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Russ Belville
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Russ Belville is the Executive Producer of 420RADIO.org - 24 Hour Marijuana Legalization Talk Radio - and the host of The Russ Belville Show, airing live at 3pm Pacific every weekday, with replays at 6pm, 9pm, 6am, & 9am. 420RADIO.org is available via web, TuneIn Radio, Ustream TV, SHOUTcast, and on demand at iTunes, Stitcher, and YouTube. Russ also contributes to HIGH TIMES, Alternet, Salon, National Cannabis Coalition, and The Weed Blog and is a renown marijuana policy expert who has presented at dozens of national drug policy and marijuana business conferences, hempfests, Cannabis Cups, state legislatures, and political rallies. Russ began his marijuana activism in 2005 volunteering with Oregon NORML in Portland, then working for National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington DC from 2009-2012.

Entries by Russ Belville

No on Measure 91 Campaign Makes The Case FOR Legalizing Marijuana

(1) Comments | Posted October 18, 2014 | 7:59 PM

On Friday, Mandi Puckett, the head of the No on Measure 91 campaign trying to defeat legalization in Oregon, held a press conference Friday that was chock full of concerned moms and precocious kids.  More telling was the presence of law enforcement and drug treatment professionals joining in to protect...

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Oregon Drug Summit "Intentionally Planned" Around Marijuana Legalization

(5) Comments | Posted October 13, 2014 | 2:08 PM

On October 1-3, Kevin Sabet toured Oregon delivering a PowerPoint presentation called "Marijuana and our Youth." This was part of the Oregon Marijuana Education Summit & Tour happening just two weeks prior to the mailing of ballots for a legalization vote.

Controversy arose when the Measure 91 campaign pointed out the political nature of such a tour, especially when featuring "the quarterback of the anti-legalization movement" delivering "education" about marijuana.  In response, the Oregon Health Authority sent out a letter explaining how such activities could be construed as a political event for which drug prevention grant money could not be spent.  BestCare Prevention, one of these grantees, then pulled its $15,000 of grant money from sponsorship of the tour.  The Oregonian reported the executive director of BestCare explaining, "the summit has been held for several years in October and that this year's event was not intended to influence the marijuana vote."

I've already explained how this allegedly annual October marijuana summit only happened in 2012 and 2014, when we had legalization on the ballot in the forms of Measure 80 and Measure 91, respectively.  Now, thanks to the Open Records Request you helped fund, we find emails to Jefferson County DA Steven LeRiche that prove that tour organizers hold these summits to attack legalization on the ballot.

Mandi Puckett - 2012 Summit vs Measure 80

  • Same "Statewide Marijuana Summit" as 2014, check.
  • Same "Living Hope Christian Center in Madras" as 2014, check.
  • Same speakers (Kevin Sabet & Eric Martin) as 2014, check.
  • "Our educational event is intentionally planned at this time as Measure 80 in on the November ballot to legalize marijuana.  Ballots go out the week of our summit." ... priceless!
In previous reports, I noted how for the 2014 Summit, Kevin Sabet was asking for $3,000 per city - which would have been $39,000 of public money from drug prevention grants for a thirteen-city tour.  After our attention to this public funding, it became a seven-city tour where Kevin Sabet's fees would equal $21,000 in private donations, including $15,000 from the Sheriffs' Association...

Darrell Fuller - Sheriffs Cover Shortfall

...and at least $2,000 from funds raised by DA Steven LeRiche from other DAs between 10am and 2pm on a Friday from LeRiche's office using county email.

Steven LeRiche - Friday Fundraising

Halfway through that Friday, DA LeRiche gets an update on the contracted cost for each of the presenters.  (Oddly, the contracts referenced in this email did not come attached to the email.  I have requested those attachments from Alexa Gassner, the Jefferson County Counsel who has been handing my requests there.)

Marie Watkins 2014 - Contratcs for Presenters

It seems, however, that Kevin Sabet was willing to negotiate a little bit lower price, just $15,000, or $5,000 per day to "educate" Oregonians about marijuana before voting on Measure 91:

Steven LeRiche - 2014 Summit to Pay Sabet

(That part about "smuggling marijuana into our jails and prisons" is one of the Measure 91 lies being promulgated by DA Josh Marquis.  Measure 91 adds a ticketable infraction for a jail worker who possesses marijuana at a prison, but does not repeal the current Class C felony for smuggling marijuana into a prison.  You'd think a District Attorney would understand that... if he wanted to.  And don't ask me how we accessed a press release from 2015.)

