Pubdate: Wed, 12 Dec 2007
Source: Willamette Week (Portland, OR)
Page: Cover Story
Copyright: 2007 City of Roses Newspaper Company
Author: James Pitkin
Photo: Bud Might: Paul Stanford has carved out a path to become king 
of Oregon's pot jungle. [photo by leah nash]
Cited: Hemp & Cannabis Foundation
Cited: National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws
Cited: Oregon NORML
Cited: Voter Power
Cited: Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse
Bookmark: (Marijuana - Medicinal)


Paul Stanford Is Oregon's "Drug Czar." Now He's Under Attack.

Paul Stanford should be at the top of his game.

After more than two decades growing, toking and agitating to legalize 
cannabis, the 47-year-old Portlander is now running the largest chain 
of medical-marijuana clinics in the nation.

Stanford spends half his time jetting between home and Honolulu, Los 
Angeles, Denver and Seattle, visiting his clinics that have helped 
thousands gain medical-marijuana permits. His nonprofit, The Hemp & 
Cannabis (ahem, THC) Foundation, is on track to rake in $2 million this year.

His headquarters in Southeast Portland is the center of Stanford's 
dank ganja empire. On a recent Monday morning, the folding chairs and 
overstuffed couches in the waiting room were filled with about 30 
people--many looking as if they'd just rolled out of bed--who were 
busily scratching out applications for permits to toke.

If there is a kingpin of pot in Portland, it's Stanford--a man who 
can be credited with helping more people smoke legally here than 
anyone else. Of the 14,831 patients currently registered in the 
Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, Stanford estimates more than half, 
8,000, gained their license to burn with the help of his clinic.

"The goal of my life has been to end the adult prohibition from 
marijuana," Stanford says.

Oregon's medical-marijuana initiative, which Stanford helped pass in 
1998, brought him one step closer and landed Stanford's clinics on 
the national map.

"He's certainly well known," says Allen St. Pierre, director of the 
National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws in Washington, 
D.C. Stanford is also winning accolades--on Dec. 15, he's set to 
receive the Freedom Fighter of the Year award from Oregon NORML.

But all is not well in Stanford's green-tinted world. Even his own 
daily dose of the herb can't dispel the fact that his five-state 
operation--and his own reputation--is under simultaneous attack from 
three quarters, each one a potent buzz-kill in its own right. Taken 
together, they're like dirty bong water spilled on a clean set of sheets.

First, there's former Republican gubernatorial candidate Kevin 
Mannix, who's pushing a 2008 initiative that would eliminate most of 
Stanford's client base by killing Oregon's Medical Marijuana Program. 
"It's gone overboard, and yes, he's been a part of taking it 
overboard," Mannix says.

And then there's the Internal Revenue Service, which WW has learned 
is investigating Stanford for allegedly running his nonprofit as a 
personal slush fund. "This is a million-dollar organization that's 
being run like a lemonade stand," says Victoria Cox, spokeswoman for 
the state Department of Justice.

Finally, there are those within the movement itself who claim that 
Stanford and others like him are driving Oregon's medical-marijuana 
program in the wrong direction by running it as a thinly veiled 
commercial enterprise. "All they're doing is endangering this program 
for the very sick and disabled people who count on this medicine," 
says Jerry Wade, spokesman for the Stormy Ray Cardholders' 
Foundation, a Salem nonprofit promoting patient rights.

It's a treacherous time for Stanford, who nevertheless manages to 
shrug off his critics like an after-school DARE ad. A look at his 
past reveals that he's had his share of downers--a stint in the 
Oregon prison system, multiple allegations of fraud, even a bizarre 
plot by conspirators to take over his clinics.

Sitting recently at a Starbucks, sipping a seasonal drug of choice, 
an eggnog latte, Stanford was downright mellow about the world 
crashing down around him. "I'll keep carrying on," he says, "because 
I believe in what I'm doing."

Stanford is a chubby guy with a warm handshake and no small amount of 
charm--tools he employs to take a stranger or a roomful of people 
quickly into his confidence. He's a familiar face to many Portlanders 
from his weekly local-access cable TV show, Cannabis Common Sense . 
In 25 years fighting to liberalize Oregon's drug laws, he's smoked 
with just about everyone who matters in the ganja counterculture, 
including Willie Nelson, Woody Harrelson and Tommy Chong.

