Archive for Racism and Cannabis

The Fight Against Toxicity, Discrimination and Corruption of Cannabis Continues in Washington State

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board (WSLCB) had a major independent study of their enforcement division by consulting firm, Hillard-Heintze

Their report, which was released at the end of 2019, showed a toxic culture exists within the agency. You can read it here on the WSLCB’s website.

Our independent research here at 420leaks goes beyond and shows an agency and state leaders that risk losing it’s entire licensing scheme, the billions in sales and taxes, subjecting it to further loss by individual or class action lawsuits due to this toxic culture.

Kind of ironic for an industry now recognized by these same politicians as “essential” during a pandemic.

Aaron Barfield, Peter Manning and several others from Black Excellence In Cannabis based out of Renton, WA have all experienced discrimination in the licensing process. 

I 502 has been a nightmare for me,” stated Barfield.”

“I did not support I 502 but I knew it would be the death of medical so I tried to move forward under that system. I had no idea that I was in for such a financially devastating experience.’

Their group has been lobbying the WSLCB and the state legislators for years to get the black and minority communities to have equity in the industry.  

I-502 was sold as a way for medical providers to turn their operations into regulated businesses. That regulation was supposed to grant access to economic opportunity.

Barfield told us, “Instead the WSLCB has regulated us out of an industry that we built. This system has almost completely excluded African Americans.”

He also stated, “During the application process they denied Peter and I due process by arbitrarily moving our qualifications around and then even enforced rules that didn’t exist to disqualify us.’

“The most disturbing and frustrating thing is that after denying our applications the WSLCB approved a white woman from Peter’s Medical Marijuana Collective Garden for a license, with the exact same paperwork.’

The state made an effort to bring collectives under the larger I-502 model in 2015 legislation in spite of bitter protests from the grassroots community thaat sprung up around medical cannabis..

They filed a lawsuit against the state and US attorney William Barr in US Federal Court in Washington D.C. over the discrimination within the WSLCB licensing last month.

They plan to use this effort to bring exposure to the corrupt and discriminatory nature of Washington’s cannabis regulatory scheme.

“We have been trying for years to find a solution in Washington. In our recent meeting with Governor Jay Inslee, he used our platform handout as a coaster for his soda can while we plead our case.”

Black Excellence in Cannabis Members meet with Governor Inslee

“This showed us that our only hope for remedy would be to seek protection and relief from US federal court,” said Barfield.

Another case that highlighted WSLCB toxicity came to our attention last spring was JOHN JUNG VS WSLCB filed in Pierce County Superior court.  

We first found out about WSLCB enforcement officer John Jung while listening to testimony he gave about the lack of training and the toxic culture within the WSLCB to the Commerce and Gaming Committee in the Washington State legislature last March.  He wrote a press release for us describing what he is experiencing.

Jung filed a lawsuit against the agency for failing to give him and other enforcement officers the full peace officer training and certification while also allowing a toxic work environment, giving many officers guns and badges.  In other words, they are not police officers, yet they are acting like it.

After describing Jung’s story to the House Public Safety Committee Chair Rep. Roger Goodman in a lunch meeting last winter, we were informed the WSLCB was asking for this authority in legislation he was then considering for the 2020 legislative session that ended in March this year.

It was not until a pile of search warrants obtained from the WSLCB by 420leaks, including raids on patients in their homes into Rep. Goodman’s hands that we all realized the gravity of the situation.

Not only does the agency have under-trained and under-certified officers being given guns and badges without being peace officers, but they have also been getting search warrants signed by judges and raiding people in their homes and businesses!

The agency has been conducting these criminal investigations on marijuana cases when they only appear to have regulatory authority on i502 licensees and registered patient cooperative gardens and others.  

In one case from late last year, Levi Lyon and his girlfriend had their bus seized by the agency.  They did it because his girlfriend offered to share a hit with undercover WSLCB officer. The hit was from her own personal amount that was purchased legally from an I502 shop. 

