The Heritage Foundation: A Last Refuge For Reefer Madness?

  • by Allen St. Pierre, Former NORML Executive Director October 17, 2010

    Last week the Heritage Foundation embarrassed itself again with an online essay from Cully Stimson, where Mr. Stimson abandons his and the Foundation’s supposed conservatism and free market principles in favor of maintaining the untenable bureaucratic ‘sacred cow’ of the federal government’s expensive, Constitution-twisting and self-evidently failed eight-decade-old Cannabis Prohibition.

    Stimson’s “proof” that medical cannabis is a scam…an Andrew Breitbart-like edited videotape taken by rabid prohibitionists in the early 1990s which sought to ‘expose’ the supposed great medical cannabis hoax.

    Stimson’s and the Heritage Foundation’s pathetic attempt to propagandize against the ending of Cannabis Prohibition (gee, do you think the pending passage of Prop. 19 has the Reefer Madness-types nervous?) will likely be as successful as the ‘medical marijuana is a hoax’ videotape was at stopping over a dozen states from adopting medical cannabis laws, imprisoning medical cannabis patients (the Drug-Free America Foundation actually sent a copy of the videotape to federal judge Charles Breyer just before he was going to sentence cannabis cultivation expert and activist Ed Rosenthal…to one day served) and deterring a future President from supporting medical access to cannabis, which is to say, not at all.

    Take a moment to read Stimson’s rant and watch the video here, then, read the strongly-worded rebuttal below of Stimson’s ironic target for his pro-federal government and anti-free market propaganda: co-founder of Young Americans For Freedom, Yale graduate, Texas oilman, capitalist, William F. Buckley confidant and former NORML director Richard Cowan.

    To the Heritage Foundation:

    Richard Cowan responds to “The High Priest of Medical Marijuana” by Charles “Cully” D. Stimson.

    October 12, 2010

    I am the Richard Cowan cited in this absurd posting. And yes, I am very proud to say that I was once the National Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

    However, there are two more facts about me that I would like Heritage readers to know before addressing the substance of the issue.

    First, I am also a founding member of Young Americans for Freedom, and like most of the founders, I was – and still am – a libertarian. I do not now nor have I ever thought that freedom is a “scam”, nor do I believe that lying is either necessary or acceptable in the struggle against the omnipotent state.

    Second, I am also the author of an article, “THE TIME HAS COME: ABOLISH THE POT LAWS”, published in the December 6, 1972 issue of National Review. Bill Buckley said, “”I flatly agree with him.” In fact, Bill wrote very frequently in support of legalization over the years.

    Something else he said makes a point that Heritage completely misses:
    “One of the problems that the marijuana-reform movement consistently faces is that everyone wants to talk about what marijuana does, but no one ever wants to look at what marijuana prohibition does. Marijuana never kicks down your door in the middle of the night. Marijuana never locks up sick and dying people, does not suppress medical research, does not peek in bedroom windows. Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.”

    Was Buckley a part of this “scam”? And what about George Shultz? Or Milton Friedman? Or most of the current editors of National Review, and many other prominent conservatives? Or Ron Paul?

    Or do you prefer the company of Diane Feinstein and Barack Obama?

    Now for the substance of the charge that in 1993 I said that medical marijuana or legalization or whatever is a “scam”:

    What would it prove, if I really had said that? It would seem to me that it would prove nothing more than that I was – perhaps still am – both evil enough to tell a dumb lie and stupid enough to announce it as such in public.

    In short, the video proves nothing whatsoever about either medical marijuana or legalization, but I think it does prove something about the profound intellectual dishonesty of anyone who would try to use it for that purpose.

    At a conference on medical marijuana and LSD (about which I had no comment) I was asked whether NORML, which was founded with the stated goal of ending marijuana prohibition, had abandoned that objective and was only working for medical marijuana.

    My answer was intended to reassure everyone that our goal had not changed, and to explain how I thought that proving the value of medical marijuana would help us. As I said, having marijuana used by a large number of people under clinical supervision would refute the “reefer madness” prohibitionist propaganda that supported the massive state violence inherent in the “Drug War.” Of course, I had clearly under estimated the intellectual dishonesty of people like Mr. Stimson.

    These conferences are always open to the public, so apparently someone from a prohibitionist group, probably Mel Sembler’s Drug Free America Foundation was there with a camera. (I assume that is where you got the video. Google: ‘Mel Sembler’ + ‘Straight Incorporated’, and then re-reread what Buckley said.)