It becomes clear soon after meeting Stanford that he gives the lie to 
most stereotypes of a stoner. His memory is impeccable--he 
effortlessly rattles off dates (his first marijuana rally: July 4, 
1978), statistics (40 percent of his clients are low-income) and 
details, down to the lyrics of the song that was playing the first 
time the police kicked down his door in 1986 ("the future's uncertain 
and the end is always near," from the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues").

Despite his multimillion-dollar cannabis empire, Stanford doesn't go 
in for bling. His ride is a powder-blue 2007 Chrysler Town&Country 
minivan cluttered with stray Bob Dylan CDs, and he lives with his 
wife and three kids in a small rented house on a dead-end street in 

His weekends aren't exactly the stuff of a Biggie Smalls biopic 
either. Friday nights see him shuttling his kids to school events, 
then rushing to tape his cable show--where he reads the latest 
cannabis news, invites potheads to play guitar, interviews guests and 
gives advice on growing. It's the last bit that draws the most urgent 
calls from viewers--after three decades cultivating world-class 
cannabis, Stanford is an acknowledged expert who can rattle off the 
optimal amount of light to give a plant during vegetation (18 hours) 
or, more obscurely, the perfect angle at which to keep plants tilted 
during bloom (50 degrees).

True, being a drug czar sometimes interferes with family life. His 
wife--who, like Stanford, holds a medical-marijuana card and partakes 
almost daily--doesn't let him come to her office Christmas parties. 
She lives in fear someone will recognize him from TV and she'll be 
drug-tested at work.

The kids, who attend Mount Tabor Middle School and Franklin High 
School, know perfectly well what Mom and Dad are up to when they hide 
themselves away. But Stanford says they show no interest in 
experimenting with their parents' stash. "They're like all kids," he 
says. "They don't want to do what their parents do."

Stanford's 25 years in Portland have seen a string of hard luck and 
false starts. The Texas transplant attended Portland State University 
but never graduated, started a failed hemp-importing business, ran a 
string of unsuccessful campaigns to legalize pot, and supported 
himself by selling dope from illegal grows--getting busted twice and 
spending five months in prison.

But when the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act passed in 1998, Stanford 
saw opportunity and seized it. His window: Many doctors were wary of 
cannabis as medicine, and patients were afraid to ask their regular 
physician to sign for a medical-marijuana card. Stanford's plan was 
to hook up patients with sympathetic doctors. After meeting each 
patient and consulting their medical records, Stanford's physicians 
provide their signatures and Stanford charges a $160 fee--less for 
low-income patients.

With offices in five states, Stanford has more locations than any 
other medical-marijuana clinic in the country, opening in 2000. He's 
helped 24,000 people get permits, 18,000 of them in Oregon. In 
Portland, he was first on the scene. "I am always going to have a 
special allegiance to Paul, because when the chips were down, he was 
the only clinic there," says Dr. Richard Bayer, one of the original 
chief petitioners for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act.

Stanford's headquarters is a 5,000-square-foot building on Southeast 
Ankeny Street. It's clearly not a typical medical clinic. Psychedelic 
posters advertise Hempstalk, the annual outdoor dope fest Stanford 
puts on in Portland. His patients are a disheveled-looking crowd, 
mostly middle-aged. The spicy scent of unburnt bud wafts off the 
patients and Stanford's 12-member office staff--most of whom hold 
medical-marijuana cards themselves.

One of those patients is Jerry, a general contractor from Southeast 
Portland who did not give his last name. Gulping a Full Throttle 
energy drink in Stanford's clinic, where he comes to renew his permit 
once a year, Jerry said he started smoking as a teenager, went "from 
recreational to habitual," then got a medical marijuana card two 
years ago for chronic pain and hepatitis. Now he grows at home and 
smokes every couple of hours. "I don't believe in pills and I don't 
believe in drugs," he says. "Marijuana is not a drug."

Stanford's success depends on the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act. And 
that's exactly what Kevin Mannix wants to do away with.

Mannix, a wonkish former Democrat reborn as a tough-on-crime 
Republican, is a point person for Initiative 131. If it makes it to 
the ballot and passes, the measure would do three things: increase 
penalties for repeat sex offenses, increase penalties for repeat 
DUIIs, and nix medical marijuana. Instead, it would allow 
prescription THC pills, which patients say are too expensive and not 
as effective. Pending a court challenge, the campaign has not yet 
begun gathering signatures.

For most voters, the idea of locking up serial drunk drivers and sex 
offenders is a slam dunk. The question is whether support for medical 
marijuana 10 years after the law was passed is strong enough to 
justify a "no" vote on the measure. And that's an open debate, 
because there's no small number of people--from police to neighbors 
living next to large pot grows--who view the act as merely a legal 
front for stoners to get high.