His full story and request for help from the community is found here.

We’ll have more to say on this story coming soon. Check our Facebook page for a sneak peak.

The WSLCB is doing these criminal investigations and raids with the cooperation of other law enforcement agencies, while at the same time are asking the legislators to give them authority to do these things.  

The first case we found the  WSLCB doing this was in 2017, less than a year after the law from 2015 went into effect in 2016.  It was a raid using a SWAT tank on a registered patient with just 10 plants. Here’s the full search warrant obtained by 420leaks.

The most recent bill requested by LCB asking for authority to investigate criminal matters on marijuana, tobacco and vapor products was House Bill 1626.  The bill was introduced in the 2019 legislative session and carried over for consideration for the 2020 session.  It never moved through the process. 

This means as of this writing, it appears the WSLCB still has no statutory authority.

They also asked for the mutual cooperation authority to work with other law enforcement back in 2015 with House Bill 1537 and were denied for that as well by the legislators.  They still do not have this authority, yet they are doing it anyway.

They have been asking for this criminal enforcement authority for over a decade, but keep getting denied every year. 

Part of the problem with this toxic police style culture is that WSLCB contracts with a 3rd party called LEXIPOL for writing their enforcement policy.   
 
LEXIPOL writes policy nationwide for mostly police agencies.  The agency is failing to amend these policies to match their agency regulatory authority.  Rick Garza and the board have failed to reign in the overreach.

This leads to confusion between the Chief of Enforcement and the enforcement division unsure of what their boundaries are when you have policies that contain full criminal law enforcement policy.

The ACLU went after Spokane PD over LEXIPOL policies a few years back, finding all kinds of issues created by not amending LEXIPOL policy to adapt for our state statutes.

We sent this information to the ACLU (and every other group we could think of). Are they not investigating because Alison Holcomb and the ACLU were the driving force behind behind the I502 initiative? 

We received copies of these  WSLCB policies and you can see the LEXIPOL copywrite on them…

Lexipol copyright on WSLCB enforcement policy

As we reported last month, they have even given themselves the policy for use of cell phone spy technology, like Stingray devices in the search and seizure policies.

WSLCB Cell Phone Spying Policy

We have a records request out now to see if they are actually using these cellphone spying technologies.

Even the Hillard-Heintze independent report for the legislators on the toxic culture released at the end of 2019 referenced these problems with LEXIPOL writing policy for a regulatory agency.


From Hillard Heintze WSLCB 2019 report, page 41

420leaks has now confirmed these issues with the agency during a brief conversation with WSLCB Board Member Ollie Garrett.  

Our founder John Novak spoke to her last Saturday when after a social equity in cannabis licensing event in Seattle, that improperly trained and uncertified WSLCB enforcement officers are being issued guns.

He told her they need to get these out of those officers hands.  She replied, “It is going to happen.”

So on Feb. 25, 2020, Novak begged the Senate Labor and Commerce Committee to please fix the toxic culture and take the guns away from those uncertified officers at a public hearing on a bill for social equity in cannabis licensing the WSLCB had requested, House Bill 2870.

You can also watch Barfield and Manning testimony at the hearing here.

Right after, corporate cannabis lobbyist Vicki Christophersen told him in the hallway that she heard the guns would be gone in 60 days.

So not only is everyone aware of this down there in Olympia, they are going to allow it to go on for at least another 2 months!

However, in public records released since, that even appears to be in question.

The state is negligent to say the least. What happens if someone gets shot, or even just an accidental discharge?

This is a complete fiasco and lucky this has not happened to date that we are aware of.

In our independent review, we have concluded the state should strip the guns and the LEXIPOL strategies, abolish the board and current executive directors and terminate the employment of the heads of the enforcement division.

Our state should hang it’s head in shame at the failure in leadership.

This falls directly on the hands of two other offices in Olympia.  

Jay (Inslee) and Silent Bob (Ferguson) are a joke when it comes to Washington State cannabis laws and our constitution and protecting the right of individuals.  

