It wasn’t that long ago that the 2012 Oregon attorney general race was still in it’s infancy. Dwight Holton and Ellen Rosenblum had announced their candidacies for the Democratic Primary, and yet again the Oregon GOP failed to field a candidate. Admittedly, I didn’t know much about Ellen Rosenblum at the time, but I knew exactly who Dwight Holton was.
Dwight Holton is one of the biggest anti-medical marijuana crusaders on the planet. During Holton’s two years as a federal prosecutor in Oregon, he lead a series of raids on medical marijuana providers in Southern Oregon Oregon, which deprived hundreds of legal patients of their medicine. Dwight Holton also sent harassing letters to law abiding Oregon collective owners. I personally read several of these letters from multiple collective owners who I know for a fact were following Oregon law.
As a medical marijuana patient in Oregon, I look at Dwight Holton as the ‘boogey man’ who is out to get people like me, simply because of the legal medicine I choose to consume. This is a feeling that is shared by the entire Oregon medical marijuana community, which is large. The state lists roughly 55,000 patients, but that doesn’t include caretakers, growers, and friends and family members of the program participants, as well as sympathetic supporters that have no direct ties to the program. When you add up all of those groups, and consider how we feel about Dwight Holton, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone why he lost today at the ballot box…but more of that later.
What a lot of people don’t realize is that it was one member of the Oregon medical marijuana community that ignited the successful mj opposition to Dwight Holton’s campaign. My friend Jim Greig is a very humble person, and will likely tell me to tone down the praise that I know he deserves, so I will use someone else’s words to describe how this whole thing started. Below is an excerpt from Simon Owen’s article on USNews.Com:
It’s no surprise then that Greig knew who Dwight Holton was when Holton announced earlier this year he was running for Oregon Attorney General to replace departing Democrat John Kroger. Holton had been interim U.S. Attorney for Oregon when federal agents executed search warrants on several marijuana farms in the state last fall. That and other actions from his office had irked medical marijuana and pro-legalization activists, including Greig, so Greig posted a message to a listserv of about 300 other activists suggesting that they begin publicly opposing Holton’s candidacy.”
Luckily for the marijuana history books, my obsessive compulsive disorder doesn’t allow me to delete e-mails except in the most extreme circumstances. I still have that very e-mail, which was dated March 17th. I replied very quickly that Ninjasmoker and I DESPISE Dwight Holton, and would love to do anything we can to help.
Between the three of us, we didn’t have money, but we did possess a unique skill set to help spread the word via social media and by old fashioned phone calls and e-mails. Plus we are friends with the leading minds in marijuana policy reform, many of which call Oregon home. I don’t want to list their names until I talk to them first, but know that if it wasn’t for some key advisors and a lot of teammates from the Oregon marijuana movement, the outcome of this race would have been undeniably different.
I remember the first meeting that we had with Jim, and a handful of conference calls with other activists thereafter, where we determined that this election was a political hustle. Dwight Holton and his campaign staff felt that if they could essentially buy the primary, it wouldn’t matter that Dwight Holton wasn’t a real Oregonian. Since there was no GOP candidate, by the time November came around and people wondered what was going on, it would be too late.
Medical marijuana opponents knew that if Holton won AG, he would control the Oregon court system, and therefore the administration of the OMMP. Without going to Oregon voters, he would be able to kill the voter approved medical marijuana program through the bureaucratic process. I have been saying this for almost two months now. The funny thing is, leading up to Dwight’s defeat, he was claiming that the mj community was trying to do the same thing but to get marijuana legalized…Nice try Dwight. Apparently this ‘stoner’ is a couple of steps ahead of your spin doctors :)
But Dwight Holton and his campaign staff underestimated one thing — the power of the truth. The Oregon marijuana community determined in late March that if we could just get as much attention to this thing as possible, by all means necessary, the truth would tell itself, and the election would change course. Keep in mind, in late March NO VOTERS knew what was going on with this election, and Dwight Holton had an enormous lead in fund raising. In a shorted election cycle, that dollar advantage was even greater than in an election that had a normal cycle. This race was ‘ho hum’ at best according to the media and the general public.
