In Memory of Peter Lewis
by Mary Jane Borden
December 5, 2013
The passing of a billionaire hardly goes unnoticed and Peter Lewis is no different. In drug policy circles, on either side of the fence, he needs no introduction. At age 80, Peter died in his Florida home on November 23, 2013. He will be remembered for far more than just his money.
I’d like to say that I knew Peter, but in truth, I never personally met him. Yet, in the six degrees of separation, we’re only one degree apart. He had probably seen my name many times, and I, his. He knew some of the same people well who I know well. However, the times that I could have met him, I made other choices.
The 2001 Drug Policy Foundation Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico serves as but one example. On the expansive hotel staircase leading to the ballroom in which Peter would be speaking, I encountered one of my new reform colleagues (now a long-standing and trusted friend). “Come upstairs with me and meet Peter Lewis,” he urged. Bedazzled by all of the famous faces I had met that weekend, I nodded, yes. But my heart lay elsewhere – the trip to Albuquerque served the dual purpose of being a celebration of my 25th wedding anniversary. I could meet Peter Lewis, or leave with my family. I chose the latter. That one degree of separation remained in place. Later, I incidentally learned that, instead of me, Peter met with Rob Kampia, the Executive Director of the newly formed Marijuana Policy Project (MPP), who presented him with a business plan that, over the course of coming decade, would spend millions of Peter’s money on marijuana reform.
Those funds were transformative. Peter headed a Fortune 500 company, and he brought his business-focused acumen to what had heretofore been a loosely knit, poorly organized, largely clandestine and consequently tainted “movement.” Through MPP, he established a competitive grants program driven by business principles like goals, objectives, milestones and budgets. The winners weren’t those with the loudest bullhorn, rather the best plans.
How do I know this? For ten years, I was the grant writer for DrugSense/MAP, a perennial MPP grant recipient. Peter built better and more effective organizations by tying his funds to specific deliverables, much like any business would. DrugSense and many other marijuana reform-focused organizations benefited not only from an infusion of capital, but also from the structure and vision that Peter imposed. All told, 17 of my MPP grant applications were funded for a total of more than $700,000; I understood that Peter hand-picked every one of them.
Either by himself or through MPP, Peter also funded numerous ballot initiatives such as those in Washington State (2012 - $2 million), Massachusetts (2012 - $246,000), Arizona (2010 - $240,000), California (2010 - 218,000), Michigan (2008 - $1.8 million) and Montana (2004 - $555,000).
While these measures were largely successful, Peter wasn’t necessarily happy with their outcome. Some victories were bittersweet.
In Montana, an aggressive crackdown by U.S. Attorneys produced 33 convictions. It, combined with a hostile state legislature that would have overturned the initiative were it not for a gubernatorial veto, decimated the state’s fledgling medical marijuana program. Similarly, the implementation of Michigan’s measure was largely left to a hostile legislature, while the state’s Attorney General, who led the opposition during the election, has fought tooth and nail against it post passage. The strict restrictions in Arizona’s initiative – banning home grows, for one – winnowed the patient pool down from original estimates that exceeded 100,000 to around 40,000 presently.
Peter even put funds into Ohio reform, only to be disappointed by the failure of the “Treatment in Lieu of Incarceration” ballot initiative in 2002 and by five languishing legislative bills.
But he never completely forgot his home state. In 2011 as reported in the Columbus Dispatch, Peter issued an RFP “to include drafting ballot language, qualifying for the ballot, building an organization, communicating with voters, and raising money." Peter’s business principles were again self-evident – goals, objectives, milestones and budgets – with one exception: legacy. The RFP placed equal value on best practices and a sustainable model that could be used in other states. With one degree still separated from him, this grant writer sent a proposal, only to have it rejected like all of the other submissions. A wise man, Peter. It was not Ohio’s time.
Peter’s influence continues in the form of the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment. Unlike any other ballot initiative in the country or perhaps the world, the OCRA focuses on the right to make use of the Cannabis plant in its many forms and creates a commission to craft regulations and oversee the rollout of this burgeoning industry. The co-authors of the amendment, me among them, looked at the failures in Ohio and other states to craft a measure that could both serve as a model and lay the groundwork for smoother implementation, two key requirements of Peter’s RFP. The Ohio Rights Group is building the organization to pass this measure based items in the RFP such as best practices, grassroots mobilization and a strategic plan that defines goals, objectives, milestones and a budget.
They say, as goes Ohio, so goes the nation. When the OCRA passes in 2014 and the nation follows with the total repeal of cannabis prohibition in 2016, all of this and more will have been accomplished in memory of one man, Peter Lewis, separated from us now by another place and another time.
For those interested in legitimate therapeutic cannabis and reemergence of industrial hemp this event should not be missed.
You are invited to join us for a wonderful Ohio Rights Group celebration featuring 2 stages and 4 bands along with policy experts and many ORG leaders, offering Q and A sessions to help provide more clarity about our initiative, what it does exactly and what it means to you.
We feel strongly that the Ohio Rights Group belongs to you, so come on out and enjoy this great gift and let us all meet each other in person.
During the holidays, many people find ways to help those less fortunate. That mission is a year round calling for the Ohio Rights Group. Passing the Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment would provide healing for our most afflicted, provide jobs to the unemployed and usher in a healthier more prosperous Ohio.
Our farmers, veterans, elderly, sick, imprisoned and unemployed would all be afforded a better life though your generous contribution. We ask that you consider the Ohio Rights Group as one of the non-profit charities that you will support this holiday season.
The Ohio Rights Group would like to wish you a safe and joyous holiday season and a prosperous New Year. Let’s win this in 2014, so all Ohioans can have a chance at a safer, happier and healthier life.
