Nader Offers Words of Encouragement and Warning to Conference-Goers

By John Schroyer

Longtime consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader delivered both some tough love and an encouraging pat on the back to cannabis industry members during his keynote address at the 2015 Marijuana Business Conference and Expo on Thursday.

In a wide-ranging speech that covered everything from the uses of industrial hemp to how marijuana legalization could affect other arenas of political reform, Nader called cannabis legalization a “massive gift” to the public but also warned against industry corruption.

“Proper regulation is the best aspirin you could ever have, other than marijuana,” Nader said, to a ripple of laughter. “We’ve got to have standards of inspection, for, say, pesticides, for fungus, for rot. We have to have standards of advertising and truth, so we don’t get hit with lawsuits.”

And those standards, he said, must be set at a high level, firmer than those typically set by the International Organization for Standardization.

“You have the opportunity to do it right. There are people in your industry who have said, ‘We have to have regulation. The more uniform, the better,’” Nader said.

On top of that, Nader said it’s important for testing labs to be independent from the companies whose products they test, to ensure proper results and that there’s no possibility for corporate corruption. He pointed to the recent Volkswagen emissions testing scandal as an example of what can happen when a company is allowed to self-regulate.

“Why do you think this happened? It’s because under federal law, they allowed private labs to do the testing,” Nader said. “Watch out for control of these labs by your industry. That’s when the problems are going to start.”

The unifying theme of his address, however, was that the legalization movement can lead to a domino effect that can benefit society as a whole. The war on drugs, Nader said, has been a colossal failure that has ruined countless lives.

“This is the rule of law gone mad. It is pursuing objectives precisely the opposite of what the rule of law should produce. And it’s time to end it, once and for all,” Nader declared to cheers and applause. “It’s important that you broaden the legalization of marijuana as a gift to improve the criminal justice system.”

And with further loosening of marijuana laws may come news and research that could be bad news for the cannabis industry, Nader warned. He urged marijuana professionals not to hide from the truth if, for example, adverse health effects are ultimately linked to cannabis use, and pointed to the black eye the tobacco industry suffered when it tried to cover up research connecting cigarettes to cancer.

“Say what you want about marijuana, but it’s going to be studied a lot more than some of you may like,” Nader said. “Once it’s legalized, the universities are going to be freer to do medical research or impact research. So you really have to have an open attitude.”

The longtime activist also railed against the recent Ohio ballot initiative that attempted – but failed by a wide margin – to install a cannabis oligopoly in the state constitution. Nader called it “unconscionable,” and said it represents the precise opposite way of how marijuana legalization should be pursued.

“To put pay-to-play in an initiative that’s going to be law is a nightmare, and you should never allow that to happen,” he said. “If you’re going to free marijuana, you’ve got to free the people who grow it and the people who sell it, and not put in monopolies and oligopolies.”

John Schroyer can be reached at [email protected]

11 comments on “Nader Offers Words of Encouragement and Warning to Conference-Goers
  1. Lee on

    It is about time that Marijuana was Legalized
    all over the World.. Not just in the U.S.A.
    It could be the only way to bring true Peace
    to this troubled old World of Ours People !!!
    Just spread the Love all around our Planet !!!

    God bless You Ralph Nader !!!

    Reply
  2. Michael Augustine on

    Mr. Nader, it already pay to play….lax regulation to keep “it” clean and remember the cottage industry that helped these guys survive.

    Reply
  3. Mike on

    Some labs and dispensaries are already corrupt here in Oregon. Some dispensaries already created their own labs to test their own products. As a grower I have taken product to be tested to four different labs . Each lab test is completely different in the content. As a medical grower it’s dissapointing. As a business grower I just use the lab that gives me the highest THC numbers in my crop. Oregon let the dispensaries sell to the public before any regulations. Nader is right, capitalism without regulation causes corruption.

    Reply
    • Mike on

      Do you think this will change once the rules are finalized? I noticed that THC levels on packages seem much higher in Oregon than in Washington and figured there must be some sort of incentive for Oregon testers to come up with higher numbers.

      Reply
      • mike on

        The real answer is to have a state set of labs that everyone can use. The price should drop to cheap to encourage usage. Only with independent testing can we establish a baseline of facts to start from. Then we need to share the data and methods across state lines. Ralph Nader said it best when he talked.

        Unfortunately in simple consumerism higher THC means better product. Better product means mo money. Must be more capitalists in Oregon in the business.

        In Oregon more folks are over the hype and honeymoon of recreational cannabis. The landscape is starting to change. Edibles and concentrates have entered the market. Wholesale prices for growers are maturing and has some stability. Folks are actually starting to smell and recognize the terpenes and their association with essential oils in cannabis. The extract market here is starting to really take hold. THC numbers still reign, but I can see a future where other factors are more important to an individual tastes.

        Reply
  4. numbnuts on

    washington is going through the same growing pains. labs that can afford to have pesticide testing done with a triple quad mass spec. and a have a great science team will prevail the fast approaching storm. there is a lab ethics committee formed in Olympia monitoring these exact problems. i recommend Oregon does the same. price for a triple quad mas spec starts at $250k and $25k a year maintenance program.
    state of the art triple quad mas spec can reach $1M
    out with old in with the new……

    Reply
    • mike on

      Oregon coffers have the monies if they don’t spend it on regulation enforcement first. We need standards for the labs, agree completely.

      Reply
  5. Johnathan Aluitious Hempseed on

    What we need are certified organic growers and certified organic cannabis products.All pesticides should be banned,and only biological Integrated pest management allowed.Standards for proper curing to appropriate moisture levels will prevent bud rots and fungus.Also greenhouse and outdoor growing should be the norm to save energy over indoor lighted gro-opps. JAH

    Reply

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