⚕️ » How The Heritage Foundation Used Newsweek to Recycle Lies About My “Medical Marijuana Scam”

A long time ago, I was asked by someone new to the marijuana controversy how they could tell the difference between a prohibitionist and an anti-prohibitionist website. And who can they believe?

It was actually very easy. A prohibitionist website never links to an anti-prohibitionist site. Anti-prohibitionist sites are dedicated to demonstrating the lies in prohibitionist propaganda. Consequently, we have to link to the DEA and its front groups, like the Heritage Foundation, so readers can see for themselves that, yes, they really said that, and we can prove that they are lying.

In 2010, for some reason the Heritage Foundation, (Heritage.org) decided to attack me based on a “scam” from 1992. It was published in one of their subsidiary publications, The Daily Signal. The High Priest of Medical Marijuana By Cully Stimson. 

I wrote a long reply to their column, but they didn’t respond or print it, of course. However, my old friends at NORML.org decided to publish my response with a little context.

The Heritage Foundation: A Last Refuge For Reefer Madness?


Last week the Heritage Foundation embarrassed itself again with an online essay from Cully Stimson, where Mr. Stimson abandons his and the Foundation’s supposed conservatism and free market principles in favor of maintaining the untenable bureaucratic ‘sacred cow’ of the federal government’s expensive, Constitution-twisting and self-evidently failed eight-decade-old Cannabis Prohibition.

Stimson’s “proof” that medical cannabis is a scam…an Andrew Breitbart-like edited videotape taken by rabid prohibitionists in the early 1990s which sought to ‘expose’ the supposed great medical cannabis hoax.

Stimson’s and the Heritage Foundation’s pathetic attempt to propagandize against the ending of Cannabis Prohibition (gee, do you think the pending passage of Prop. 19 has the Reefer Madness-types nervous?) will likely be as successful as the ‘medical marijuana is a hoax’ videotape was at stopping over a dozen states from adopting medical cannabis laws, imprisoning medical cannabis patients (the Drug-Free America Foundation actually sent a copy of the videotape to federal judge Charles Breyer just before he was going to sentence cannabis cultivation expert and activist Ed Rosenthal…to one day served) and deterring a future President from supporting medical access to cannabis, which is to say, not at all.

Take a moment to read Stimson’s rant and watch the video here (no longer online at Heritage), then, read the strongly-worded rebuttal below of Stimson’s ironic target for his pro-federal government and anti-free market propaganda: co-founder of Young Americans For Freedom, Yale graduate, Texas oilman, capitalist, William F. Buckley confidant and former NORML director Richard Cowan.

To the Heritage Foundation:

Richard Cowan responds to “The High Priest of Medical Marijuana” by Charles “Cully” D. Stimson. October 12, 2010

“I am the Richard Cowan cited in this absurd posting. And yes, I am very proud to say that I was once the National Director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML).

However, there are two more facts about me that I want Heritage readers to know before addressing the substance of the issue.

First, I am also a founding member of Young Americans for Freedom, and like most of the founders, I was – and still am – a libertarian. I do not now nor have I ever thought that freedom is a “scam”, nor do I believe that lying is either necessary or acceptable in the struggle against the omnipotent state.

Second, I am also the author of an article, “THE TIME HAS COME: ABOLISH THE POT LAWS”, published in the December 6, 1972 issue of National Review. Bill Buckley said, “”I flatly agree with him.” In fact, Bill wrote very frequently in support of legalization over the years.

Something else he said makes a point that Heritage completely misses:

“One of the problems that the marijuana-reform movement consistently faces is that everyone wants to talk about what marijuana does, but no one ever wants to look at what marijuana prohibition does. Marijuana never kicks down your door in the middle of the night. Marijuana never locks up sick and dying people, does not suppress medical research, does not peek in bedroom windows. Even if one takes every reefer madness allegation of the prohibitionists at face value, marijuana prohibition has done far more harm to far more people than marijuana ever could.”

Was Buckley a part of this “scam”? And what about George Shultz? Or Milton Friedman? Or most of the current editors of National Review, and many other prominent conservatives? Or Ron Paul?

Or do you prefer the company of Diane Feinstein and Barack Obama?

Now for the substance of the charge that in 1993 I said that medical marijuana or legalization or whatever is a “scam”:

What could it prove, if I really had said that? It may seem to me that it proves nothing more than that I was – perhaps still am – both evil enough to tell a dumb lie and stupid enough to announce it as such in public.

In short, the video proves nothing whatsoever about either medical marijuana or legalization, but I think it does prove something about the profound intellectual dishonesty of anyone who may try to use it for that purpose.