John Pardee, President
The Ohio Rights Group
Wall Street Journal News Department Press Release | October 11, 2013
Medical Marijuana Inc.'s HempMedsPX Retains Medical Marijuana Industry Icon Cheryl Shuman as a Brand Ambassador
Medical Marijuana Inc.'s HempMedsPX Retains Medical Marijuana Industry Icon Cheryl Shuman as a Brand Ambassador
Shuman and HempMedsPX(TM) Participate in Ohio Rights Group (ORG) Tour October 10-20, 2013
SAN DIEGO, Oct. 11, 2013 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Medical Marijuana, Inc. (OTC Pink:MJNA) is pleased to inform shareholders and the general public that HempMedsPX(TM) -- a corporate portfolio company of Medical Marijuana Inc. and the exclusive master distributor and contracted marketing company for CannaVest Corp. and Medical Marijuana, Inc. -- is honored to announce that HempMedsPX(TM) has retained Cheryl Shuman as a brand ambassador. Cheryl Shuman is considered to be one of the most visible women in the medical cannabis reform movement and was awarded 2013 Activist of the Year at the Seattle Hempfest. READ MORE
FOX 45 News | November 6, 2013 | by Deborah Linz
Examining Potential Benefits of Medical Marijuana
DAYTON -- In 1996, California was the first state in the U.S. to legalize marijuana for medicinal purposes.
Supporters in Ohio hope it becomes legal in 2014. Critics claim the drug is harmful and addictive, but those with debilitating medical conditions say marijuana makes all the difference in their quality of life.
Grass, pot, ganja, weed... different names for the same substance, Marijuana. Twenty states plus the District of Columbia have passed laws legalizing marijuana for medicinal purposes. Ohio hopes to become the 21st state.
A woman we'll call Mary prays it passes.
Mary is a 63-year-old grandmother suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.
She has a hard time breathing, walking and suffers from very painful spasms. Everyday tasks like gripping utentsils or drinking a glass of water are very challenging. She takes 18 pills a days and says the meds often make her violently ill.
Mary was introduced to marijuana as an alternative treatment for her symptoms few years ago.
"Thought it's here and I'll try it. And if it doesn't help, forget it, but it did," she adds.
And with no debilitating side effects.
John Pardee of [Oberlin] is on a mission. He is fighting to legalize medicinal marijuana after his son was nearly killed in a car accident and doctors said his son would be on pain meds the rest of his life.
"You know I as a father had to realize this was safest long term therapeutic product to ease his pain that will have the least amount of side affects for duration of life," says John.
John founded the Ohio Rights Group and is hoping to get an amendment on the ballot in 2014 legalizing medical marijuana in the state.
The Leaf Online | November 11, 2013 | by Jane Hash
Ohio takes aim at 2014 with popular initiative
The Ohio Rights Group, headed by John Pardee, is leading the Buckeye State toward legalizing Therapeutic Cannabis and Industrialized Hemp. This swing-state has until July 3, 2014 to gather 385,247 valid signatures from registered voters to get their Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment (OCRA) on the ballot.
This is based upon the requirement to have 10% of the last governor's election statewide. Of that, at least 44 counties of the 88 are required to have at least 5% valid signatures based upon the last governor's election. As of the beginning of September, they had gathered approximately 30,000 signatures.
This grassroots effort has gained the support of several NORML chapters, hundreds of dedicated volunteers, and some rather influential friends including Mimi Peleg and Cheryl Shuman. Both ladies are fierce Cannabis activists who were born and raised in Ohio.
Peleg is now Director of Large Scale Cannabis Training for MECKAR, Abarbanel Hospital, in Israel. In July of this year, she was the keynote speaker at an Ohio Rights Group event in Youngstown, Ohio where she focused on current Cannabis research she is involved with as well as her experience with policy implementation.
Shuman’s area of specialty however, is Public Relations and Marketing. In October, this self-proclaimed “Martha Stewart of Marijuana” made the most of her media savvy skills while doing a ten-day Ohio tour with the Ohio Rights Group to help promote their campaign.
Ohio Cannabis Rights Amendment Highlights
Accords Ohio residents age 18 and older, who have a debilitating medical condition and meet eligibility requirements, the right to use, possess, acquire and produce Cannabis (marijuana). Children may qualify with the written consent of a parent or guardian. Eligibility will be initially tied to a list of over 30 debilitating medical conditions, which can be expanded.
Permits eligible individuals or organizations to grow, process and purchase therapeutic Cannabis in various forms such as whole plant, tinctures, edibles and salves.
Allows commercial production, distribution and taxation of both therapeutic Cannabis and industrial hemp.
Permits eligible Ohio residents to cultivate hemp for thousands of uses: paper, fuel, foods, building materials, clothing and more. Declassifies hemp as a drug and delegates its regulation to the Ohio Department of Agriculture.
Jane Hash is a Certified Natural Health Professional who empowers students across the country to make healthy life choices. She hosts the “Holistic Vitality Education Channel” on YouTube, the “Hash It Out With Jane” podcast available on iTunes, and blogs for The Mobility Resource.
Three Counties Meet Their Minimum Signature Requirements
Good news! Three counties have met their required minimum totals for signatures: Lucas, Marion and Hocking. Way to go you guys! The Toledo chapter has really stepped up and solidified our first major county effort and we couldn't be more proud. And Marion and Hocking are doing amazing things for being such small chapters. Way to go teams! The map below shows the target minimum signature totals needed for ballot placement in each county. We will soon begin posting our progress by county so everyone can see how far each county has come and how far to the finish line. The counties with green stars have a county captain in place and you can contact that person by clicking on the county and you can also find the local Facebook page through this map too. Any county without a green star needs a captain, so if you live in one of these counties and want to take the lead, please contact our county captain regional coordinators. Keep up the great work Ohio. United we win!