I’m one of over a half-million Oregon cannabis consumers and we will no longer accept being treated as criminals and second-class citizens. We applaud Clear Channel for removing these offensive billboards. Please visit OregonLawReform.com to get involved with the serious, honest debate on ending marijuana prohibition in Oregon.