Today was one of those days that I had to pinch myself because I felt so lucky. I got to attend a brunch fundraiser for legendary United States Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who has fought for the cannabis reform movement for a very long time, and continues that support as more states allow a thriving cannabis industry to exist by leading the charge in Congress. The fundraiser was hosted by the National Cannabis Industry Association (NCIA). Speaking at the fundraiser was another individual that led the charge for many, many years in Congress. That individual was former Congressman Barney Frank (D-MA).
I have never heard Barney Frank give a speech before, and definitely haven't heard him talk now that he is out of Congress. Mr. Frank was known for being outspoken in Congress, and now that he is retired I was expecting some particularly candid opinions to be shared. The speech was nothing short of epic. Barney Frank has a way of getting to the point extremely quickly, and in a way that leaves no doubt as to how strongly Mr. Frank feels about the subject.
He started off his speech talking about how he is more of a 'counter puncher' when it comes to debates, and that he always found it easy to debate the issue of marijuana prohibition because there was such overwhelming evidence that marijuana shouldn't be prohibited. Mr. Frank said something to the effect of the very thought that a plant should be prohibited even though it doesn't cause any harm to anyone else, and relatively no harm to the user, was 'completely stupid.' His delivery was so on point that everyone in attendance gave a standing ovation.
One thing that stuck with me about Barney Frank's speech is the multiple times that he thanked everyone in the room for implementing marijuana responsibly. Mr. Frank talked quite a bit about how marijuana reform and same sex marriage efforts had a lot in common. He pointed out that the main arguments for keeping marijuana prohibited had something to do with the 'what ifs' and 'maybes' and a bunch of other potential threats that 'could happen' if marijuana were to be legalized. Barney pointed out that Oregon, along with Washington and Colorado, have proven all of those made up negative consequences wrong.
"You have proven opponents wrong by doing this all responsibly. All of the negative things that opponents said would happen haven't happened, and that's because of the good work that is being done in this industry, including by people that are in this room, and I thank you for that." Barney Frank told the crowd.
Barney thanked the crowd, pointing out that now that there are multiple states operating regulated systems, that legalization will spread. A momentum is growing that is unstoppable. He was quick to point out that not every state will vote to legalize, and that the federal government would be removing federal prohibition soon, which doesn't necessarily legalize it at the state level. Barney Frank said, 'Unfortunately a state like Mississippi probably won't legalize, even though they likely need it the most since they live in a state like Mississippi.'
I was lucky enough to sit just feet away from Mr. Blumenauer and Mr. Frank during the brunch. Hearing both of them speak was truly inspiring, as was being surrounded by members of Oregon's emerging marijuana industry. I'm hopeful that those in attendance, as well as the rest of Oregon's marijuana industry, will continue to impress people like Barney Frank by being responsible members of these truly historic times. The future of the marijuana industry depends on it!