"It's been hijacked by those who are legalization proponents to use 
the drug--not for medicinal purposes but for recreational," says Pat 
Donaldson, a founder of the Citizens' Crime Commission in Portland. 
And he sees Stanford as part of the problem. "I'm questioning his 
motives," Donaldson says. "What he is doing is legal. But he is 
ultimately enabling people who may not be in need of this."

Mannix's call to eighty-six medical marijuana echoes long-held 
concerns that the program is a safe haven for illegal growers. Oregon 
law allows medical pot permit holders to designate so-called 
"caregivers" who can grow up to six plants for each of their 
patients, but they are not allowed to sell. Yet police across the 
state have reported trouble with caregivers cultivating massive 
commercial grows.

Stanford himself is a caregiver for 20 patients, and he has indoor 
and outdoor grows in Southeast Portland. Among the strains he grows 
are White Widow, Crippled Rhino, Medicine Woman, Green Goddess and 
Strawberry Cough. And not surprisingly, he's already taking an active 
role in opposing Initiative 131, blasting the measure on his cable 
show and preparing to pile money into a counter-campaign.

Even if Mannix's measure fails to shut down medical marijuana, an 
ongoing IRS investigation could hit Stanford with the ultimate 
come-down--revocation of his foundation's status as a nonprofit.

Based on a tip by a former employee, the state Department of 
Justice's Charitable Activities Section began looking into the 
foundation's finances in 2005. After interviewing Stanford in May of 
last year, the state turned the case over to the IRS--a spokesman 
there declined to say when the probe will be completed.

In an interoffice memo obtained by WW , DOJ investigative auditor 
Douglas Pearson noted the following concerns about Stanford's foundation:

* The THCF board consists only of Stanford, his mother, and Tim 
Herman, Stanford's friend and handyman. They meet once a year.

* The nonprofit has no internal financial controls, with Stanford 
overseeing all income and disbursements.

* In 2006, Stanford received $100,000 to cover "personal expenses." 
(Stanford told WW he pays himself only $30,000 a year).

* Stanford pays no federal income tax for his employees and appears 
to have "serious and repeated violations of IRS regulations."

Stanford is convinced the government is cracking down on him in part 
because he opposes the war on drugs. Cox, the DOJ spokeswoman, says 
that's absurd. "An organization of this size needs professional 
management, and they have their corporate records in shopping 
bags--literally," she says.

Stanford denies any financial wrongdoing and remains convinced he'll 
retain his nonprofit status. "I haven't really worried or stressed on 
it because I haven't done anything wrong," he says.

The feds are predictable enemies of a man like Stanford. More 
surprising, and far more personal, are attacks he endures from within 
the pro-marijuana movement itself.

The most vicious come from Jerry Wade, spokesman for the Stormy Ray 
Cardholders' Foundation. (Stormy Ray suffers from multiple sclerosis 
and was one of the original petitioners for the Oregon Medical 
Marijuana Act.) Wade accuses Stanford of using his position as a 
ganja giant to push for legalization at the expense of patients.

"It completely discredits medical marijuana and gives ammunition to 
everyone who's against us," Wade says. "If you want to change the 
law, change it, but don't do it on the backs of sick and disabled people."

As a negative example of the way things might go in Oregon if people 
like Stanford have their way, Wade points to California, where 
commercial dispensaries have become clubs and boutique shops catering 
to wealthy college students--and too expensive for many sick people to afford.

Stanford doesn't hide his goal of legalizing weed. He's pushing an 
initiative for the 2010 state ballot that would tax and regulate the 
sale of cannabis to adults 21 and over, while providing medicinal 
dope at a nominal price in pharmacies. But he disputes Wade's 
criticism. "I'm absolutely against anything that would raise prices 
for patients," he says.

There are two other nonprofit clinics in Portland that specialize in 
hooking up patients with medical-marijuana permits--Voter Power, and 
Mothers Against Misuse and Abuse. Both are located in Southeast 
Portland and are headed by longtime associates of Stanford's. Their 
client lists don't approach Stanford's in size, and in the incestuous 
world of Portland pot politics, neither clinic's owner is a 
particularly big fan of Stanford.

John Sajo, head of Voter Power, professes respect for Stanford's 
business savvy--though their 25-year, on-again-off-again partnership 
campaigning for legalization and growing bud has at times been 
strained. Sandee Burbank, head of MAMA, says she's known Stanford 
"for too many years"--that is, since the 1980s. "He's misrepresented 
to me, lied to me and stole," she says. "I don't want to go into it."