One would have thought the legislators would reign in this corrupt agency after the courts found 17 violations of the Open Public Meetings Act back in 2014.  They were caught by open government and public records researcher Arthur West by holding secret meetings with law enforcement, substance abuse and other insider stakeholders.  He eventually settled the case with the agency for nearly $200,000 in 2015.

The failure of our many in our own community advocacy groups to speak out is just as alarming when you realize cannabis forfeitures are up and our state is #1 in the entire nation in that category by a large margin according to the DEA’s numbers!

That means more money to pay confidential informants and undercover cops who prey on people over Facebook and other social media, or by joining groups and going out and using cannabis with them.

It is time for new leadership and an end to this horrific war on the cannabis grassroots community by state and corporate creeps and their tax payer funded goon squads.  100+ years of targeting good people over a plant is a national disgrace and the true reefer madness.

“Governor Inslee and the state leaders here have failed to fulfill their responsibilities to implement a fair & equitable cannabis regulatory system to ensure equal access to economic opportunities and provide equal protection under the law for all members of our community,” said Barfield.

It’s true. Just ask the state legislators. They have openly told us this has been a corrupt agency since it began in 1933! We aren’t reporting something new. But it is newsworthy since it appears nobody seems to be willing to hold their feet to the fire.

This is worse than legalization.  It is a stab in the back in the name of progress.  It is taking away our constitutional rights and hoping you’ll smoke too much to care.

Let’s not forget this once our lives go back to normal in these trying times.

(John Novak and Aaron Barfield contributed to this article)

Black Excellence In Cannabis: LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!

Sent to us on 1/20/2020

CALL YOU LEGISLATOR AND LET YOUR VOICE BE HEARD!

For decades the African-American Community was the face of the war on drugs.

The same government that locked up black and brown men and women; now seek to profit from the legal sale of Marijuana in those same communities, while also excluding US from ownership.

#2020 is an election year. Let your legislator know—YOU ARE WATCHING THESE BILLS AND THEIR VOTE. YOU WILL NOT BE SILENT.

Call the Washington State Legislative HOTLINE a1-800-562-6000 (TTY for Hearing Impaired 800.833.6388)

Callers to the Hotline can leave a brief message for their district legislators or for the Governor.

Use this website to find YOUR district legislators:
https://app.leg.wa.gov/DistrictFinder/

You can use this script:

Script: Dear Representative/Senator: __________________. I’m calling on behalf of Black Excellence in Cannabis to voice my opposition to House Bills 2263 /2361 (or Senate Bills SB 6085/ SB 6393). These bills are designed to disenfranchise Black Washingtonians, while unjustly enriching the WHITE 1% by allowing outside investors and additional regulation into the legal cannabis trade. We demand social equity and restorative justice in the WA cannabis industry. We need black-owners, less regulation, and more compliance education for legal marijuana businesses in Washington State. Please vote NO on these bills.

Please also share the information above with your networks and let’s work together to create the progressive and inclusive cannabis industry that We all deserve.

Thank you,

Aaron Barfield
Black Excellence in Cannabis


Watch this from Washington State House Commerce and Gaming Committee by a panel from Black Excellence in Cannabis. They need to allow for all Washington State residents left behind to get licensed and clean up the WSLCB first, especially from the minority communities most harmed and least represented at the table…
Must see TV…

Only the White Man Can Profit from Pain

Only the White Man Can Profit from Pain
by author and activist Saab  Lofton
http://saablofton.com/
Saab Lofton Channel on YouTube

