Image of Marijuana Manifesto - A transcript of the Lew Rockwell Show episode 450 with Jesse Ventura

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ROCKWELL:  Good morning.  This is the Lew Rockwell Show.  And what an honor it is to have as our guest this morning, the great, Jesse Ventura.  What do we say about Jesse?  Well, of course, he’s famously the former Independent governor of Minnesota, he was a U.S. Navy frogman, a wresting star, a movie star, a TV star, a great Libertarian.

Jesse, there are many great things we could talk about you, but I love your writing career.  I love the books you produce.  And we’ll link to all my favorites, seven best-selling books.

But, Jesse, I think maybe the most important book you’ve ever done is this new one, your Marijuana Manifesto.  I mean, it’s quite an extraordinary piece of work, so needed, so timely, so well documented, so well written.  I mean, this is a book that can change this country if enough people read it.

VENTURA:  Well, I hope so, Lew, because, you know, I got focused on this for a personal reason.  I have lost my quality of life completely, and thanks to marijuana, it’s been given back to me.  And I’ll explain it wasn’t me directly; but someone very close to me developed a seizure disorder, and seizing upwards to three to four times a week.  And this person had been put on four different pharmaceutical seizure medicines, one after the other.  None of them worked, they all had horrible side effects, and the seizures continued.  Finally, we took the person to Colorado, got, “medical marijuana” there, and the seizures stopped.  And that was about two and a half years ago.  And that was what motivated me to help to do this book, was the fact the seizures had stopped.  This person today is on no pharmaceutical medicine whatsoever.  It started off as three drops under the tongue three times a day.  Now it’s in pill form.  And the person can now get it in Minnesota.  But the problem there is that what would cost $30 in Colorado, because it’s so restricted in Minnesota, it costs $600 a month.  And you can’t turn this over to an insurance company, your health insurance, because they won’t honor it.  So, it has to come out of your own pocket, $600 a month, to keep a person seizure-free.  And the marijuana did it.  There’s no doubt in my mind.  Like I said, today, the person is on no pharmaceuticals whatsoever and has not had a seizure in two and a half years.

ROCKWELL:  Jesse, it’s just thrilling.  And do we get a slight hint in this personal story of yours about why Big Pharma hates marijuana?

VENTURA:  Oh, absolutely.  It’s really the money, Lew.  It comes down always when you deal with government.  Remember the movie, “All the President’s Men?”


VENTURA:  Remember Deep Throat, in the bowels of that parking lot, told Woodward, “Follow the money.  Follow the money.”  Well, I can tell you, 99% of the time with government, follow the money.  And the same holds true for marijuana.  The problem is simple.  You can grow it.  Poor people could get it without being taxed and without Big Pharma getting a cut of the action.

I always like to use prostitution as the example.  And I know people are going to say, “What?  How can you make a comparison?”  Well, here’s how.  OK, two consenting adults can meet on the street and have all the sex they want to have, and it’s not against the law, right?  The only thing that makes prostitution against the law is the exchange of money.  That’s the only reason it’s against the law is that money exchanges hands.  The government wants to be the pimp.  The government needs a cut of the action.  And so that’s why it’s deemed illegal, because you can have an industry going on and the government wouldn’t be able to tax it.  The same holds true for marijuana.

I grew up in south Minneapolis, inner city, and every summer, my mom would churn up about one-third of the backyard and she would grow tomatoes so we could have fresh tomatoes all summer long.  Well, you could do the same thing with marijuana.  You could take a small thing in the backyard and you could grow five to six plants to where you could provide yourself with marijuana, its benefits, if it were legal, whatever you decided to use it for.  And the government wouldn’t get a cut, Big Pharma wouldn’t get a cut.  And chances are, using marijuana, you wouldn’t have to buy Big Pharma’s pills for a lot of things.

And alcohol does not want it legalized either because it’s an alternative.  You notice there was a special – I don’t know if you saw it.  Bryant Gumbel did it on HBO about tailgating at Denver Mile High Stadium?  It’s all marijuana now.  There’s no more drinking.


And the people say it’s way better because they said, in the old days, people would get there at 8:30, they’d start drinking.  By game time, there were fights in the parking lot, people were throwing up, all the typical behavior you get with mass consumption of alcohol.  Today, they said it’s not that way at all.  They get there at 11:00, they barbecue their hamburgers, they smoke pot, they feel great, the food tastes great.  And the games, there’s no fighting in the bleachers anymore or any of this disruptive behavior that goes on.  There is an alternative out there, it’s just that we have to take our heads out of the sand and end this persecution of a plant, I like to say, that God made.