This is proven by the fact that Dwight Holton was endorsed by almost every major media outlet in Oregon and no one raised a stink about it outside of the mj community. Which leads me to a question that I have been asking about this race since the beginning — How in the F is the Oregon media endorsing a guy who didn’t become a member of the Oregon Bar until 2009 over a former judge (Rosenblum) that graduated from the University of Oregon…twice!?
I have read numerous media reports in Oregon talking about how drug reformers are trying to fix this race. It should be obvious who was trying to fix this race. Almost all of the media outlets endorsed Dwight Holton in Oregon, despite the fact that he has never tried a case in Oregon state courts, and is clearly only using Oregon as a stepping stool for his political career. I think Oregon citizens should demand an apology from the media outlets below for picking Holton over a REAL Oregonian in Ellen Rosenblum, as well as an explanation for why they are the ones that TRULY tried to fix this election:
Statesman Journal — Salem
Mail Tribune — Medford
Register Guard — Eugene
Central Oregonian — Prineville
East Oregonian — Pendleton & Hermiston
News Review — Roseburg
Daily Courier — Grants Pass
Beaverton Valley Times
News Times — Forest Grove
The Times — Tigard, Tualatin, Sherwood
The Outlook — Gresham
The Portland Tribune
There are three media outlets on that list that are the most disappointing to me. The Register Guard and Eugene Weekly have absolutely no excuse for endorsing Dwight Holton. Ellen is a hometown hero. What has Dwight Holton ever did for Eugene other than harass collective owners? Did I mention Ellen graduated from the University of Oregon in Eugene twice?? Did I miss something?
The other media outlet is the Oregonian, which operates Oregonlive.com. As loyal readers know, the ‘O’, as it is referred to here in Oregon, quoted me in an article that was a clear attempt at trying to spin the truth in favor of Dwight Holton. Below is an excerpt from an article titled, ‘An Open Letter From Johnny Green To The Oregonian‘:
“Earlier today it was brought to my attention that my home state of Oregon had an article appear on the website of the main news outlet ‘The Oregonian’ talking about the Oregon medical marijuana community’s vocal opposition to Oregon Attorney General candidate Dwight Holton. I want to thank ’The Oregonian‘ for taking notice of a very, very important issue. I have seen articles on CNBC, NPR, and other large media outlets such as ‘The Oregonian‘ popping up, and I couldn’t be happier. The entire nation needs to be aware of what’s going on.
I would like to clarify some things in Susan Nielsen’s article that I find inaccurate. Often when reporters cover medical marijuana related issues, they are not speaking from within the community, they are simply trying to capture what they observe in words. Let me be clear — I speak from within the Oregon medical marijuana community, but not for the Oregon medical marijuana community. I am a patient, and an activist, and I will fight Dwight Holton’s campaign with everything I have because it means that much to me.
I don’t have elite East Coast connections like Dwight Holton. I don’t have powerful friends with big piles of money that can be used to buy elections and try to swindle voters like Dwight Holton. But what I do have is the truth. And thanks to all of the loyal TWB readers, I also have a platform that I can shout at the rooftops from and apparently get people to notice (for better or worse). I feel that what my friends and I in the Oregon medical marijuana community have done with the anti-Dwight campaign is noble. We have received some flack inside and outside of the medical marijuana community, but fact of the matter is, it’s bringing awareness to an issue where there otherwise was none, and we are getting people motivated to vote when they weren’t planning on doing so.
Even after it’s apparent that this is a popular issue in Oregon, as admitted in the article, mainstream media continues to try to downplay it. Let’s dissect Susan Nielsen’s article piece by piece. I will put her words in bold, and my response below in plain font:
This is simply not true. Please listen to the audio clip at the following link, which is Dwight Holton’s own words at a Eugene campaign eventin which he says he will go against the will of the voters and go after the OMMP because it’s a ‘train wreck.’ If Dwight Holton supported the intent of Oregon’s voter-approved medical marijuana law, he wouldn’t have raided medical marijuana gardens in Southern Oregon, and he wouldn’t have sent harassing letters to law abiding collective ownersand their landlords. How Susan Nielsen could have missed that is beyond me…oh wait, she refers to it later in the article…even more mysterious how that quote above in bold snuck into the article…
“So yes, the two candidates show real differences of both style and substance on marijuana. Still, I’m not convinced their approaches as attorney general would wildly diverge. Holton says he would “happily enforce and uphold the state law,” which he says voters approved for compassionate reasons.”
