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Seedsman Photo Cup: Meet the Judges – Paul Stanford

The 2019 Seedsman Photo Cup is well underway and we have received an unprecedented number of entries so far.

The first prize draw of the year takes place in just four weeks time and the winners will be decided by a panel of expert judges, led by renowned cannabis cultivator and author Jorge Cervantes.

Over the next few weeks, we will be introducing you to the Judges who will be deciding which entries are worthy of some HUGE prizes.

Our first confirmed judge is Oregon based Paul Stanford.

Paul Stanford

Paul has been a cannabis activist for over 40 years. He was the director and spokesperson of the 2012 campaign to legalize marijuana in Oregon, Ballot Measure 80.

An organic cannabis grower, Stanford has won many awards in Oregon for the quality of his medical marijuana. He has given away over 3,000 kilos of free medical marijuana to sick and dying patients since 2001.

In 1999, the now 59-year-old founded THCF, The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation and began working with doctors to help medical marijuana patients obtain state authorisations.

Ahead of the first Photo Cup prize draw, we sat down with Paul to unravel more about his life and what he wants to see from Seedsman Photo Cup entries…

What was your first interaction with cannabis growing up and was it something you have always wanted to be involved in?

My first recollection of marijuana is as a boy in Texas in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

In elementary school, a police officer would come in every year or two with several drugs in a little wood and plastic case. They showed the movie, Marihuana: Assassin of Youth. This was before the DARE program. They said marijuana was a dangerous drug that would hurt us. However, before I was in junior high school I had heard from my friends’ and their older brothers and sisters that this wasn’t true.

A poster for the 1937 film ‘Marihuana: Assassin of Youth’

The first time I smoked marijuana was when I was 11 years old, in 1971 or 1972. I was at a babysitter’s house and her 26 year old son smoked some marijuana with me in her garage. He had recently finished his service in the US Army and Vietnam. I tried it several times with him when he visited his Mother and she was babysitting me. I remember laughing and feeling good. 

I found cannabis made us feel good and share a communal happy feeling with friends. I read some books and articles discussing marijuana and discovered that everything we were taught about marijuana were lies.

Subsequently, I would smoke cannabis with other kids, which was usually procured from someone’s older brother.

Back then, in Texas, all cannabis was from Mexico. We bought ounces, then called “a lid,” for $10. Once I got some Acapulco Gold for $15 an ounce, which was yellowish and had a sweeter flavor. When I was 13 (1973 or 1974), I saved up my money and bought a pound for $110. I smoked most of it with my friends, but sold some.

I remember some fun parties and once rolled a two ounce joint with a huge rolling paper that came in Cheech & Chong’s album, Big Bamboo.

Cheech and Chong’s album Big Bambu, equipped with a giant rolling paper.

When I was 16-19 (1977-80), I made about $100-$200 a week selling marijuana, plus a couple of ounces a week to share with friends. In the late 1970s, it mostly was Colombian Gold or Colombian Santa Marta Red, and was heavily seeded flowers. Every bag was 50 percent seeds by weight. I bought it for $350 a pound and sold $35 ounces and $20 half-ounces and $10 quarters. We ate and planted the seeds, and all our shirts got little burn holes in them from popping seeds flying out of the ember of smoking joints.

I first smoked sinsemilla in Orlando, Florida in 1978, and it was called Gainesville Green, from the University of Florida.

When I was about 12 or 13 (1973), a friend of mine and I found a plastic tub full of dozens of Playboy magazines in the trash heap in an alley near our home, Of course, we had a prurient interest in the magazines, and I also read all the articles with great interest.

In Playboy magazine in the 1970s, the Playboy Foundation announced that it financially supported a new group, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML). I became a teenage NORML supporter, though I didn’t join until the 80’s, and would later become the Washington State NORML Director, 1982-85.

The advertisement spotted by Stanford in Playboy Magazine c.1975

I found books and articles in my school and public library that gave us factual information about marijuana. In 1975, I bought a copy of a book, The Marihuana Papers, a compilation edited by David Soloman, that contains studies of marijuana and its effects, historical papers on its use from ancient times to 1968, from Baudelaire, De Quincy, Ludlow to 60’s writers like Timothy Leary, Ginsburg and Bowles. I also was influenced by another book, A Child’s Garden of Grass, by Jack Margolis. I reread these books several times and sought out other information on cannabis.

I found that marijuana laws were being used against anti-war, environmental and progressive activists to stop political change. I felt inspired by marijuana and our community, and felt then, as today, that marijuana legalization and hemp fuel, fiber, food and medicine restoration will usher in positive social and environmental changes.

