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. moldy says:

      Stupid rabbits! Don’t take on Richard Cowan!

    2. DB says:

      I, for one, am not the least bit surprised that The Heritage Foundation would stoop that low.

      On that same note, it pleases me that they’re feeling so desperate. So much so that they can’t keep their wits about them. It also shows just how strong our organization has become in spreading the truth to the American public.

      The truth shall (as always) prevail!

    3. notSpicoli says:

      “And you call yourselves “Conservatives”?”

      Though Richard Cowan has been at this for decades he still seems surprised and indignant that the opposition to repealing marijuana prohibition can only be made by resorting to lies, hysteria, lack of reason and logic, propaganda, and wearing blinders.

      Thanks for being that way! May your passion against the insanity of prohibition infect every citizen in our nation.

    4. Zack wyman says:

      Crazy religious tebagging tards are against legalization? WHAT WHAT WHAT?!?!?!?! How Shocking. Pussy democrats are against legalization?!?!? how shocking…….

    5. Nic says:

      It seems that the pigs gather and froth at the mouth, (Thank you Richard C), Proposition 19 sends a message.

      A clear and timely message, to the pigs, 36 million citizens will get a chance to vote, regardless of the outcome, the pigs will learn.


      Dianne Feinstein , and her friends in BIG Government, are wondering, The People Of America will End The Drug War.

      Proposition 19 marks the beginning.

      If you value your Freedom, then vote YES to End The Prohibition.

      Do you have any doubt?

      Do you wonder?

      The next chapter sees the man on my shoulder jumping off, as I sigh with relief.

      Imagine a world with no drug cops.

      If you believe in a Higher Power, this is another opportunity to join and become whole.

      My best advice is to stay in The Light of GOD.

      Eternity is Forever and so lonely.

      YES 19

    6. Rick says:

      I did not watch this particular Heritage Foundation video. I did watch watch Allen St. Pierre in defense of the truth against a knothead from the Heritage Foundation. (Brian somebody), from the Heritage Foundation was trying to spread the same old fear mongering tactics with his plastic grin in between the lies he told on another video. I see the reluctance to Federal change of cannabis laws based on the prohibition supporter’s own SELF RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION. That being said, the major players in supporting cannabis prohibition have always used their funds toward mass media propaganda outlets, ie. tv, radio, internet, newspapers, and so on. This nation was on a good course of direction up until the 1930’s with cannabis. They farmed hemp in this country by the acre in early years for paper, oil, textiles, etc. I view each year since then as a total disaster with only some limited success with repeal of mandatory minimums during late 60’s to early 70’s era, and recently with limited medical cannabis state laws. I think marijuana law reform activism needs to do their best in using (any available) media source for truth and intelligent debate on the topic more often until it becomes resolved. I realize the media exposure to the grass truth is hard to find among church collection plates that have (probably) ended up in some television studios mailboxes by way of adspace about the devil weed. Jim Gray talked about the tentacles of prohibition being in many places. I agree. The earliest medical textbook had marijuana listed as a treatment medication for headaches. If all the seniors today and adults were to just stop taking OTC man made pharmaceutical pills for something marijuana could help alleviate, the middle class would cheer loudly. And why? Less side effects, a safer alternative, and lack of criminal prosecution, would be reason enough for many. The state, local, and federal taxation are only one economic sector that would benefit from cannabis legalization. The clothing, paper, and oil industries would also. Thank you NORML for your forum blog. –Rick

    7. mtlasagna says:

      time to understand that fascists are wolves not conservatives.

      the drug war against us all continues to be a fascist wet dream.

      soon, freedom of choice in your neighborhood.

      marijuana is a blessed and righteous herb, mon.

    8. […] full post on NORML Blog, Marijuana Law Reform Share and […]

    9. Freedom says:

      LOL, lookat them. Scared to death that their lil sacred cow my be butcherd. I hope prop 19 and the eventual end to cannabis prohibition nation wide destrys their tyrrany. Fact is, I hope the whole nation one day does a wake and bake and realizes just what our government has done, enslaved us all with lies and greed…then maybe we can have peace at last.

    10. Phil E. Drifter says:

      Stimson should do some research (easy nowadays with the internet) to see that cannabis has been used for medicinal and religious purposes for over 6000 years.

      Not to mention the whole ‘war on (some) drugs’ is nothing more than a war against minorities (minority habits) to replace outlawed slave labor (1865) with prison labor (1904).

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