By John Novak
(Olympia, WA) Recent public statements made by Senator Ann Rivers has the medical cannabis community in Washington State very upset, with many patients questioning her integrity on this issue.
Specifically, the uproar revolves around her comments at a press conference on whether a medical patient and advocate, James Barber Sr., was telling the truth in his testimony earlier that day on Senate Bill 5052, written and lobbied on by a group of I-502 licensees. This has been cause for great distress for Mr. Barber and the medical cannabis community.
The recreational cannabis Mr. Barber bought did, in fact, contain pesticides in spite of the Senator’s comment that he was only making the claims “for the cameras”.
“On January 22nd, I testified on the issue of pesticides being used on cannabis bought from an I-502 store, purchased on the advice of Senator Rivers. I showed the senate committee members the packaging does not have any warning labels (about pesticides) at all. I later found evidence from the producer’s website which clearly shows they used the 5 pesticides I testified to.” Mr. Barber’s testimony starts at 01:22:40 into the hearing which can be viewed here:
Many patients have expressed concern over Senator Rivers’ aggressive anti-patient stance, and her most recent belittling of a patient to attempt to perpetrate falsehoods to promote her “patient protection” bill is very disturbing, to say the least.
“I suggest re-assessing Senator Rivers’ involvement in any patient protection act legislation when she is more interested in protecting her district’s I-502 businesses at all costs. Even to the point of being aggressive and belittling patients and their legitimate concerns in a news interview,” said Barber.
Upon further research, we found an article published at the website, “The Reflector”, that reports on the grower in question during an interview.
The retailer, identified as “Carson”, selling this product from Agrijuana stated, “With Agrijuana, we know it’s all organic. There are no pesticides.”
He also claimed that, “People who purchase legal marijuana from a state-approved store will get a product that is more pure than that on the black market”.
Mr. Barber gave us the details of his experience.
On December 10th, opening day of the Cannabis Country Store, four grams of “Cinex” was purchased by Barber.
“I came home and started smoking the first gram. It didn’t taste like “Cinex”, but tasted off a bit. I thought it was just me and my screwed up medical conditions. So I finished it,” he said.
He then told us, “The next morning I woke up feeling kind of funny. So I opened the second package and began smoking it. Mind you, no warning labels of any pesticides are present on the product’s label. Then after a few minutes it hit me…and I got sick. My lungs started hurting, and I had a hard time breathing. I then puked.”
Mr. Barber stated, “I had a hard time breathing for three days. I stopped using that stuff and went online to research the producers website, if they had one to find out what the heck they are using to grow with. I found their website here: http://www.agrijuana.com and further review lead me here: http://www.agrijuana.com/varietals.html ”
“So I downloaded the PDF file for the product that was purchased. That’s where the pesticides were listed.”
You can also view the file for yourself here:
Mr. Barber made an appearance at Sen. Rivers’ public hearing on her latest bill, SB 5052, titled as the “Cannabis Patient Protection Act. He wished to point this out why recreational standards are not safe for patients or conducive with their health needs to the Senate Healthcare Committee of which Sen. Rivers is a member.
“I pointed out that prior to coming to the hearing, she attacked me instead of addressing the issues of her proposed bill she was getting ready to pre-file. She verbally attacked me at that first meeting which made me feel small.”
“So I took her advice to use a recreational store because, in her words, they are “safe access” and in “strict compliance with state laws”. She said I was basically a criminal if I didn’t,” he said.
In a press conference Sen. Rivers held after the hearing, she makes a claim against his credibility on whether what he presented to the committee had warning labels, that he only did it for the “cameras”.
“She made a false impression as so the media would ignore my calls from the wild and basically defamed me with falsity,” he said.
In response to the controversy, Green Buddha owner Muraco Kyashna-tocha of Seattle sent an email to Sen. Rivers, also sent to Mr Barber.
She states, “You were dismissive of Mr. Barbers’ claims and you continued dismissing his claims during the press meeting you held immediately afterwards. You claimed to be familiar with both the I502 label and you claimed knowledge that the producer (from your district)” grew organic” and thus you doubted Mr. Barber’s claims.”
“NO pesticides testing has yet been performed on any of the I502 product.”
She also stated that her own personal research has not found a single bud produced in a pesticide free fashion within the I-502 system.
“Thus when the Agrijuana producer claims “we know it’s all organic” “there are no pesticides” he is absolutely LYING. Quite disturbing to see a bill this heavily lobbied by business interests who obfuscate the truth,” she said.
“In fact, it would be illegal for him to claim it is “organic” as organic is a political term and we have NO organics program in the state for cannabis at all. Probably like Mr. Barber I wish we did.”
An article from November of 2014 by the Columbian titled, “Organic marijuana? How can you tell?” confirms the fact that no pesticide testing is done on I-502. It states, “I-502 in Washington requires a certain amount of testing, but it doesn’t cover many things – like pesticides – on the USDA list.”
The voters of this state did not pass I-502 to allow recreational businesses to get rich off the backs of medical patients. The Legislators of the state would do well to remember this simple fact.
Sen. Rivers needs to back away from trying to take the lead on cannabis issues as they relate the medical use. It is obvious from her comments about Mr. Barber and others who expressed serious concerns that she does not take this issue seriously. To do this after the first hearing on her bill has many wondering if she is the right person to be in charge of important policy reform issues.