In 1976 and 1977, I read news articles and saw TV news accounts about the White House smoke-in, a marijuana legalization protest organized by the Yippies! , or Youth International Party, which is still held annually in Washington DC on the 4th of July weekend.

I attended the White House Smoke-in on July 3rd and 4th, 1978, a week after my 18th birthday and met Dana Beal,  Dr. Tod Mikuriya and Aron Kay, who are among my mentors that I continued to work and learn from in the coming years.

An activist was born. I was never in the closet.

Was the 2012 campaign to legalize marijuana in Oregon one of the most challenging tasks of your career?

The 2012 campaign was a challenge. I was the primary funder, spokesperson and legally responsible party of Oregon’s initiative and, between 2008 to 2012, I spent $2 million dollars of my company’s and my money to legalize marijuana through Oregon’s initiative petition process.

At the time in 2012, the Marijuana Policy Project spent $3.5 million to put an initiative on the ballot in Colorado, Amendment 64, and the Drug Policy Alliance spent over $6 million on Washington State’s I-502.  But I had been working on marijuana legalization and petitioning since 1984. 

Hailed as ‘The Fighter’ by Oregon Leaf, Paul was at the forefront of the 2012 campaign to legalize cannabis in the state.

I began working on initiative petitions in Oregon in 1984 when I moved to Oregon from Washington State to work on the Oregon Marijuana Initiative. In fact, a few other activists came to Oregon in 1984 to assist the OMI and a dedicated team of marijuana activists led by John Sajo and Dr. Fred Oerther.

I first met Jack Herer in Los Angeles in 1982 while on Summer break from The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington, while I was working on Tom Hayden’s campaign for California State Assembly.

In 1984, Jack Herer, Doug McVay from Iowa, Jeannie Lange and Alan Silber from New York and I went to Oregon to help OMI. We made the ballot by order of Oregon’s Supreme Court in 1984, but had the Secretary of State remove it the next day and it was obviously a dishonest removal.

Herer, McVay and I moved to Oregon in 1984 and we worked to put it on the ballot in Oregon; we qualified for a statewide vote in Oregon in 1985, for a vote in 1986.

That was the second time in US history that a state voted on whether to legalize marijuana. The first time was California’s Prop 19 in 1972. By odd coincidence, California’s 2010 marijuana initiative, which was the third time a state voted to legalize the use of marijuana by adults, was sequentially also numbered Prop 19.

The first state to vote on legalizing medical marijuana was California in 1996, Prop 215, which was the first pro-marijuana initiative vote that won. In 1986, the whole federal government, directed by President Ronald Reagan and his cronies, attacked us at the OMI campaign in Oregon, but that’s another story.

I learned a lot and sacrificed a lot in the 2012 campaign and other petition campaigns, but I am proud of our accomplishments. The work continues and I think that the future of freedom for humanity and life on our planet hangs in the balance.

Can you explain a little more about The Hemp and Cannabis Foundation and what it does for the canna-community?

I founded The Hemp & Cannabis Foundation (THCF) as an Oregon nonprofit in 1998. THCF has a companion political committee, CRRH, or Campaign for the Restoration & Regulation of Hemp.

Initially, THCF was started to support our weekly TV show, media and printed publication, Hemp News. I started a weekly TV show called Cannabis Common Sense on cable TV in Portland, Oregon in 1996, and we are still producing weekly episodes today. We have produced almost 1,000 episodes.

Paul hosting his weekly television show ‘Cannabis Common Sense’.

In 1998 & 1999, we won many web design award for our site, including Netscape’s What’s Cool, Project Cool/DevX’s Sighting, and even the British Medical Journal’s Website of the Week.

I began posting hemp news to the Internet in 1991, before the web and Graphical User Interfaces. Everything online was text-based DOS until the web rolled out in 1994.

I found news on cannabis through CompuServe’s Executive News Service starting in 1988. In 1991, I began posting stories from it online to Usenet news groups and bulletin boards that still exist, like alt.drugs.pot ,  misc.activisim.cannabis and alt.hemp .

In 1998, Dr. Philip Leveque joined to co-host our weekly TV show, along with a local attorney and activist, Paul Loney, and me.

In Oregon in 1998, we followed California’s 1996 lead and legalized medical marijuana. When medical marijuana became legal in Oregon in May 1999, patients started to show up at our TV studio before our live cable TV show to have Dr. Leveque sign their paperwork to qualify as a medical marijuana licensee so they could legally possess, use and grow it.