ROCKWELL:  Jesse, so many great things in your book.  And I think of myself as knowing a little bit about this subject.  But your list of all the studies, including official government studies, showing that marijuana can help with cancer, both in shrinking cancer cells and killing cancer cells, why isn’t that, alone, reason enough to have it widely available?

VENTURA:   I don’t know.  I’m as dumbfounded as you are.  That’s why I wrote the book.  I want people to understand what their government is doing to them with this prohibition.

People who read the book, all I ask them to do, read Steve Kubby’s forward, the forward to the book.  When you get done reading that, you’ll take a different approach to our government and them looking out for your best needs and what’s right for you.  Because Steve Kubby was dying of inoperative adrenal cancer.  Doctors gave him five years to live.  Well, that was 35 years ago.  He’s been on a heavy dose of cannabis.  It shrunk the tumor, it’s put it into recession, and Steve Kubby has lived 35 years only using marijuana when nothing else worked.  And what happened to him is outrageous.  He led the charge for medical marijuana in California.  And when it got approved, he started growing it legally in his home.  Well, he became the target of the DEA.  And of course, that’s the federal government, who doesn’t honor what we vote on.  States are voting to legalize it but the federal government, acting as our parent, I guess, or not doing the will of the people, still keeps it illegal, still keeps it a class-1 with heroin, which is ridiculous.

And what they did to Kubby, they actually broke into his house where he was growing plants to keep himself alive.  He had to do this to stay alive.  They broke in with SWAT teams, arrested him.  The DEA, put him in jail, and he started dying.  The cancer started coming back and he lost 22 pounds.  And fortunately, cooler heads prevailed.  Doctors said the only thing keeping him alive was the cannabis and so they let him out and let him resume his cannabis, and it saved his life again.

But when you read about how callas the government and the DEA was – and the DEA, we cite multiple examples in their war on drugs where they break into homes, shoot and kill people, and then find out later they had the wrong address.  And nobody is brought up on charges.  Nobody stands accountable for this.

People need to understand that when you declare a war, which the war on drugs is a war, the biggest casualties will always be civilian, no matter what war it is.  More civilians will die than the actual combatants in the war.  And the same holds true with the war on drugs.  Civilians die and governments just shrug it off as collateral damage.

ROCKWELL:  Many years ago, Ludwig von Mises wrote that the government has no more business telling you what to put into your body than what to put into your mind.  Of course, these days, they feel comfortable telling you what to put into your mind as well as what to put into your body.

But the whole question of the government’s stake in marijuana prohibition is another fantastic aspect of this book.

Of course, we know the U.S. is the prison capitol of the world.  And those of us who follow these things know there’s a vast prison industry, a Fascist industry, a combination of government and private corporations, crony corporations.  But you really do such a great job in this book of pointing out exactly why the Prison-Industrial Complex is so invested in keeping marijuana illegal and building up their population, not only in terms of just getting paid for having prisoners and torturing prisoners in cages, but for actually running slave labor camps.

VENTURA:  Yeah, they use these prisoners and they get the corporations to come in and get the prisoners to work for $1 an hour, things of that nature, where they get their products done by prisoners in prison, which is no different than a sweatshop.  If you’re a prisoner in prison, and you’re working for an outside entity corporation, shouldn’t you get paid minimum wage, too?

ROCKWELL: Well, also, if you are going to have—let’s say somebody has committed a natural crime, not smoking marijuana, whatever they’re able to earn in prison, shouldn’t the victim gets some cut of that?  Of course, the victims, the people who are murdered or raped or burglarized or whatever, they never get anything.  The government always get all the fines and all the prerequisites of their slave labor.

VENTURA:  Oh, yeah.  Oh, yeah.  It’s horrible.  I hope people read this book and read it with an open mind and realize what’s gone on.

Here’s the part I like to talk about, Lew.  Do you realize today, in today’s world, that the father of our country, George Washington, our first president, that our third president, Thomas Jefferson, who many hold in high esteem, no doubt about that, and Ben Franklin, all three of those people today would be raided by the DEA?