The success of the Oregon Medical Marijuana Act in 1998 prompted 
Microsoft millionaire Bruce McKinney to try to legalize dope in 
Washington state. In 1999, he gave Stanford $100,000 to start a 
campaign--but in a federal lawsuit filed in Portland the following 
year, he claimed $63,000 disappeared while in Stanford's hands. A 
judge found McKinney's claim was mostly right, and in 2003 he ordered 
Stanford to pay back $39,000, including $4,200 Stanford had allegedly 
spent on a Ford Thunderbird. Stanford says he never paid.

McKinney--now a real-estate developer in Silver City, N.M.--blasted 
Stanford in an email to WW . "Basically, Paul Stanford is a thief," 
McKinney wrote. "He makes a living taking advantage of drug reformers 
and stealing their money. There is some debate about whether Stanford 
is consciously a crook...or if he is a sincere reformer who just 
can't separate his own personal interest from the interests of the 
organizations he works for. Either way, he has a long history of 
deceit and betrayal."

Stanford takes issue with McKinney's lawsuit, but he acknowledges 
that it occurred during what Stanford recalls as his darkest period. 
On top of the court battle, Stanford filed for bankruptcy multiple 
times in 1999 and 2000, his house was foreclosed on in 2001, and his 
wife temporarily left him that same year.

Then, in 2005--in an event that ranks as bizarre even in the Stanford 
chronicles--the normally tranquil atmosphere at his clinic was 
interrupted when Rochelle Leveque, a former receptionist at the 
clinic who had been fired three weeks prior, arrived with her 
attorney, Frederick Smith, in tow. Stanford says the two tried to 
take over the clinic and change the locks, then left after police arrived.

Leveque was working with a man named Daniel Keys, who was down in 
Salem at the Secretary of State's office that same day registering 
the name The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation--Stanford had failed to 
reapply with the state to keep the name. He lost a lawsuit against 
Keys to get the name back and has since changed the foundation's 
official name to THCF.

Leveque, who died in September of a heart attack, was the daughter of 
Dr. Phillip Leveque, the clinic's first doctor until he lost his 
medical license in 2004 for qualifying patients for the 
medical-marijuana program without seeing them in person. Dr. Leveque 
confirms his daughter planned to turn the clinic over to him after 
ousting Stanford. "I knew more about the damn thing than he did," Leveque says.

Don DuPay, a marijuana advocate who worked at Stanford's clinic for a 
year starting in 2006, says chaos prevailed. "He's always one step 
away from disaster," says DuPay, who lost a run for Multnomah County 
sheriff in 2006. "Bouncing payroll checks is one of the things that 
pissed me off. He's too unstable for me to be around."

Whatever his detractors say, it's clear Stanford is determined to 
maintain his empire. He's considering buying property for his 
patients' marijuana grows in east Multnomah County, and next year he 
plans to open a new clinic in Nevada. "I'm going to keep helping as 
many patients as I can," Stanford says. "We keep growing."



1980: Stanford enrolls at Evergreen State College in Olympia, Wash., 
where he gets involved with the pro-marijuana movement and joins 
Abbie Hoffman's Yippie party.

1982: On summer break in L.A., Stanford crashes in the blacklight 
room of a headshop owned by "Captain" Ed Adair, a famous marijuana 
crusader. There Stanford learned about Oregon's voter initiative to 
legalize marijuana, which did not make the ballot.

1984: Stanford moves to Portland, where cannabis icon Jack Herer 
writes portions of his seminal pro-ganja book, The Emperor Wears No 
Clothes , in Stanford's house on Southeast 34th Avenue and Hawthorne Boulevard.

1986: Stanford leads a petition drive to put legalization on the 
state ballot. Vice President George Bush and first lady Nancy Reagan 
tour the state in opposition, and it loses with 26 percent of the 
vote. Stanford says proceeds from sensimilla he grew were the major 
source of funds for the initiative campaign.

Cops raid his four grow houses and bust down the door at Stanford's 
girlfriend's place to find him smoking a joint. Stanford is sentenced 
to five years of probation and a $7,500 fine.

1991: Stanford does five months in prison on a probation violation 
for visiting China (a violation of his sentence) and getting busted 
for possession at the U.S. Capitol, where guards searched his camera 
bag and found three-quarters of an ounce. When he showed his fellow 
inmates a picture of himself in the marijuana magazine High Times , 
Stanford says he was treated "like a guest of honor" in prison.

