The Heritage Foundation: A Last Refuge For Reefer Madness?

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 thoughts

  1. No one likes to be told they are wrong, and these prohibitionists are kicking and screaming all the way down to their failed cause. A system built on lies that accomplishes the opposite of what it is intended to is a failure, and anyone who can’t see that is pretty ignorant. The ships sinking and the life boat is called common sense and reason, and if you don’t want to get on because a man in a suit said it will kill you, than you obviously don’t trust your own judgement.


    Richard Cowan’s point of view is spot on. Exposing the litany of lies nd the hypocrisy is what we must do. Check out the video on the link above where peaceful people protest at a store run by the State Liquor cartel in New Hampshire. Pages 2 and 3 on the Weeda Claus site have the liquor store video.

  3. The Heritage Foundation, and other like them, are going to end up in the minority. This guy’s “reefer madness” does not work anymore; it is old news (read: propaganda) and not savvy in the eyes of the public today. The public is well aware of stores selling marijuana brownies, lollipops and sodas with no social breakdown in society. Videos like this only hurt the opposition. It is just a matter of time before more and more so-called “conservatives” change sides and embrace this new marijuana Renaissance that is happening today. I would bet in less than 10 years, any surviving prohibitionists, like this guy from the Heritage ‘Thingy’ maybe, are going to look almost as bad as Ardent Nazis from the past.

  4. This bogus Cowan “scam” quote is such old news for anyone who has followed the legalization movement. Mr. Stimson is a fool. After Prop 19 passes, he and all the other delusional prohibitionists will be forced to confront the ineffectiveness of their lies. But mostly I’d just like to be able to grow this herb in my yard without fear of arrest, or be able to buy a bag of decent herb at the corner market for a price that reflects the actual cost of producing it rather than the outrageous mark-ups that reflect the entrenched official, irrational fear of a non-toxic plant.

  5. Guys not even good a propaganda, that video was edited so badly that a child could see it was skewed to the heritage foundations interests, yet another big organization bent on keeping and gaining more power at the expense of the people.

  6. Ok American Heritage Foundation, here’s what the founders said…

    “Hemp is of first necessity to the wealth and protection of the country”- Thomas Jefferson

    “We shall, by and by, want a world of Hemp more for our own consumption”- John Adams

    “”Make the most you can of the Indian Hempseed, and sow it everywhere.”- Goerge Washington

    THAT’S OUR HERITAGE !!!!, so take your liberty bell logo and shove it up your Oligarch asses…save your seeds, hide your weed people

  7. There is only 2 weeks to go before Vote Day. I don’t think many will be changing their minds in two weeks. Most people have made their minds up already. Even in big elections such as running for President, it is common knowledge that the last 2 weeks changes very little as most have made up their minds at this point. The focus for the last 2 weeks should be on turn out. Getting the voters to the polls. Putting plans in place for vote day to get every voter possible to the vote stations.

  8. Just watched an interview with the tom hartman who interviewed cully stimson over the phone.This interview was on free speech t.v..And I must say I usually do not agree with mr. hartman on most every issue.But on legalizing cannibas he handed the heritage foundations mr. stimson his hat in this debate.Mr. stimson used most if not all of the fear tactics and mr.hartman shot him down everytime.Truth will always win out over dishonesty.Right after this interview tom hartman interviewed jim gray the fromer judge and current ambassidor of L.E.A.P. very interesting interview.

  9. 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!

  10. “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.

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

  12. 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

  13. 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

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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).

  17. Well the word “Conseritive” is a word to decribe to elect the mordern day republican in office. Alot of the mordern day republicans are no more than Federalist inside of a Anti-Federalist party. They are funded by big corporations of America and don’t listen to the hard working people of this country. My comment on Prop 19 in California (Which I do live in Ohio) but my opion it would past and the states that has it for medical use, will go on and futher go on and legalize it for recreational use and the states has it for decriminalize will go on to medical use and the states that has regular pentalies would go on to decriminalize. I’m a old school republican that this “Drug War” is pathic and Bullshit.The Heritiage Foundation would winding up getting up roll up and smoke just like the DEA and the Drug Free America

  18. Wow, that guy thinks he is a libertarian. This is why the Libertarian party is such a joke. I like a very limited federal government, thus I tend to be libertarian-esq, but the LP is a joke and has been taken over by neo-cons (and probably always has). I refuse to judge anyone by party or ideology designation. I usually vote a mix of D, R and 3rd party and I scrutinize each politician on their individual policies/ideals. ANYONE who votes based on party is the reason for this nation’s demise.

  19. It don’t matter what scam the prohibitionists would like to shovel us next. We had 70 plus years of their lies and scams as they stuffed their greedy pockets.
    The evidence is in and piling higher with each day, no escape from the true, no not knowing the facts and medical evidence.
    Prohibitionists are tyrants who days are limited. Prohibitionists are traitors to the founding fathers and the Constitution. Their treason is on it’s way out, we will take back our country from these fools.
    Stay focus on Nov. 2nd and lets have a landslide vote in CA. Lets stay behind them, give them our support, because they are taking on that big ass bully that been push us all around. If we want the bullying to stop in schools, guess we better cut it out from where it started. Lets vote to remove power from the bully in Washington, called Congress. Lets vote yes in CA Prop 19 and help England, Canada, and the rest of the world out of this shitty mess the Fed. gov. put us in. Vote yes will aid us in bring back our liberty.

  20. This battle for what is sacred is new to this land which for over one hundred thousand years cultivated and respected the living medicinal plant. We are out of balance in our worship of the alcohol of violence called fire-water, while demonizing a harmless weed. We are in need of respect for that which has been sacred for the Indigenous, the Rastaman, the Chinese Shaman, the Buddha himself…
    For that which has been plastic biz, must be sacred again. We will remain out of balance if we continue to ignore that which was sacred to our ancestors.