“Nah, man, the government will never legalize drugs in America.  The  first reason they will never legalize drugs in America is because the government makes way too much money putting our brothers and sisters in fucking jail.  That’s first of all.  The second reason the government will never legalize drugs in America is because, God forbid,  some brown people got wealthy.  Can’t have that.  ‘Cause drugs come from brown countries.  We can’t have wealthy brown people.  There are  no wealthy black — or brown — people in America.  We got some rich ones, we don’t got no fucking wealth.  People go, ‘what’s the difference?’  Here’s the difference: Shaq is rich.  The white man that signs his check is wealthy.  ‘Here you go, Shaq!  Go buy yourself a bouncing car!  Bling-bling!’  I’m not talking ’bout rich, I’m talking ’bout wealth… One of the number one rules when it comes to acquiring wealth goes like this:  The  rule is, only the white man can profit from  pain.  So if you’re black or  brown, you can make money in America, you can prosper in America,  you can get rich in America, but whatever you decide to do, it better be  positive.  ‘Cause if one person is harmed,  you will be destroyed… White  man makes alcohol.  Tastes great, I love it, you love it, we all love it.  Kills  motherfuckers every single day.  Okay?  Some of y’all ain’t even make it home tonight ’cause of  alcohol… But it’s all right ’cause it’s all white. White man makes cigarettes, the most dangerous product known to man.  Cigarettes are so fucking dangerous, it kills motherfuckers that  don’t smoke… But it’s all right ’cause it’s all white.  Could you imagine if  the Philip Morris family was a bunch of jheri-curled niggers from  Mississippi?  Do you know how illegal a pack of cigarettes would be?  You would get sixty years just for a carton of Newports!”   –Chris Rock, from  the 2004 HBO comedy special, “Never Scared”.

I can relate.  I’ve been called “the  Tiger  Woods of  science fiction” by  Professor Sam E. Anderson (author of Black Holocaust for Beginners) as  well as “the  black Rod Serling” — not necessarily as flattery, but as dire  warning, for as Serling himself once wisely said…

“Television, like its big  sister, the motion picture, has been guilty of the sin of omission… Hungry  for talent, desperate for the so-called ‘new  face,’ constantly searching for a transfusion of new blood, it has overlooked a source of wondrous talent  that resides under its nose.  This is the Negro  actor.”  –The Twilight Zone  Companion

“Overlooked” is an all too polite way  of saying “passed over.”

I was asked to comment on systemic discrimination insofar as hemp/marijuana because I know for a fact it’s the case in science  fiction/fantasy, so…

Let’s start with the basics:  First, “white privilege” simply means the odds are on your side.

However harsh your lives may have been, Caucasians, the odds are, anyone resembling Halle Berry or Lenny Kravitz will have had it far, far worse and God help you if yo’ ass resembles Tracy Chapman or Yaphet Kotto (there’s  also such a thing as “lightskinned privilege” amongst blacks).

Likewise, the term “black tax” is similar in meaning to “the glass ceiling,”  whereby, again, the odds are you will have worked harder than your pale,  male rivals in order to prevail.

Far harder.

Second, the price of liberty is eternal vigilance because history tends to repeat itself whenever it’s forgotten, so don’t, as in, do not wait for some  “Age of Aquarius” moment whereby color will forever be barred from conversation.

If you’d never tell a survivor of World  War II’s Jewish Holocaust to “let it go,” then refrain from telling that to African Americans.  Silence slows (or  halts) the solving of societal problems, and countless lives are on the line,  so no one cares how embarrassing certain subjects are to discuss

In order words, black lives matter more than white feelings — so much  more, it’s now become all-important to remember that merely  being accused of racism is insignificant next to actually suffering from it.

Finally, Negrophobia is the fear of ethnic miscegenation (what accounts  for, say, Obama looking more like his black  parent than his white one) or of  being surrounded by dark skinned Humans who’re (presumably)  harboring revenge for past atrocities.

Negrophobia is in fact a form of criminal insanity (as I explain in my lectures, the Joker will kill over a joke,  the Cracker will kill over a skin) whether or not it’s actually acted upon (in either event, its protected by the  First Amendment just as the Flat Earth Society, the  nonsense of Alex Jones, et cetera) and it manifests itself in a  variety of  ways.

