MedMJ Profiteers Join Prohibitionists To Fight California Legalization

Letitia Pepper

An attorney who last week compared marijuana legalization to Jim Crow-era lynchings is working with “the #1 enemy of marijuana legalization” for press conferences this week touting their shared opposition to California’s Prop 64, the initiative to legalize personal use and cultivation of cannabis (hyperlinked full text here).


Kevin Sabet’s new ally says, “Everybody in California who has used marijuana since the Compassionate Use Act passed, whether you’re black, brown, white, yellow, we have all been treated like the n*ggers were treated, right?” (at the 6:44 mark, or get clip here)

We’ve reported on the ongoing phenomenon of cannabis growers, marijuana dealers, pot smokers, and medical marijuana patients who side with the police, prison industry, prosecutors,prohibitionists, piss testers, and pot rehabs in fighting to keep marijuana illegal and weed prices high.

But that enemy-of-my-enemy relationship had always been coincidental and platonic. Now the champions of medical marijuana use are coming out to publicly denounce Prop 64 alongside the non-profit dedicated to ensuring they can’t use whole plant cannabis as medicine. These strange bedfellows are now shacking up together to protect their prohibition profiteering, and they don’t care who knows it.


Letitia Pepper’s new ally calls for “The end of ‘cannabis clubs’ and so-called ‘dispensaries’” and says that “We all know that smoked marijuana is not medicine, and it is … a sad joke.”

In a series of emails obtained by WeedNews, Letitia Pepper, the Riverside attorney who has emerged as a leading spokesperson for the Stoners Against Legalization, is looped in to a request last Friday, October 21, from Kevin Sabet, the head of Project SAM, the nation’s leading anti-marijuana organization, to Lonnie Painter, the Director of Laguna Woods Medical Cannabis.

Sabet asks “See what you think of this and please fill in the info, etc.” about a press release being written by Jeff Zinsmeister of SAM Action, the political action committee (PAC) for Project SAM, which begins:

Los Angeles, CA – SAM Action, the non-profit 501(c)(4) affiliate of SAM, Smart Approaches to Marijuana, a non-profit co-founded by a former Obama Administration drug policy advisor Kevin Sabet, and the largest donor to the No on 64 campaign in California, announced today a partnership with Laguna Woods Medical Cannabis Collective & Village Cannabis Club Seniors to oppose Proposition 64. Press conferences will take place throughout California.

“The ballot initiative to legalize marijuana in California, Prop 64, is nothing more than a corporate money grab,” said Kevin Sabet, President of SAM.

Sabet has prepared a set of talking points for fighting Prop 64, many of which are echoed by the Stoners Against Legalization. Pepper makes her contribution by providing Sabet with an additional scaremongering talking point about the dangers of marijuana edibles. Pepper explained she would “show my editing suggestions by doing stuff in caps”, which is shown in the Zinmeister press release (I’ve added a link to the corresponding Project SAM talking point):

“While we may not agree with medical marijuana advocates on ALL marijuana policy, we’re united in our opposition to this poorly written initiative, which would legalize pot ads on TV, allow for marijuana candy to be sold TO THE GENERAL PUBLIC WHICH HAS NO IDEA OF THE DELAYED INTOXICATING EFFECT OF MARIJUANA EDIBLES, and allow, as happened in Washington State after marijuana legalization, commercial marijuana to be grown with hazardous pesticides that, when heated, turn into cyanide.


This stunt by Kevin Sabet’s newest ally cost the taxpayers of Riverside more money than Wall Street pays Hillary Clinton for a speech.

 Painter approves of the message and offers to provide logistical support, as reflected in Zinmeister’s draft (I’ve again added a link to the corresponding Project SAM talking point):

“For those of us who care about medical marijuana patient rights and their health and safety, Prop 64’s enactment would be is a disaster,” Said, ( Lonnie Painter you can use my name ) “The multimillion-dollar, pro-64 funders behind 64 represent Silicon Valley and Wall Street interests and others whose only concern is to cash in on marijuana legalization without regard to the needs of sick, disabled, health-compromised patients, many of whom are poor and on fixed incomes.”

YesOn64
The only thing scarier to some medical marijuana supporters than the rest of us getting tickets, misdemeanors, and felonies for doing with marijuana what they get away with is the possibility that we might be allowed to get away with it, too, even without a doctor’s permission slip.

Pepper then reached out Friday night to others in the medical marijuana industry to drum up support:

I understand that Kevin Sabet is hated/disliked/ despised by many. That said, he contacted Richard Eastman to see if he could get some patients to turn out for a combined press conference of the anti-pot guys like him and his group and the pro-medical marijuana patient activists.”

Kevin Sabet Russ Belville
Project Sam’s Kevin Sabet and I debating at Rice University in 2012, where he told me that whole plant cannabis isn’t a medicine and people who cultivate it should be charged and punished as serious criminals.

As a side note, Pepper confirms the collusion between a veterans’ medical marijuana group and one of the nearly unanimous California law enforcement organizations to maintain the marijuana prohibition that empowers cops to harass veterans who use medical marijuana.

On a related note, Sean Kiernan from Weed for Warriors was contacted by the California Chiefs of Police to be part of a public discussion– with no police publicly on display — with church deacons. And maybe someone else, I don’t know.

Sean Kiernan of Weed for Warriors Project thought this meme of his opponents in the Prop 64 debate was Sean Kiernan of Weed for Warriors Project found this meme of his opponents in the Prop 64 debate “hilarious”, liked and shared it with his networks, dismissed and insulted my six years of military service, and informed me I’m “not talented enough to be a douche“.