Once again, listen to the audio clip at the following link, which is Dwight Holton’s own words at a Eugene campaign event in which he says he will go against the will of the voters and go after the OMMP because it’s a ‘train wreck.’ And once again, if Dwight Holton supported the intent of Oregon’s voter-approved medical marijuana law, he wouldn’t have raided medical marijuana gardens in Southern Oregon, and he wouldn’t have sent harassing letters to law abiding collective owners and their landlords.
“In true Oregon fashion, both appear more willing to join a conversation than lead a crusade.”
I sent Dwight Holton’s campaign an e-mail, as well as a follow up phone call that went un-returned asking him to ‘join a conversation.’ Guess what Susan Nielsen, Dwight Holton is full of you know what. If he really wanted to join the conversation, I’d welcome him now just as I did before, but I guarantee he will never accept because deep down, just as Susan Nielsen quoted me saying in her article, Dwight Holton is ‘one of the most raging anti-medical marijuana crusaders on the planet.’ Prove me wrong, with facts please… I provide links to my claims, not just words.
“If voters want those things, fine (in reference to dispensaries and legalization). Oregon will deal with it. But we could all stand to drop the euphemisms and aim for a more honest approach.”
The ‘honest approach’ is to tell Oregonians the truth instead of spreading false information that is easily found on the NotDwightHolton.Com and BeatHolton.Com websites that were referenced in your article. Even the article that Susan Nielsen quoted me from clearly explains the facts, which were not presented in Susan Nielsen’s article.
For anyone that is wondering how Ellen Rosenblum REALLY feels about marijuana policy in Oregon, I will include an interview that Ellen did for The Weed Blog. It always seems like people forget that this is out there, but luckily I don’t forget, and I provide links! Do you think that it’s weird that ‘The Oregonian’ would print such obviously inaccurate information?
I don’t. That’s because Susan Nielsen’s article posted at 6:12 AM on The Oregonian, on the same day that The Oregonian outlet endorsed Dwight Holton earlier in the morning at 12:47 AM. Hmmmm, coincidence? I’ll let readers, and those that are watching, decide. Shame on youOregonian, I hope you do a follow up piece telling the truth about what is going on here.”
I vividly remember writing those words from my hotel room in Denver. Ninjasmoker and I were at the High Times Denver Medical Cannabis Cup and to be honest, I was feeling a bit vulnerable. At that stage of the game we were obviously making a lot of noise inside of Oregon, but national groups had yet to step into the situation. I started making phone calls and sending e-mails like crazy to every organization that I could think of that believes in medical marijuana.
The requests were received with mixed reviews. I would never call out an organization directly, but let’s just say that some organizations were very happy to offer assistance to Oregonians, while others decided to debate me as to whether this is a real issue or not. It was a sad day in that regard, but it was a happy day in that far more organizations stepped up than decided to stay inactive. I remember landing in PDX the next day wondering if ‘they’ would be waiting for me when I got back to Oregon. I’m happy to report that I made it home safely :)
I didn’t come home to a federal agent reunion, but what I did come home to was a much stronger coalition of people opposed to Dwight Holton than I had seen before I left for Denver. Organizations like Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement, the National Cannabis Coalition, and the American Victory Coalition started running ads on the radio and placing ads in print media — the same print media that irresponsibly endorsed Dwight Holton just weeks earlier! See one of the ads below:
In addition to a ‘traditional’ campaign, all the while Oregon marijuana activists were waging what I would proudly describe as ‘dollar-for-dollar the greatest online political campaign in political science history.’ Between Google Ads, Facebook Ads, and social media submissions, this race literally went viral. This was in large part due to Students for Sensible Drug Policy Chapters in Oregon and beyond. This wouldn’t have been possible without their invaluable help. A big reason why I wanted to post this article is not just to celebrate Ellen Rosenblum’s victory (which is STELLAR!), but also to create a digital time capsule/mj activist guide in case another politician tries to do what Dwight Holton tried to do.
