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Russ Belville
Russ Belville is the Executive Producer of - 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. 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

Occasional Massacres Are the Price of Freedom

(12) Comments | Posted October 2, 2015 | 4:56 PM

It was just about a year ago that I was sitting in a lecture hall at the Umpqua Community College in Roseburg, Oregon. I was tailing Kevin Sabet, the "quarterback of the anti-legalization movement," as he toured through Oregon trying in vain to defeat our marijuana legalization initiative.

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Kevin Sabet Is Misleading You Again About Marijuana Legalization

(49) Comments | Posted September 24, 2015 | 8:13 PM

In his latest Huffington Post piece, "Rand Paul Gets It Wrong, Sonia Sotomayor Gets It Right on Pot," Kevin Sabet, the professional anti-pot propagandist with a Ph.D. in public policy, not medicine or science, trots out more half-truths, distortions, and outright lies to confuse the national discussion on marijuana...

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Why I Fight for Ohio Marijuana Legalization

(73) Comments | Posted September 13, 2015 | 6:07 AM

I'm somewhat of an outlier in the marijuana reform movement these days. Ohio has marijuana legalization on the ballot for 2015, and I'm one of the few high-profile (pardon the pun) legalization advocates pushing hard for its passage. Most of my colleagues are in a hold-their-nose-and-backhandedly-support-it public stance, and some...

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Give Me Bernie Sanders Or Give Me (Political) Death!

(13) Comments | Posted September 11, 2015 | 7:37 PM

When I was a kid, my dad explained to me that we were Democrats because they stood for the working people like us and the Republicans were for the rich people. There is nothing inherently wrong in that, he explained, as everyone deserves representation. It was a yin-yang that kept...

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Top 6 Reasons Why Pot Smokers Should Vote For ResponsibleOhio

(159) Comments | Posted August 13, 2015 | 10:28 AM

This may seem like a strange post for most of Huffington Post's readers. Why wouldn't someone who smokes pot want Ohio to legalize marijuana in 2015? If you ask some marijuana activists, they'll sum it up in two words: constitutional cartel.

See, ResponsibleOhio, the group that may pass marijuana legalization...

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GOP Clown Car Madness: The 2016 Republican Debate Tournament

(0) Comments | Posted August 5, 2015 | 5:00 PM

With the entry of former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore into the race, we now have seventeen major declared candidates for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. FOX News decided yesterday their top ten candidates who will face off at their first main debate, with the other seven candidates relegated to the metaphorical...

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There Are More Marijuana Legalization Initiatives than GOP Presidential Candidates

(38) Comments | Posted July 26, 2015 | 6:22 PM

Not counting initiatives for industrial hemp or non-plant medical marijuana or low-THC cannabidiol oil, there are at least* 20 efforts going on in 8 states nationwide to legalize medical and recreational access to cannabis in 2016. As of this week, there are 16 Republican candidates running for president in...

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Does ResponsibleOhio Suck Worse Than Marijuana Prohibition?

(164) Comments | Posted June 23, 2015 | 6:15 PM

IrresponsibleOhio Will Legalize Before California

My friend Jon Gettman has written an excellent analysis on HIGH TIMES' website of the plan to legalize marijuana in Ohio. This article is now being forwarded to me via social media by folks who hate the ResponsibleOhio legalization plan for 2015 and hate...

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Oregon Legislature Hates Potheads More Than It Respects Democracy

(79) Comments | Posted June 15, 2015 | 4:58 PM

This last election, a group of activists calling themselves New Approach Oregon wrote an initiative called Measure 91. Following the dictates of the Oregon Constitution, they got state approval for their marijuana legalization language, collected enough signatures, placed it on the ballot, and won with 56 percent of the statewide...

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An Open Letter to Oregon Senator Jeff Kruse

(3) Comments | Posted May 27, 2015 | 10:51 AM

Dear Senator Kruse,

I was forwarded a letter you had written in response to recent legislative attempts at re-regulating medical marijuana. You open with a condemnation of those who have petitioned you with threats and vulgarity. While I do not fault you for disrespecting those tactics, I would hope...

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Democratic Oregon Senator Ginny Burdick Ignores Marijuana Legalization Voters

(87) Comments | Posted May 14, 2015 | 7:08 PM

If you're just joining us, Oregon's joint legislative committee that was assigned the task of implementing our recreational marijuana legalization got bogged down trying to restrict the medical marijuana program. Never mind that the Measure 91 recreational marijuana legalization initiative said, three times, that the existing medical marijuana...

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What's the Point of Voting When Lawmakers Ignore the Vote?

(133) Comments | Posted May 12, 2015 | 4:04 PM

You may recall last year that we voters here in Oregon passed statewide marijuana legalization. We're one of the 26 states with some form of citizen lawmaking ability, so we crafted a marijuana legalization initiative, got it on the ballot, and passed it with a 56 percent majority.

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Travel Author Rick Steves: Marijuana in America Is 'Two Different Countries'

(29) Comments | Posted January 9, 2015 | 4:07 PM

Rick Steves is the affable host of public television's best travel series, "Rick Steves' Europe." He's also the author of "Europe Through the Back Door," a best-selling series of travel guide books. His approachable demeanor makes him one of your grandparent's favorite television hosts; his boyish good looks and friendliness...

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Michigan Cop Suicides Over Medical Marijuana Butter Conviction

(20) Comments | Posted November 24, 2014 | 12:26 PM

In Kent County, Michigan, 49-year-old Tim Bernhardt is dead by his own hand. The 22-year veteran police officer was forced to plead guilty to felony charges of maintaining a drug house, ending his law enforcement career and causing his suicide.

The tragic story begins with a tip from...

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Marijuana CEO Maligns Stoner Culture, Then Appropriates Bob Marley

(8) Comments | Posted November 21, 2014 | 11:00 AM

You may have read the news that Privateer Holdings has entered into a marketing agreement with the Estate of Bob Marley to begin marketing "Marley Natural" marijuana. The marijuana will be "a premium cannabis brand rooted in the life and legacy" of Bob Marley, according to Privateer's CEO,...

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District Attorney Who Opposed Oregon Legalization In Charge Of Implementing Marijuana Regulations

(14) Comments | Posted November 14, 2014 | 5:41 PM

Measure 91 to legalize marijuana passed with 55.9% of the votes in Oregon. Now the task of implementing the regulations falls to the Oregon Liquor Control Commission, whose chair, Rob Patridge, pledged to "make this measure work Oregon's way" the day after the election.

But chairman of the...

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Southern Oregon's KTVL Gives Cops Free 5-Minute Anti-Measure 91 Ad

(2) Comments | Posted October 30, 2014 | 4:45 PM

We're less than a week away from voting to legalize marijuana in Oregon under Measure 91.  The Yes on 91 campaign has bankrolled millions in donations and is airing pro-legalization advertisements on television stations across the state.  The No on 91 campaign has bankrolled a measly $180,000, 98% of that...

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Oregon Anti-Pot Campaign Head Used Gov't Job to Enrich Anti-Pot Crusader

(4) Comments | Posted October 24, 2014 | 9:57 AM

The head of the No on Measure 91 Campaign to defeat marijuana legalization in Oregon is a woman named Mandi Puckett. She works at BestCare Prevention Services in Jefferson County, Oregon.  She's on a leave of absence from BestCare to run the anti-pot campaign, where her strategy is

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No on Measure 91 Campaign Makes The Case FOR Legalizing Marijuana

(2) Comments | Posted October 18, 2014 | 8:59 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 | 3:08 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  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 and - 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 address to his address:

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