1992: Stanford starts Ropewalk Paper&Fiber with seed money loaned 
from Steve Orgel, owner of the House of Hemp in downtown Portland. 
The company, which imported legal hemp products from China, goes 
belly up, and Orgel sues Stanford. A judge rules in 1996 that 
Stanford owed Orgel $24,000, with interest--a sum Stanford admits he 
never paid back.



When famous Oregonians first--and last--Smoked pot.

Darcelle XV, Portland's most famous transvestite "It was at one party 
in 1971. I went to sleep and missed the party. And that was it. 
Didn't want to miss any more parties."

Kevin Mannix, backer of an intiative to kill the Oregon Medical 
Marijuana Act "I follow the U.S. Navy's policy of nuclear weapons on 
its vessels: I do not confirm or deny. I don't engage in discussion 
in these kinds of questions...whether Bill Clinton wears boxers or briefs."

Lee Montgomery, editor of Tin House Books and 2007 Oregon Book Award 
winner for The Things Between Us "That's just so irrelevant. The last 
time was probably 1975. The first time was probably 1969."

John Callahan, syndicated cartoonist "The first time was when I was 
14. I didn't think I was stoned the first time, but we were sitting 
watching some cows in a field. It came to a culmination when we were 
driving and I leaned my head out the window and made the sound of a 
sheep as we were passing a herd of cows. I had gotten the salutation 
wrong, and everyone laughed at me. I couldn't quite figure out why. 
And then I had a bad LSD trip when I was 18. It scared me so badly 
that I think that's the last time I smoked pot."

Bill Sizemore, political activist "I never smoked pot. But let me 
tell you this story: I was a park-ranger aide during a rock festival 
in 1970, I believe it was. I had to go around and make all the people 
outside the fence pay to stay in the state park. Every tent I went to 
I got a very strong whiff of marijuana smoke every time I pulled back 
the tent flaps. I never got a buzz. I didn't see how they could 
breathe it. I grew up around the drug culture, and I was curious 
about it but never drawn to it."

Mary Starrett, former AM Northwest host, Constitution Party candidate 
for governor in 2006 "First time I was a senior in college in Boston. 
The year was 1975. The next time I smoked pot was in 1983. Both times 
were horrible experiences. Someone told me there must have been 
something in what I smoked. It was just very oppressive, very 
disturbing. It was almost terrorizing. I must be THC-sensitive. So I 
never tried it after that because it wasn't something I enjoyed."

Storm Large, actress and singer "First time was in seventh 
grade....last time was about a week ago...and the next time will be 
when I go to Zoolights."

Patty Wentz, acting spokeswoman for Gov. Ted Kulongoski "The governor 
is very busy dealing with the disaster response. We can get back to 
you with an answer to this question after all the people in Vernonia, 
and Tillamook, Lincoln and Clatsop counties are taken care of. Until 
then, we're heads down."

John Doussard, communications director for Mayor Tom Potter "My guess 
is that Tom isn't going to see much utility in participating in this."

We also left messages with U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.); 
Democratic U.S. Senate contenders Jeff Merkley and Steve Novick; 
state Sen. Kate Brown; city Commissioners Sam Adams, Randy Leonard, 
Erik Sten and Dan Saltzman; ex-Mayor Bud Clark; Pink Martini's Thomas 
Lauderdale; Brian McMenamin, Portland LumberJax owner Angela 
Batinovich, and Beavers owner Merritt Paulson. They did not return 
our calls by the time WW went to press.


Stanford's pain from an Army knee injury qualifies him for a 
medical-marijuana card, which he uses to inhale high-grade skunk from 
a vaporizer most nights before bed. A vaporizer heats buds to convert 
the active ingredient, THC, into a mist. The user then inhales the 
pure drug without the harsh smoke.

This year, an assistant U.S. attorney in Yakima, Wash., tried to 
subpoena records for 17 of Stanford's patients--an attempt Stanford 
defeated in court with the help of the ACLU.

Stanford's local-access cable TV show airs Fridays at 8 pm on Comcast 
Cable Channel 11.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimates there are 
300,000 regular marijuana users in Oregon, which has a population of 
3.7 million.

To qualify for the Oregon Medical Marijuana Program, patients must 
have been diagnosed with one of the following: Alzheimer's, cancer, 
hepatitis, glaucoma, HIV/AIDS or another condition that causes 
nausea, severe pain, seizures, muscle spasms or cachexia (loss of appetite). 
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MAP posted-by: Richard Lake