LET THIS BE A WARNING TO ALL MARIJUANA OPPONENTS — IF YOU RUN CANDIDATES LIKE DWIGHT HOLTON IN THE FUTURE, AND TRY TO USE SIMILAR CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES, WE WILL ALWAYS BE THERE TO FIGHT YOU WITH EVERYTHING WE HAVE.
We don’t have the dollars that elitist candidates have, and we don’t have control over mainstream media outlets like out of state candidates obviously do, but we do have numbers, and the truth, and more passion than opponents will ever give us credit for. Do me a favor marijuana opponents, keep thinking that we are just a bunch of lazy stoners. All the while the world is changing around you, and we are gaining momentum and doing BIG things to help the world!
As many people now know, the Drug Policy Alliance (DPA) donated a hefty sum to help Ellen’s campaign, and I couldn’t be happier! I remember talking to Tony Newman from my hotel room in Denver, and he was very concerned. I’m glad to see that concern turned into action to the tune of $140,000! Far more than I had envisioned and greatly appreciated by Ellen I’m sure.
But I also want to point out that had it not been for the anti-Dwight coalition, not only would that DPA donation had never come, but a lot of votes would never have come either. One thing that a lot of activists missed the point of, was that the anti-Dwight campaign was not about swaying undecided voters. It was about getting people to vote that weren’t planning on doing so otherwise. It’s an undeniable fact that the anti-Dwight campaign was very successful at that task, and that it won the election.
I know there will be naysayers that claim that I’m not telling the truth but let’s let math do the talking. The NotDwightHolton.Com site has received 2,529 page views and the Not Dwight Holton Facebook page has 610 ‘likes.’ The BeatHolton.Com site has received 2,775 page views and the Beat Holton Facebook page has 112 ‘likes.’ In a primary race there is almost always a low voter turnout. In this race, there was one of the lowest turnouts in awhile. Everyone of those page views and ‘likes’ was very significant.
Now consider the amount of web articles that went up about this race, from a purely ‘marijuana as an issue’ standpoint. I compiled a web library of sorts to illustrate just how much attention this anti-Dwight Holton campaign received, which is entirely as a result of the numerous hard working activists and organizations that made as much noise as we possibly could with the anti-Dwight campaign. I organized the outlets by the number of articles they posted, and like I said, these are just ones that resulted from the marijuana community. I will let ‘experts’ that aren’t part of the mj community compile their own list of non-mj articles…I assure you it’s not a very long list to compile:
The Weed Blog:
National Cannabis Coalition:
Citizens for Sensible Law Enforcement:
Doesn’t that list pretty much speak for itself? I consider this article a living document, so I will no doubt be adding more links to the list as I find them — these are just ones that I have been compiling. After looking at the math, I dare anyone to argue with me about the anti-Dwight Holton campaign. I would argue that made an ENORMOUS difference in this race. After all, mainstream media was against Ellen. I admit I’m biased because I’m an obvious fan of the internet and social media especially, but I think the facts speak for themselves. (I will add a social media submission list as well after a couple of days).
Before the mainstream media flip flops on their stance on this race, and ‘experts’ from outside of the mj community take credit for this victory, I want to make it clear that the mj community largely affected this race. Before we mobilized, Ellen was out fund-raised significantly, and had no traction in the media. Polls were leaning Holton. Zoom forward less than two months to election night and she’s giving a victory speech. That was made possibly by the mj community, both inside of Oregon, and outside of Oregon.
This was not the effort of one person, or one organization. It was the effort of a community. Medical marijuana is here to stay. This election proves that no matter where opponents try to battle the mj community, we will unite in opposition. This election proves that mainstream media and political strategists like Dwight Holton’s are out of step with the views of a majority of Americans. Hopefully now they will realize it’s time to start a constructive conversation and get real reform to benefit our great country.
Just as the marijuana community united to defeat Dwight Holton in the Oregon Democratic Primary, so will the marijuana community unite this Fall when Oregonians vote to end marijuana prohibition. I-24 has well over 100,000 signatures and will make the ballot by the July deadline. The ramifications of this election are already being felt all the way to Washington D.C., and throughout the mainstream media. This will no doubt continue into the future. This is a GREAT day my friends! Whether you live in Oregon, Florida, Maine, or California, it’s time to celebrate! Dwight Holton is packing his bags and going back to Virginia where he is really from! Hooray!!!!!