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"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."

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TIMELINE

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.

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THE BLUNT TRUTH

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.

[sidebar]

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


Source: Willamette Week (Portland OR)
Copyright: 2007 City of Roses Newspaper Company
Contact: mzusman@wweek.com
Website: Willamette Week | Thursday, December 13th, 2007
 
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