On Saturday afternoon, Pepper is reaching out to more medical marijuana industry opponents of legalization, including Degé Coutee of the Patient Advocacy Network, Humboldt Grace medical marijuana consultants, and a co-author of the original medical marijuana Prop 215, Anna T. Boyce, R.N. (link added):

Kevin Sabet of Smart Approaches to Marijuana and Richard Eastland and I are working to create a one-time coalition of opponents of marijuana legalization and medical marijuana patients and patient-providers to issue a NO on 64 press release. I am including Ellen Brown because the message from the coalition is not about marijuana, but about all the money and where it goes and who it comes from — basically another way to transfer more money from poorer to richer people. — and because of her writings on that subject vis-a-vis 64.

By Saturday night, Boyce had responded to Pepper’s request for a quote by noting her lifelong fight against ending marijuana prohibition:

As the author of the first bill for Medical marijuana in 1991 & 1992 that reach Governor Wilson’s desk but was Vetoed I have always fought against recreational use of this medication & still do. This is a medicine & must always be remembered that that is what it should be used for.

Anna T. BoyceBoyce seems to have had a change of heart since her comments in May to the Orange County Register saying that “legalizing it will finally take away the drug’s stigma and give medical marijuana patients the access they need. If it’s the only way that we can get some success, some assistance, I’m going to have to vote for it.” (Image: Mission Viejo Patch)

On Sunday morning, Pepper was following up on the requests and noting their realpolitik arrangement with the Project SAM group whose ideal medical marijuana policy is corporate manufacture and distribution of non-smoked cannabinoid pharmaceuticals:

Have you decided if your name can be on a press release saying the anti-marijuana people like SAM and medical marijuana patients do not see eye to eye on all marijuana policies, but we are in agreement that we oppose Prop. 64?

The press conferences, according to the Zinmeister draft, are to take place, Tuesday in San Diego, Wednesday in West Hollywood, and Thursday in San Francisco.

Letitia Pepper
Letitia Pepper explaining to news media how Prop 64 is a Trojan Horse employed by George Soros to eliminate the Prop 215 that George Soros contributed $550,000 to pass so he can enrich his Big Pharma and Monsanto portfolio by ensuring all adults can grow cannabis inside their homes with no penalty.

Drug law reform advocates told WeedNews that the partnership between medical marijuana profiteers and prohibition profiteers is disturbing, but not surprising.

Tom Angell, chairman of Marijuana Majority, noted the recent polls show this “strange coalition of unseemly bedfellows” is likely to lose on election day. “I wonder if they will actually follow through and team up to create the sort of non-commercial decriminalization of marijuana possession they’ve given lip service to supporting,” Angell asks rhetorically, referring to the perennial “treat marijuana like tomatoes” initiatives they support that have never gotten close to the ballot. “Will their money be where their mouths are, or are they just trying to stop legalization at any cost and are willing to say whatever they think it takes?”

True Legalization™ Pledge

Amanda Reiman, Manager of Marijuana Law and Policy at the Drug Policy Alliance, which is a major donor and proponent of Prop 64, has personal experience with the confrontational and disruptive tactics of both Pepper and Kiernan. She reports:

Last week some veterans who support 64 and I held an event at the Marin Veteran’s Auditorium. We had heard that some of the Weed for Warriors folks, who are opposed to Prop. 64 might come out, but I was confident that they would not disrespect their fellow veterans for standing up for their beliefs. They did show, and brought Letitia Pepper with them. She video’d us making our statements, calling us liars and traitors and encouraging the others to do the same.

Many of those standing with me have PTSD. One almost passed out due to the badgering then when he had to sit down, they made fun of him for that. One of the ladies involved with us felt so harassed that she was afraid to walk to her car alone afterwards. It was shameful and detracted from their message of support which they have every right to give. It made me mad as a social worker to see vets treated this way.

Argumento in Sacramento

I can corroborate personally the description of Pepper’s and Kiernan’s behavior, for I was on a debate panel at the statehouse earlier this month supporting Prop 64. As I described it in HIGH TIMES online:

The loathing kicked in almost every time I would respond to one of their fears with reason backed by evidence. Audience members, usually the vets, would shout over me while I was talking, becoming belligerent enough that law enforcement had to calm them. The two non-Saunders panelists directly insulted me (“carpetbagger”, a joke about my mother, etc.) and impugned my integrity (“He’s paid by MPP to travel the country to confuse people,” “He works for NORML, who pays him to spread lies”); to his credit, Saunders chided his fellow No on 64 panelists for that. (For the record, my last paycheck from NORML was in mid-2012 and I’ve never received a dime from any other reform org or legalization campaign… you don’t have to pay me to fight for my own freedom.)

If you’re shocked that medical marijuana proponents would team up with a group that would repeal Prop 215 if they could, don’t be. Many people stand to lose a lot of money if Prop 64 passes and ends the status quo of permission-slip quasi-legal medical marijuana. Some of them are pot smokers.

Russ Belville
About Russ Belville 191 Articles
Russ Belville - or "Radical" Russ, as he is known on-air - hosts The Russ Belville Show - The Voice of the Marijuana Nation, a two-hour live news and talk radio program for the cannabis community, weekdays at 3pm Pacific on RadicalRuss.com (learn more on our Podcast page).  The show is based in Portland, Oregon, but "Radical" Russ has traveled over 300,000 air miles in the past five years, bringing his show to report live from hundreds of cannabis conferences, marijuana expos, hemp festivals, and legalization events in over 50 North American cities.