Soon, it became a thriving business and Dr. Leveque and I opened an office for medical marijuana patients in Portland in 2000. It grew quickly. We opened an office near Seattle in 2001, in Hawaii in 2002, in Denver in 2003, then California, Arizona, Montana and, Michigan.

Paul with Dr. Philip Leveque. Together, these two men opened clinics in 60 cities to help those in need obtain medical marijuana permits.

We have opened clinics helping medical marijuana patients in 60 cities in 9 states with the help of 48 different doctors helping over 270,000 sick and dying patients in America obtain their state’s medical marijuana permit.

Today, we continue to see patients to help them obtain their state’s medical marijuana permit, I still grow and give away free medical marijuana and FECO/RSO, and we still produce our weekly TV show. 

You have given away thousands of kilos. of free medical marijuana to those in need over the past 18 years. Does it frustrate you to see big Pharma and other corporations getting involved in the industry for the sole benefit of profit, or are you simply glad that cannabis is taken more seriously now?

To be able to help thousands of sick and dying patients find relief with cannabis and from tyrannical laws is a blessing. I am blessed to help them.

However, yes, it is the corporate theft of our culture that is most deeply disturbing. For me personally, I am locked in a court battle with a Canadian-Israeli petrochemical corporation, formerly known as Adira Energy. Trial in civil court is scheduled soon.

I have been cheated and robbed by a powerful corporation spending millions of dollars on their attorneys to take me out politically and financially. I am working to expose these corporate raiders’ lies and will work to win until I prevail.

I am glad of our progress, but there is a lot more to do around the world for global cannabis freedom. I believe cannabis is a bellwether issue for the future of freedom for humanity.

With the advent of artificial intelligence and the corporate state, we need to expand natural individual rights to include the right to freedom of consciousness, and that includes the right to get high as long as you harm no one else.

We need to grow high-THC cannabis for seed oil to replace petroleum for fuel and plastic to reverse global warming and pollution. The residual protein from pressing the seed oil for biodiesel fuel, plastics and food will create excess protein to wipe out world hunger, and the fiber will replace trees for paper and building materials, and replace much cotton and synthetics fabrics for canvas, rope, lace and linen.

A diagram explaining the potential uses of the cannabis plant in all its forms.

Cannabis is the oldest crop, first cultivated by people over 25,000 years ago. We need weed’s seed! Cannabis is the most productive crop for food, fuel, fiber, medicine and fun. We need to restore hemp, the oldest and most productive crop, for the future of all life on Earth, to save what’s left of our most precious legacy, our planet’s biodiversity for future generations.

What were you more nervous about the first time round – the first episode of Cannabis Common Sense or your first speech at a canna-conference?

Oh yes. I was really nervous when I first did a college radio show at WLOZ-FM at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington in 1980, and then at KAOS-FM at The Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington. I was always nervous at first and it showed in my shaking hands, occasionally quivering voice and sweating brow. I had some things I thought were important to say though, and still do.

When I first spoke in front of 20,000 people at the Great Midwest Marijuana Harvest Festival in Madison, Wisconsin in 1988, and in front of 50,000 people on the main stage at the Seattle Hempfest twenty years ago, I was quite nervous.

Seattle Hempfest, where Paul spoke to a 50,000 strong crowd in 1998.

I still get nervous sometimes, but I also enjoy it a great deal. I have some important messages that I want to share and the feeling of connecting with many people, often hundreds of people, or sometimes tens of thousands, on TV or in a speech is exhilarating.

Debating the anti-marijuana control freaks is very personally rewarding too, especially since we have all the facts and science on our side.

Cannabis motivates and inspires me. Humanity has co-evolved with cannabis for over 25,000 years and it is critical that humanity’s symbiotic relationship with cannabis continue to evolve for the benefit of us all.

You are a Judge for the 2019 Seedsman Photo Cup. What do you personally want to see from the entries? What would catch your eye?

Trichrome production, flower quality, lighting, camera focus, and photo composition are the key elements I am looking for. I am a photographer since I was teenager and took photos for my college paper at The Evergreen State College.

I am looking forward to seeing some great photos and am very glad to work on judging this with my old friend, Jorge Cervantes. I first met Jorge when I moved to Oregon in 1984 and his book, Marijuana Horticulture, was my most important resource in learning to grow high quality marijuana in the mid-1980s.

I think I was the first person to tell him it was my bible in 1984, and now it says it’s the ‘grower’s bible” on the cover.

I am looking forward to judging the 2019 Seedsman Photo Cup! Contestants: make lots of photos, turn in your best and may the best, most beautiful cannabis flowers and their growers win!

Enter the Seedsman Photo Cup now!

Paul in his Garden.
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