  21. Its finally here; the showdown between the believers of the truths about cannabis and the self perpetuating, living in fear, prohibitionists. Let freedom ring—->>FREE THE WEED, CANNAPEACE

  22. “NEWS FLASH” Did you know if you sail far enough, you could sail right off the edge of the earth? Really…I heard it from this reliable source. Please warn all your friends.

  23. I believe that Cannabis should be legalized. People need to look at the positives. There is a reason is has been called the gift from the Gods. If it is legalized look at the benefits:

    1. There won’t be as many drunk drivers on the roads. As a previous alchoholic, my consumption of booze took a dramatic decline one I started smoking pot.

    2. There will be safer places to buy quality cannabis. Going through drug dealers is very unpredictable and dangerous because you never know exactly what your getting or how it was grown or stored.

    3. Cannabis is a very safe drug. One estimate of THC’s LD50 (lethal dose) for humans indicates that about 1500 pounds (680 kilograms) of cannabis would have to be injested within 14 minutes. This estimate is supported by studies which indicate that the effective dose of THC is at least 1000 times lower than the estimated lethal dose (a “therapeutic ratio” of 1000:1). This is much safer than alcohol (therapeutic ratio 10:1), cocaine (15:1), or heroin (6:1).

    4. Taxing Mairjuana would greatly increase the amount of money generated each year so that we could help pay off the national debt, build better schools, better hospitals, techonology, etc.

    5. People will be happier, because Cannabis is a natural anti-depressant and mood elevator for most users.

    6. Less violence. Not only will many people be in better moods, there will also be a huge decline of mafia, cartel and gang violence.

    7. People will be more creative! Marijuana is used by many (including myself) to promote creativity. Imagaine how many new inventions and products will become available because of the newly found creative insight that people never knew they had before!

    8. Tabacco sales will decrease! Tabacco is loaded with many different cancer-causing chemicals. These include gunpowder, cyanide and many other toxic concoctions.

    9. Cannabis is a natural multi-medicine. It helps relieve pain associated with headaches, backaches, arthritis, etc. It helps relieve stress, helps people with sleeping and eating disorders and much more! It’s even been shown to reduce certain cancers and help eliminate anxiety.

    10. It smells good. Cannabis has a particular smell to naturally attract certain animals and people. Some have even made colognes out of it and some use the smell of fresh cannabis flowers to bring calm and peace to the home.

    It doesn’t end there. There are hundreds maybe even thousands of reasons Cannabis should be given respect. There is no point in lying about something so wonderful. Many people are in jail for simply possesing this wonderful herb. It’s downright silly and something should be done.


  24. “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???”

    What is that supposed to say?

  25. scam he says.he tried to twist it didnt he.and i say, it was an awesome shot to mr. stimsons bag….our government is grabbin at straws and, has been for so many years. they have sided with certain groups to protect their intrerests instead of protecting our personal rights.i never knew the truth so well until i began folowing norml.happiness thru liberty i say……bad part is, ignorance of people who wont listen because im some kind of puke who only wants to be high….well…jaaa…i like to get a buzz regular.after 33 years of consuming the good herb off an on,i do not believe it has damaged my body near what alcohol an second hand smoke from cigs have done yet, are legal and supported by our government. i dont use it to get stupid high.that is a waste to me. altho, in the proper setting with friends on occasion it is truly a grin. im responsible with it. i dont push it on others, i just know it works for provides an inhanced life to me.i have a home and a great family.i pay my taxes and am a responsible and kind person….how many millions of others are in the same boat? good people smoke cannabis! people need to know facts like these because it may gain the much needed support of good folks who do not partake.
    peace to you all…..

  26. Editing out of context comments is an obvious shady political tactic. The fact that the extremely versatile, non-psychoactive strains of this plant are also illegal exposes the fraud that is Cannabis Prohibition.

  27. Is anyone really surprised that a “conservative” organization like this is hypocritical? I’ve never bought the “we’re for small government and individual freedom” line. Most conservatives I’ve met support the war on drugs, so they’re not for small government at all. They are for a government that does exactly what THEY want it to do—a pathetic and ridiculous position to hold in a diverse democracy.

  28. Reefer Madness is the first chapter in the fictional book “The Father of All Lies.” written by Anslinger, Hearst, and DuPont. There’s nothing stranger than fiction, or its authors.

  29. Ok falks this is consrtiv at it best. Know under they hat p.b.s so much.Concertvi hate for the truth to get out

  30. Who the hell cares what anybody thinks, or for that matter, says! If you think about what they have said, they have accomplished what they set out to do. We got the numbers. Think of them as a screaming child having a temper tantrum. Ignore them! They’re only tantalizing you to rise to anger. Fuck’em if they can’t take a joke.

  31. To me conservatism is not about smaller government and individual liberty. To me conservatives are anti-science and anti-science about more topics than just marijuana.

    Al Gore showed them up as exactly what they are. It’s an inconvenient truth, and they HATE him for it. Stubborn as well as stupid they then told us consensus was not part of science.

    Incredibly, Reagan and ‘Dubya’ both even used the bully pulpit to declare that the ‘door is still open on evolution’. Obviously they felt the need to ‘refudiate’ the idea.

    It all seems rather funny until you realize that conservatives have the power to influence our political elections. They treat ignorance and stupidity as a voting block to be courted. Mr. Cowan and his brand of ‘conservatives’ need to take back their movement from the obnoxious fools that have commandeered it. Otherwise the inane thinking that underlies marijuana prohibition will spread to all our government policies, an expensive proposition.

    Good luck to you, Richard.

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