by Jeremy Kaufman
For a person that is rarely short of words it always ruffles the feathers a bit to find yourself speechless. This “speechless” situation has even delayed this newsletter a bit. Since the Kettle Falls trial, I have yet to find the words to describe the experience of giving testimony as a Cannabis Professional and, thereby, playing a small role in those monumental proceedings. But this newsletter cannot wait, so I will try my best find the verbiage to share with you the most terrifying and gratifying challenge I faced in my already colorful life.
I am an educated risk taker by nature. I’m not prone to succumbing to fear, which isn’t always a good thing. I have jumped out of planes, raced cars and motorcycles, started businesses, broken my neck, beat opiate addiction, even taken on our local and federal government by getting a business license and paying taxes as Washington’s first Cannabinoid Therapy Research and Development firm in 2009. But by comparison, my role in the Kettle Falls trial was easily the largest risk, the scariest moment, and a defining point in my career. Only in retrospect does it feel like everything I have endured, and everything I have learned, led me to that moment on the stand. It is my humblest hope, since it’s too early to see the true fallout of my actions, that I effectively utilized my experiences and knowledge to help the kettle falls defendants, our movement, and our industry with the testimony I offered.
Testifying as a Cannabis Professional on a Federal witness stand in a federal court case (where admitting to producing one plant of Cannabis can get you sent to prison) is a tricky and at times horrifying thing to fathom. I can’t really explain the complexities of it myself since I am far from an attorney, but as far as I can surmise from the three weeks of legal counsel and coaching I received prior to taking the stand, the only thing I could say without incriminating myself, was my name. I didn’t drive all the way out to Spokane, and commit my time to help, if what I could give was useless. So I had to find a way to speak and educate in a more dynamic way than I have ever done before.
When faced with great uncertainty, or if I find myself in need of great amounts of information, I fall back on an old habit. I consult a large a group of people who are infinitely more knowledgeable about the subject than I am, then I develop a strategy for success. That’s exactly what I did; and by doing so I hope I have earned license to say that I am humbled and honored to have played a positive role in keeping 3 innocent patients out of prison; at least for the time being. Their fight isn’t over yet.
Up to this point the only experts to give testimony about Cannabis in a Federal Court case have been law enforcement. Anyone else doing so was committing a felony. So for the first time ever (as far as I, or anyone I know, understands) real information about Cannabis, it’s extracts, content, potency, wholesale value, it’s market functionality in our society, etc. was introduced into the conversation from a Cannabis professional’s perspective, on record, and at a federal level.
I’ve been asked many times why I took a risk with such grave consequences for people I didn’t even know. And my answer is this; do as much as you can, whenever you can, wherever you can. I was willing and able and I, for some reason, was comfortable in my heart and soul that it was a safe enough bet that my knowledge could prove helpful for a positive verdict. I prepared as much as I could and then…jumped.
I am still freefalling. Stressing each day, checking the mail for my indictment letter for any host of felonies that they could charge me with based on my testimony. Or even wondering if they’ll knock first or just kick the door in. But for now, I am free and saturated with gratitude. I hope these words translate a small fraction of my experience. It was the most intense moment of my already intense life. But it is my belief that until Cannabis users worldwide stop being persecuted or prosecuted, we all have our part to play in the battle to end Cannabis and Hemp prohibition. Namaste