Cliff Thomason wants to "free the seed."
The Independent Party candidate for Oregon governor wants "to make Oregon great." While that slogan sounds scarily familiar, and while Thomason has a background in real estate, he is no Donald Trump. Thomason also advocates sustainable jobs, increased funding for education and the continuation of Oregon's medical marijuana program.
That third objective is particularly important to Thomason, a well-known hemp farmer who says his 2015 crop has been used in cosmetics, herbal extracts and beer. In addition, he serves as president of the Oregon Hemp Company and says he will promote the cannabis industry if he's elected governor in November.
We spoke to Thomason about what inspired him to run for office, his planned cannabis policies and the hemp vodka he says the Oregon Liquor Control Commission won't let him sell.
WW: What are you willing to do for cannabis that no other candidate will do?
Cliff Thomason: [Stop] the state's systematically dismantling of the medical marijuana program. Literally thousands of patients are being affected by that. I think that after years of the medical marijuana program being legal and running fine, to go in there and put restrictions on it and add costs to it is just wrong. So I'm fighting for patients' rights to make sure we don't destroy the program simply because it doesn't generate revenue for the state.
As governor, what specific steps would you take to protect medical marijuana?
If you get your medical marijuana card in Oregon and you're an Oregon Health Plan patient, that's subsidized. Yet we've done nothing to give affordable access to these patients. So I see a perfect world where patients go to their doctors, get a prescription, go down to their dispensary, get that prescription filled, and the dispensary will be able to bill that to the Oregon Health Plan.
Will you continue farming hemp if you're elected governor?
I'm going to free the seed…and really blow it up as an agricultural commodity. You get so much more fiber and pulp from an acre of hemp than you do from an acre of a forest. [With the Clean Fuels Program in 2015], I would have found a way working with the DEA to release hundreds of thousands of pounds of hemp seed into Oregon so people who grow seed crops could provide them to bio-blend processing stations.
Your crops have been used in beer and herbal extracts?
For our seed crop, the seed oil is used and we sell that to the cosmetic industry. The shell of the seed goes into a beer and also into a vodka. Except it's funny—the OLCC will not allow the vodka to be sold in Oregon stores. That's through Humboldt Distillery. It's controversial, which is crazy. What you have to remember about cannabis is that it's the only plant since the beginning of time that can clothe you, house you, feed you and heal you. If I was standing on a deserted island and I could only bring one thing with me, it would be a bag of hemp seed.