By Steve Elliott of Toke of the Town
Medical marijuana advocate and businessman Paul Stanford, in an exclusive interview with Toke of the Town, has responded to a negative article by The Associated Press which on Sunday described his life as one "of error, missteps and regrets, one laden with betrayals and failure."
Portland-based AP reporter Nigel Duara called Stanford and The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation (THCF) "the nation's leading gateway to the drug," even going so far as to label him a "Dope King" in the headline and to refer to his supporters as "dope enthusiasts" who regard Stanford as "something of a savior."
So, how did we get back to 1970s or even 1960s style "evil weed" journalism in the blink of an eye? Wasn't yesterday supposed to be the start of a new year? Aren't we in the second decade of the 21st Century?
Apparently, only some of us are.
"When cornered, time and again, Stanford wriggles his way out," the article tells us, without really exploring the salient point that "wriggling out" of allegations can also must mean you were innocent.
Duara, the reporter from the AP, first started talking to Stanford about this time last year: "During the first couple weeks of January last year," Paul told Toke of the Town Monday night.
"At that time he called a competing clinic, the MAMA clinic here in Portland, run by Sandee Burbank," Stanford said. "I have a long history with Sandee, going back to 1984. Between 1984 and 1996 I actually donated about $12,000 to her Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse (MAMA). She asked me to pay $1,000 for a media tour on legalization in Oregon.
"Then I went and was with Woody Harrleson in Kentucky in Lexington in the last few days of May 1996, and was there when he planted hemp seeds on June 1, 1996," Stanford said. "When I got back to Portland the first week in June, Sandee told me she was going to keep the thousand dollars, she wasn't going to put on the media tour, and if I said anything about it, 'I was going to regret it,' " Stanford said. "Since then, she has been out trying to destroy me."
?(It should be noted that Sandee Burbank denies pretty much all of that, especially owing Stanford any money.)
"The people that are quoted in there know each other," Stanford told me. "After they talked to Sandee Burbank, she called Bruce McKinney and got him to call the reporter.
"McKinney, who was quoted in the story, didn't loan me any money," Stanford said. "He donated me money. He asked me to give money back that he donated and I had already spent. After I set up the Washington Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp, he went and set up a competing organization with a similar name, the CRRH of Washington."
(It should be noted that Bruce McKinney denies pretty much all of that, especially donating Stanford any money.)
"For each one of these people who had bad things to say about me, they literally could have gone to thousands of people I have helped," Stanford told me. "I literally give away free medicine." (This reporter personally knows this to be true; Stanford's foundation, THCF, gives multiple pounds of free cannabis to patients every year.)
"And they made the one guy who said anything nice about me sound like a crazy guy," Stanford added.
"They mentioned the one check that had bounced that I gave to the CRRH," Stanford said. "They didn't mention the other 25 checks amounting to more than $100,000 that didn't bounce."
A CIA Hit Piece?
According to Stanford, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) has admitted there are more than 1,500 reporters in the United States on their payroll. "These people get paid to tell the government's lies -- in addition to whatever they get paid from the media outlet that pays them," Stanford told me.
"I'm thinking this guy has got to be one of them," Stanford said. "Now, I could be wrong, but I think this guy is one of those 1,500 reporters paid by the CIA."
"It makes me suspicious when somebody writes a hit piece like that," Stanford said. "I mean, the whole first sentence says I have lived a life of failure of regret, laden with betrayal; I don't feel like that. Nobody I know feels that way about my life.
"The article has a definite point of view that they wanted to portray, and that's what they went after, I guess," Stanford said.
"I just feel ashamed, and like I've been slandered," Paul told me. "I could go and sue Sandee Burbank, and I could go sue Bruce McKinney, because they both lied," he alleged. "I could sue them, but that would be a huge waste of money.
"That's why people tell you not to get into politics and religion," Stanford said with a rueful laugh. "I'm going to keep up the campaign."
Paul told me that he tries not to take the misinformation campaign very personally, because he feels it ultimately isn't aimed at him -- it's aimed at preventing passage of the Oregon Cannabis Tax Act (OCTA 2012).
"It's definitely about targeting our industry and trying to discourage any contributions or support, and to make it tougher for us to win with Oregon voters by making me look like some ruthless profiteer," Paul told me. "Nothing could be farther from the truth.
"I'm not ruthless; I try to run a successful business and that means making enough money to pay my bills and expenses," Stanford said. "I haven't personally enriched myself at all.
"I've lived in the same rental house for the past seven years," Stanford revealed. "As of today, the first of the year, I have less than $300 in my personal banking account and less than $1,000 in my personal savings account.
"That is my entire life savings.
"Other than that, my bottle collection is my only real asset on this planet," Stanford told me. "I'm just a broke guy living in a rental house.
"I grow and give away free marijuana," Stanford said. "That costs our organization about $100,000 a year. That's not out of my personal money; that's out of the organizational money. And that's something we'll continue to do."
Full disclosure: Toke of the Town editor Steve Elliott is friends with The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation director Paul Stanford, and has appeared on Stanford's Cannabis Common SenseTV show. THCF is an advertiser on Toke of the Town.
Article From Toke of the Town and republished with special permission.