With Kevin Sabet back onboard, DA LeRiche could not wait to get this out to anti-legailization talk radio host Lars Larson (side note: Chris Christie, Erick Erickson, Lars Larson... why do only conservative parents name their kids redundant names?  And no, Robbie Robertson of The Band is a pseudonym):

Steven LeRiche - 2014 Lars Larson

It also seems Kevin Sabet was actively involved in helping to produce and secure funding for the tour:

Kevin Sabet - $15,000 to me, right

Sabet's quote "to pay for me" leads me to believe that, indeed, this is straight profit for Kevin Sabet and not some pass-through of funds for his appearance that somehow benefits his Project SAM organization.

Kevin Sabet - WE can sayAgain, money for "my appearances at the Tour." If now "we will be able to tell the media the Summit IS happening, albeit with non-public money," I'd have to assume that before now, it was planned to happen with public money in 2014 and most definitely used public money in 2012.

After DA LeRiche spent four work hours using county email and phone to raise at least $2,000 to help pay Kevin Sabet, he was also coordinating panelists for the Summit.  Here he receives a note from Jeffrey Lichtenberg, the director of Jefferson County's Juvenile Division, indicating Lichtenberg was withdrawing from his participation at the Summit.  DA LeRiche explains how the Summit would help them deal with the "likely legalization of marijuana" happening under Measure 91:

Steve LeRiche - 2014 Summit vs Measure 91

The more we uncover, the dirtier this deal becomes.  You can help us by digging into the documents stored at http://radicalruss.com/docs.  In addition to uncovering the public funding of Kevin Sabet's appearance at the 2012 Summit and the attempt to repeat the public money cash grab for him again in 2014, we are very concerned about the use of "private emails" - Gmail accounts for coastda@gmail.com and madrasda@gmail.com - that the counties are refusing to turn over in our Open Records Request.

Their defense of the refusal is that the counties don't maintain the Gmail servers those emails are stored upon.  That is irrelevant.  The state law refers to public records that are including but not limited to that which the county stores on email servers.  The idea that our public law enforcement officials may be evading Open Records Laws by conducting the public's business in Gmail is frightening to anyone who prefers transparency and accountability in our democracy, regardless of where one stands on marijuana legalization.

For just one of many instances, here is DA Steven LeRiche passing on the official Oregon Health Authority notice warning about proscription on using grant money for political events from his co.jefferson.or.us address to his madrasda@gmail.com address:

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Oregon Drug Abuse Officials Wanted To Pay Legalization Opponent Over $40,000 With Public Money

(2) Comments | Posted October 7, 2014 | 8:57 AM

I've concluded my last of seven stops following Kevin Sabet around Oregon as he performed a so-called "educational" tour two weeks prior to the mailing of ballots in Oregon that include marijuana legalization.  It appears more than ever that county drug prevention staff and district attorneys were trying to secure over...

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Are Oregon DAs Hiding Public Business From Records Requests?

(1) Comments | Posted October 4, 2014 | 7:56 PM

As you know, I have been conducting records requests for Oregon DAs emails regarding the possible misuse of federal grant funds to campaign against Measure 91.  This is difficult, as the arbiter of records requests in these counties are the district attorneys.  To his credit, Clatsop County DA...

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District Attorney Intimidates Oregon Citizen Seeking Open Records

(13) Comments | Posted September 29, 2014 | 3:21 PM

Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis of Astoria, Oregon, is none too happy about citizens like me poking around in his public records.  Now DA Marquis, the de facto spokesperson for law enforcement's opposition to Oregon's Measure 91, our marijuana legalization initiative, is trying to intimidate me into ceasing...

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Congressman Blumenauer Addresses IRS vs. Legal Marijuana This Saturday

(0) Comments | Posted September 9, 2014 | 4:29 PM

Congressman Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) is well-known in Washington DC for his bow ties and dedication to bicycling. Yet this quintessentially liberal environmentalist from Portland teamed up last year with the conservative head of Americans for Tax Reform, Grover Norquist, to call for sweeping changes to US tax laws.

The subject...

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The Desperate Claims of Josh Marquis Part IV: Where's the Marijuana Breathalyzer?

(5) Comments | Posted September 9, 2014 | 9:41 AM

As the leading law enforcement voice for the anti-Measure 91 campaign to legalize marijuana in Oregon, Clatsop County District Attorney Josh Marquis is tasked with delivering half-truths, distortions, and manufactured scares to convince Oregonians to maintain the status quo of ticketing pot users, arresting pot dealers, and imprisoning pot...

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The Desperate Claims of Josh Marquis, Part III: Stoned Mayhem on the Freeways

(1) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 1:57 PM

Stoned Mayhem on the Freeways, or SMOF, is what I call the go-to scare tactic of the drug warriors seeking to maintain the status quo of marijuana prohibition.  In Oregon, where voters are preparing to pass marijuana legalization in the form of Measure 91, the leading law-enforcement spokesperson against...