At a conference on medical marijuana and LSD (about which I had no comment) I was asked whether NORML, which was founded with the stated goal of ending marijuana prohibition, had abandoned that objective and was only working for medical marijuana.

My answer was intended to reassure everyone that our goal had not changed, and to explain how I thought that proving the value of medical marijuana might help us. As I said, having marijuana used by a large number of people under clinical supervision could refute the “reefer madness” prohibitionist propaganda that supported the massive state violence inherent in the “Drug War.” Of course, I had clearly under estimated the intellectual dishonesty of people like Mr. Stimson.”

These conferences are always open to the public, so apparently someone from a prohibitionist group, possibly Mel Sembler’s Drug Free America Foundation was there with a camera. (I assume that is where you got the video. Google: ‘Mel Sembler’  + ‘Straight Incorporated’, and then re-reread what Buckley said.)

Shortly after the conference, the statist propaganda mills began to claim that I had said that medical marijuana is a “scam.” Oddly, even the heavily edited version of the video does not support that interpretation. If one listens closely, I said that the “whole scam will be blown.”

Could I really be dumb enough to say that our position is a “scam” and then say it could be “blown”? And then we are still clever enough to pull off the scam???

Of course, thanks to the editing you cannot hear me saying in the next sentence, “I mean what we know is that marijuana prohibition is the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on the American people…”

If that seems hyperbolic, consider that 17 years later a prominent think tank that claims to be “based on the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense” is still pushing third rate collectivist propaganda based on dishonest editing and absurd arguments in support of a disastrous scam that undermines individual freedom, blocks scientific research, destroys the political stability of a vital neighbor, circumvents property rights and due process, funds terrorists, and subverts the rule of law.

And you call yourselves “Conservatives”?

But, six years later, I was recycled this same publication, Newsweek.

SEE: Is GW Epidiolex Better Than The CBD Products That I Can Buy Online?

“Would it surprise you to know that there already are three FDA-approved THC drugs and that at least five more are on the way? We suspect so, because the pot pushers—those that push smoked and edible marijuana as “medicine”—don’t want you to know about these safe alternatives.

Some of those FDA-approved drugs have been around since the 1980s.

That’s right—the dirty little secret they hide from you is that you don’t have to smoke marijuana, eat it in a brownie or chew it in a marijuana-laced gummy bear to reap the medicinal benefits of THC.

We can thank Ed Rosenthal and Richard Cowan for creating the current public perception of the so-called “medical marijuana” marketplace. In a video filmed many years ago, which we highlighted in this 2010 blog post, Rosenthal (former editor of High Times magazine) and Cowan (former director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Law) joked about the nationwide “scam” they had started. They realized that if they convinced enough people that smoking marijuana was “medical marijuana,” that would be the beginning of a movement toward full legalization.”

By the way, Kay Coles James, the President of The Heritage Foundation “served under President George H. W. Bush as Associate Director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy.” (The Drug Czar’s Office) Past tense??

On a personal note: If anyone really believes that I could convince sick and dying people to stop using effective pharmaceuticals and persuade them to risk arrest and death for something illegal and ineffective…. then you may believe anything. Heritage is waiting for you. 

  • Richard Cowan is a former NORML National Director and writes about the benefits of CBD Oil on various blogs.

Richard Cowan

CBDSeniors.com co-founder is long-time marijuana legalization advocate, Richard Cowan. Cowan’s December 1973 cover-article in the late William F. Buckley’s National Review magazine, calling for American Conservatives to support marijuana legalization drew international attention the absurdity of marijuana prohibition and was described as opening a new front in the drug war.

In The December 6, 1986 issue of National Review, Cowan’s cover article, How the Narcs Created Crack, is credited with introducing “the Iron Law of Prohibition” and became the subject of a book on the economics of contraband, the stronger the drugs.
From August 1992 to August 1995 Cowan served as executive director of NORML. Cowan decided to help found CBDSeniors.com because the remnants of marijuana prohibition continue to block access to CBD in many areas, and prohibition makes standardized testing more difficult. He also wants to de-stigmatize the cannabis plant to senior citizens who were fed lies and misinformation throughout their entire life. Cowan now lives in Europe where he works with marijuana legalization activists.

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Richard Cowan

CBDSeniors.com co-founder is long-time marijuana legalization advocate, Richard Cowan. Cowan’s December 1973 cover-article in the late William F. Buckley’s National Review magazine, calling for American Conservatives to support marijuana legalization drew international attention the absurdity of...