In my case, Negrophobia assumes this form…

“[White supremacist Milo] Yiannopoulos bragged about how rudely he  behaved to the ‘top execs’ and was as surprised as anyone when he landed a reportedly large advance of $250,000, according to The Hollywood  Reporter, which broke news of the deal:  ‘I met with top execs at Simon &  Schuster earlier in the year and spent half an hour trying to shock them  with lewd jokes and outrageous opinions.  I thought they were goingto  have me escorted from the building — but instead they offered me a  wheelbarrow full of money.'” –Jenny Pierson, AlterNet, January 4th, 2017.

M  E  A  N W  H I  L E  .  .  .

“Because Saab Lofton’s A.D. is one of the most exciting books to emerge  from a young black writer in years, its obscurity is all the more shameful.”   –Tony  Norman,  Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,  December  16th,  1997

ALL THE MORE  SHAMEFUL

“Lofton’s novel deserves a far broader audience than it has accumulated  thus far.”  –Darius James, New York Press, November 12th, 1997

DESERVES A FAR BROADER AUDIENCE

“It’s been hard to ignore the mounting evidence — the friends who were  pushed out of jobs… even if they were eminently overqualified … Most of  all, it’s the small moments of discrimination that are so insidious, they’re  hard to pinpoint.  In my career, I’ve been excluded from key projects that  were given to white women… often made fun of and called ‘defensive’ and ‘difficult to work with’ by white men and women.”  –Ruchika  Tulshyan,  The Seattle Times, September 20th, 2018

So a known enabler of the alt right tried to shock publishing executives with “lewd jokes” and was given “a wheelbarrow full of money” while my black ass is sleeping in the garage of a house with NO plumbing/electricity for the second winter in a row.  The odds are, someone as pale skinned as Milo will be given quarter of a million dollar advances even as I’m constantly told to “tone it down” by the civility-obsessed. It’s the system’s fault; it’s bigger than any one man.

And there’s no, as in, less than negative zero reason to assume the hemp/marijuana dynamic is supposedly free of such irrational duplicity.

In anything, I’ve been informed recently of at least one phenomenon whites and blacks will perceive very differently: Cannabis start-ups employing former policemen as frequently as security firms?!

Presumably this sick practice is designed to “confer legitimacy” upon cannabis businesses; to “assuage community concerns” whenever new locations are opened, which sadly places white feelings over black lives once again…

“I’m bothered by the fact that the government’s current plan is to bar people with pot convictions from participating in the huge marijuana economy that is now emerging. We have the expertise. We know how to grow high-quality plants. We have the distribution networks. The government’s policy is unfair, punitive and discriminatory. If it really believed in amnesty*, it would let people with non-violent records for possession lead the way … The government has turned the pot economy over to the people who lost the drug war: the cops and politicians who were responsible for destroying so many lives by turning pot smokers into criminals. They’ve been given the keys to the vault. They’ll be profiting from the same activities they used to prosecute. The hypocrisy is staggering … Amnesty* is not enough. It should include an apology for ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of people for no legitimate reason. They should be asking us to forgive them.” –Rosie Rowbotham, a former producer at CBC Radio, The Guardian (UK), June 6th, 2018

Rather turn the pot economy over to those “responsible for destroying so many lives” than turn it over to a bunch of niggers, huh?

Only the white man can profit from pain.

Saab Lofton was born in South Central Los Angeles, raised on the road as a “military brat” and graduated from Olympia, Washington’s Evergreen College. He’s also a cartoonist, an award-winning journalist as well as a novelist — in fact, his first novel (A.D., 1995, III Publishing) was endorsed by Professor Howard Zinn and it’s responsible for a Republican (Jon Hatchell from Alexandria, Virginia) becoming a socialist … As an “internet troll,” he personally led the charge to save Uganda’s LGBT community from certain death (thus saving half a million lives), fought past a fleet of libertarians in order to cattle prod the FCC into voting for net neutrality in 2015 and cyberstalked white supremacists since then until the Ku Klux Klan itself lost over fifty subsidiaries, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center … A documentary based on him — Saab Lofton: The Movie — is available on YouTube.