    Shortly after the conference the statist propaganda mills began to claim that I had said that medical marijuana is a “scam.” Oddly, even the heavily edited version of the video does not support that interpretation. If one listens closely, I said that the “whole scam will be blown.”


    Would I really dumb enough to say that our position is a “scam” and then say it will be “blown”? And then we are supposed to clever enough to pull off the scam???

    Of course, thanks to the editing you cannot hear me saying in the next sentence, “I mean what we know is that marijuana prohibition is the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on the American people…”

    If that seems hyperbolic, consider that 17 years later a prominent think tank that claims to be “based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense” is still pushing third rate collectivist propaganda based on dishonest editing and absurd arguments in support of a disastrous scam that undermines individual freedom, blocks scientific research, destroys the political stability of a vital neighbor, circumvents property rights and due process, funds terrorists, and subverts the rule of law.

    And you call yourselves “Conservatives”?

    -Richard Cowan

    43 responses to “The Heritage Foundation: A Last Refuge For Reefer Madness?”

    1. Sam Baldwin says:

      No one likes to be told they are wrong, and these prohibitionists are kicking and screaming all the way down to their failed cause. A system built on lies that accomplishes the opposite of what it is intended to is a failure, and anyone who can’t see that is pretty ignorant. The ships sinking and the life boat is called common sense and reason, and if you don’t want to get on because a man in a suit said it will kill you, than you obviously don’t trust your own judgement.

    2. Weeda Claus says:


      Richard Cowan’s point of view is spot on. Exposing the litany of lies nd the hypocrisy is what we must do. Check out the video on the link above where peaceful people protest at a store run by the State Liquor cartel in New Hampshire. Pages 2 and 3 on the Weeda Claus site have the liquor store video.

    3. Jeedi says:

      The Heritage Foundation, and other like them, are going to end up in the minority. This guy’s “reefer madness” does not work anymore; it is old news (read: propaganda) and not savvy in the eyes of the public today. The public is well aware of stores selling marijuana brownies, lollipops and sodas with no social breakdown in society. Videos like this only hurt the opposition. It is just a matter of time before more and more so-called “conservatives” change sides and embrace this new marijuana Renaissance that is happening today. I would bet in less than 10 years, any surviving prohibitionists, like this guy from the Heritage ‘Thingy’ maybe, are going to look almost as bad as Ardent Nazis from the past.

    4. […] The High Priest of Medical Marijuana US: The High Priest of Medical Marijuana NORML / October 17th, 2010 / Allen St. Pierre, Last week the Heritage Foundation embarrassed itself […]

    5. Bradson says:

      This bogus Cowan “scam” quote is such old news for anyone who has followed the legalization movement. Mr. Stimson is a fool. After Prop 19 passes, he and all the other delusional prohibitionists will be forced to confront the ineffectiveness of their lies. But mostly I’d just like to be able to grow this herb in my yard without fear of arrest, or be able to buy a bag of decent herb at the corner market for a price that reflects the actual cost of producing it rather than the outrageous mark-ups that reflect the entrenched official, irrational fear of a non-toxic plant.

    6. matt says:

      Guys not even good a propaganda, that video was edited so badly that a child could see it was skewed to the heritage foundations interests, yet another big organization bent on keeping and gaining more power at the expense of the people.

    7. Pot Nero says:

      Ok American Heritage Foundation, here’s what the founders said…

      “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country”- Thomas Jefferson

      “We shall, by and by, want a world of Hemp more for our own consumption”- John Adams

      “”Make the most you can of the Indian Hempseed, and sow it everywhere.”- Goerge Washington

      THAT’S OUR HERITAGE !!!!, so take your liberty bell logo and shove it up your Oligarch asses…save your seeds, hide your weed people

    8. 420isNormal says:

      There is only 2 weeks to go before Vote Day. I don’t think many will be changing their minds in two weeks. Most people have made their minds up already. Even in big elections such as running for President, it is common knowledge that the last 2 weeks changes very little as most have made up their minds at this point. The focus for the last 2 weeks should be on turn out. Getting the voters to the polls. Putting plans in place for vote day to get every voter possible to the vote stations.

    9. bloominbuds says:

      Just watched an interview with the tom hartman who interviewed cully stimson over the phone.This interview was on free speech t.v..And I must say I usually do not agree with mr. hartman on most every issue.But on legalizing cannibas he handed the heritage foundations mr. stimson his hat in this debate.Mr. stimson used most if not all of the fear tactics and mr.hartman shot him down everytime.Truth will always win out over dishonesty.Right after this interview tom hartman interviewed jim gray the fromer judge and current ambassidor of L.E.A.P. very interesting interview.