VENTURA:  They would be doing 10 to 12 years in a federal penitentiary as a major drug dealer, because Washington and Jefferson, their major crop was marijuana.  And people don’t realize, marijuana, hemp, whatever you want to call it, cannabis, was the backbone of our economic development in this country for the first 160 years.  And we’ve got all this controversy today over Colin Kaepernick, whether he’s not standing for the national anthem or not.  I bet all the people that are angry with him and all that have no idea that the Constitution, the Bill of Rights and Betsy Ross’ original flag are all made out of marijuana.


ROCKWELL:  No, tremendous.  And, Jesse, I’ve read a number of books on marijuana legalization and the drug war and all these sorts of things.  You’ve written the best book.  I mean, this is quite, quite an extraordinary piece of work.

VENTURA:  Thanks.

ROCKWELL:  So tell me, what’s the situation in Mexico?   I know you famously spend half your year in Baja Mexico and half in Minnesota.  What’s the marijuana situation in Mexico?

VENTURA:  Well, one thing that’s happening now is it hasn’t become the major product of the cartels.  The cartels are switching over to methamphetamines and heroin, because of the fact of the legalization in the U.S.  It does exactly what it’s supposed to do.  If we legalize drugs, the cartels are out of business.  Plain and simple.  They have to find a new thing since the legalization has happened in states like Colorado, Washington and Oregon, Washington, D.C., and all those places.  The recreationals included, too, although I believe there should be no distinction. 

My friend, Tommy Chong, made me aware of this, that the entire plant is medical.  Those that smoke it for the euphoric feeling are doing it for mental health rather than taking Prozac and things like that.  And so, the whole plant is a medical plant.

And what’s happening with the cartels is that they – it’s much like beer.  You can buy a Budweiser, which has been sitting on a shelf made corporately by Anheuser-Busch, or you can buy a craft beer, something that’s made locally, much more is put into it, it tastes better, all of those things.  The same holds true for marijuana and its strengths.  The stuff that comes over the Mexican border is cheap marijuana, the same as cheap wine, cheap beer, whatever you have.  Now the stuff being grown today in the United States, in the states where its legal now, is the connoisseur.  That’s the best stuff.  It’s being grown properly.  So, what’s happening is people no longer have to go to the cartels.  They’re down to like 30%.  They used to provide like 70% of the marijuana in the United States.  They’re now down to 30%, and it’s dropping all the time because people are buying it here and they don’t have to go to the cartels or have the cartels smuggle in marijuana any more.

And so, it runs right in the face of what they tell us about prohibition and what we should do to fight the war on drugs.  If you want to win the war on drugs, legalize them.  That’s how you win the war.  Legalize them and educate people.  Treat them the same as you do alcohol and tobacco.

When they talk about a gateway drug, well, the first gateway drug is tobacco.  I can tell you that, as a kid, the first thing we did, we smoked cigarettes.  Fortunately, for me, not too many times and I never got addicted and I never smoked my adult life.  Second thing you do is alcohol.  Then, marijuana might be third.  And for all those people with this other thing where they tell you it’s a gateway drug to heroin, well, the legalization has proved that, in the states that have done it, exactly the opposite.  Heroin use has gone down in every state where marijuana has been legalized now.

ROCKWELL:  You know, Jesse, I think it’s such an important moral argument that you make.  We know that marijuana is so healthy – even aside from a rights question – it’s so helpful to people.  It can save lives, it can make lives better just by who knows how many people.  What kind of a cool and cold person could deny something that is health-giving, happiness-giving and life-saving to other people?  I mean, what sort of a mind, what sort of a character is that?  And yet, that’s the government and all the top people in the government.

VENTURA:  It’s called money.

ROCKWELL:  Money.  Yeah.

VENTURA:  The government makes money off keeping it illegal.  You’ve got the DEA and all of them out there.  And that’s what’s amazing.  The DEA makes the decision about marijuana.  A law enforcement agency?  No other thing on the planet – in the United States, I should say – lets law enforcement made a big decision on it.  And they have a huge conflict of interest because they make money off it.  You’ve got these seizure laws.  I would like to know, Lew, how those stand up constitutionally, where they can come in – and you don’t even have to be convicted.  All they have to do is say it was involved in drugs, they can take your home, they can take your car, they can take your personal possessions.  They put them on the auction block and they make money off selling it.  So, it’s a huge business that’s going on in this country, keeping marijuana illegal, so that the government can profit from its illegality and deny us not only the ability to use this product, which we should be allowed to do, but the fact that it would be a huge boost to our economy.  How many people in this country work in the alcohol industry?  Quite a few.  How many people in this country work in the tobacco industry?  Quite a few.  When you talk about delivering, packaging, the whole industry itself.  Well, marijuana is an industry waiting to happen, it’s jobs waiting to happen, it’s economy waiting to roll, and yet, our government stifles it and won’t let it happen.