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US Rep Calls For Fed Investigation Over Anti-Pot Initiative Campaign

(1) Comments | Posted September 5, 2014 | 12:34 PM

US Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) has called on the directors of the federal Office of National Drug Control Policy and the Substance Abuse Mental Health Administration to investigate allegations of illegal use of public taxpayer funds to influence Oregon's upcoming vote on marijuana legalization, known as Measure 91.

...
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The Desperate Claims of Josh Marquis, Part II: There's No Money in Legal Weed

(2) Comments | Posted September 4, 2014 | 12:49 PM

In continuing my dissection of the obfuscations and half-truths of Clatsop County DA Josh Marquis, the leading spokesperson for law enforcement's opposition to marijuana legalization in Oregon, I happened upon a statement of his on his personal Facebook page that claims Measure 91's legalization of marijuana won't provide...

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The Desperate Claims of Josh Marquis (Part 1): The Measure 91 'Easter Egg'

(16) Comments | Posted September 3, 2014 | 10:52 PM

You have to feel some sympathy for Josh Marquis.  By all accounts, he's a decent man and a good district attorney for Clatsop County.  But, unfortunately for him, he's emerged as the leading voice for law enforcement's opposition to Measure 91, Oregon's initiative to legalize marijuana.  That's a tough position...

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Fed Tax Money Supports Campaign Against Oregon's Marijuana Legalization

(18) Comments | Posted August 22, 2014 | 6:41 AM

2014-08-21-KevinSabet.jpgThe "quarterback of the anti-legalization movement", Kevin Sabet, is bringing his road show to Oregon on the taxpayer's dime to campaign against Measure 91, our initiative to legalize marijuana. Except that he says, oh, no, heavens to Murgatroyd , "these...

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AdWeek: "Who Will Become the Starbucks of Pot?"

(4) Comments | Posted July 30, 2014 | 3:27 PM

"Who Will Become the Starbucks of Pot?" That's the headline of the latest cover story in AdWeek, the trade magazine of advertising and marketing. The cover itself is a headshot of Beverly Hills Cannabis Club's Cheryl Shuman, describing her as "The First Pot Marketer."

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Kevin Sabet's Marijuana Math Doesn't Add Up

(13) Comments | Posted July 17, 2014 | 11:34 AM

Kevin Sabet from Smart Approaches to Marijuana Use Except Legalization (SAMUEL)I watched the debate between Judge Jim Gray and Kevin Sabet on the resolution "Legalizing marijuana saves money and lives," sponsored by the Foundation for Economic Education.  Space constraints...

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New York Governor Steering Medical Marijuana Into the Box Canyon

(31) Comments | Posted June 17, 2014 | 9:07 AM

The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, who has been a longtime opponent of medical marijuana, has today delivered a bombshell of demands before he'll sign a medical marijuana law that is fighting its way through the Assembly and Senate. The legislature is set to adjourn this week, so his...

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'Regulate Marijuana Like Alcohol' Doesn't Mean Home Use Only

(14) Comments | Posted May 23, 2014 | 1:17 PM

Vincent Carroll has written a piece for the Denver Post entitled, "Like it or not, CSO must abide by Amendment 64." In it, he scolds the Colorado Symphony Orchestra for its original plan to create a series of fundraising concerts where patrons could bring and consume their own...

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No Marijuana Candy at Oregon Dispensaries?

(0) Comments | Posted March 21, 2014 | 8:46 PM

The Oregon Health Authority has passed a draft rule that would ban the sale of any cannabis edibles "manufactured in a form that resembles cake-like products, cookies, candy, or gum, or that otherwise may be attractive to minors because of its shape, color, or taste." That's right, no pot brownies...

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NRA Quiet on Disarming Legal Medical Marijuana Patients

(21) Comments | Posted February 7, 2014 | 9:06 AM

Officials writing the regulations for Illinois' nascent medical marijuana program have decided that medical marijuana cancels out the Second Amendment. According to the proposal, a registered medical marijuana patient would have to give up ownership of any firearms, even if the patient has a state firearm owner's ID card or...

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Alaska Next State to Vote on Legal Weed

(1) Comments | Posted February 5, 2014 | 4:35 PM

The Alaskan Secretary of State's Office has certified that over 30,000 valid signatures from 30 of 40 House districts have been collected to put a marijuana legalization initiative on the August 19 primary ballot. (Alaska is unique among initiative states in that it places the language before primary...

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Let the Stoner Bowl Pot Puns Begin!

(3) Comments | Posted January 21, 2014 | 8:04 AM

By now you know the Denver Broncos and the Seattle Seahawks will be playing in the Super Bowl.

You've probably also been made punfully aware these are the two largest cities in the only two states that have legalized marijuana.

"This gives new meaning to the term Super BOWL," quipped...

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