ROCKWELL:  Jesse, are you optimistic?  Of course, we have more and more states legalizing it.  It seems to me the number of people who are opposed to at least medical marijuana is shrinking.  The government, of course, is continuing on and they’re making the money.  And there must even be that Big Pharma is interested in keeping this off the market as a cancer drug and other kinds of drugs, other kinds of uses.  Are you optimistic?  Are you pessimistic?

VENTURA:  Well, no, I’m very optimistic.  I think that marijuana can be the issue, it truly can be the issue that propels us to take our government back.  And let me expand on that.  Right now, polls show well over 50% of the country says marijuana should be legal across the board.  No distinction between medical and recreational.  Legalize it.  It’s over 50% now.  Well, this could be an issue where the people can rise up.  They’re doing it state by state, which is wonderful.  It’s the only way it can be done.  What will the feds do if all 50 states legalize it?


How will they then keep saying, no, we’re not going to allow it?  But this could be the issue where the people actually take back their government.  Because it isn’t the government’s job to be our parent.  And we’ve lost sight of the fact that we’re the boss.  Marijuana, this issue could re-instill that to us.  We are the boss.  They work for us.  We don’t work for them.  They’re not our parents.  And therefore, they should carry out our wishes.  And we’ve lost sight of that in this country, and we’re now millions of people who kowtow to our government and view the government as the boss.  While the marijuana issue could be the very issue that could bring us back, create a revolution, and allow the public to step forward and tell the government, no, you work for me and you’re there to carry out our wishes, not your own agenda.

ROCKWELL:  Jesse Ventura, you’ve done so much for freedom in your life.  You’ve been such a great spokesman, such a great activist in so many different ways.  But I’ve got to say, again, I think your Marijuana Manifesto may be your greatest contribution.

I want to tell everybody listening to me, get this book, read this book, talk to your friends about this book, get them to read it.  It can really help make a difference in so many ways to better the lives of Americans and restrict this monster headquartered in Washington, D.C.

So, Jesse, thanks for coming on the show.  Thanks for writing this book.  Thanks for everything you do.

VENTURA:  Well, Lew, let me reciprocate to you.  Thank you for having me on.  It’s people like you that have shows that allow the public to hear the truth and allow us to exercise our First Amendment rights and allow us to educate the public.  Because if you’re going to rely on the government educating you, good luck.


Good luck.  You know, you’re not going to receive a very good education.  You’ve got to do it on your own.  And for those that take this attitude to go along to get along, that’s as anti-American as you can be.  We need to be vigilant citizens.  We need to hold peoples’ feet to the fire and make them accountable.  If you do that as a citizen, you’re doing your job.

And let me just throw in, on the Colin Kaepernick thing, Colin Kaepernick, whether you agree with him or not, you should honor his right to protest, because that is what America is all about.  You have the right to do it.  Whether you like it or not, or agree or not, never stand in the way of a person’s right to protest and petition his government.  That is our First Amendment right, and there’s a reason they made it the first amendment.

ROCKWELL:  Jesse, I wonder, why are they playing the national anthem at sporting events anyway?  This only began in World War II as a government propaganda exercise.

VENTURA:  Exactly.  You know what, to me, is far more worse?  Did you see the story – they killed it in a day – where Senator McCain found out that our Department of Defense was paying these billionaire-owners –


VENTURA:  — of the National Football League to honor the veterans?



VENTURA:  I mean, did you see that?  It was swept under the rug.  That story lasted a half a day and was gone.  I am far more offended over that.  That should have received all the attention, rather than what Mr. Kaepernick is doing.

ROCKWELL:  Well, Jesse, you talked about educating ourselves, everybody needs to attend the Jesse Ventura University.


Start with the first course, which is his Marijuana Manifesto.

Jesse, thanks a million.  Thanks again for everything you do.

VENTURA:  Thanks, Lew.  Appreciate it.  Keep up the good work.

ROCKWELL:  Well, thanks so much for listening to the Lew Rockwell Show today. Take a look at all the podcasts. There have been hundreds of them. There’s a link on the LRC front page. Thank you.

Podcast date, September 30, 2016


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