Micheal Krawitz Interview for Hightimes and the Twenty22Many
Welcome back to the Twenty22Many Veteran Chronicles. It is a sincere pleasure for you to join us once again for the latest Veteran/Cannabis activist updates. From the bottom of my heart I want to thank all my veteran brothers and sisters for their sacrifice to this great nation. This month I’m traveling through the airwaves to Virginia to interview the legendary veteran/cannabis activist Micheal Krawitz. It's an incredible honor to be interviewing Mr. Krawitz the single hardest working veteran/cannabis activist in the world. The veteran activist in the USA that won standing in federal court against the DEA and negotiated the first ever Veterans Affairs medical marijuana policy.
I had the honor of meeting Michael nearly 10 years ago. My first and by far the most influential mentor I have ever had the honor of learning from. Michael led a national campaign resulting in nearly every state adding PTSD to its List of Qualifying Conditions for Medical Cannabis, Including my home -
Washington State. If not for the vital role that Michael played during our fight for PTSD legislation we
would not have been successful. Michael has taken me under his wing at events all over U.S. We have
walked the halls of Congress together where we lobbied unremittingly for Medical Cannabis Access for
veterans. I was invited with Mr. Krawitz to meet with Political Director of the American Legion, Louis
Celli, to substantiate their true intentions in publicly supporting medical cannabis legalization. We’ve
spent days in New York inside the United Nations advocating for medical cannabis legalization and
safe Access. Over the last two years Michael and I also had the absolute honor of each receiving the
Veteran Activist of the Year Award from Americans for Safe Access. Michael presented me with my
award. My proudest moment since becoming an activist nearly a decade ago. Receiving such an award
from my mentor and very dear friend is something I will cherish for a lifetime.
Like I have always said and believe to this day. When we finally reach the end of the rainbow (cannabis prohibition) it will be in part because of the efforts and decades of selfless work from this man. Mr. Krawitz and I got to sit down and discuss veteran/cannabis politics. We discussed the latest in his home state of Virginia in addition to his continued efforts at the United Nations and the WHO. Please enjoy this candid and enlightening interview with Mr. Krawitz as he breaks down where we (veterans) have been, where we are going and the road we will need to take to get there.
1. Please give the Veterans that live in Virginia (your home state) the latest updates on
Medical Cannabis Legalization?
I am proud to say that Military Veterans have been at the forefront of Cannabis reform efforts here in
Virginia since the early 1970's with VSML "Virginian's for Sane Marijuana Laws" later renamed
"Virginian's for the Study of Marijuana Laws". Air Force Veteran Roy Scherer was a leader of this
organization and continues, to this day, advising us in our efforts. We had to make some tough choices
over the years in Virginia since we don't have an initiative system all policy changes must be made by
the legislature which, until very recently was dominated by a drug war mentality. This year saw a
revolution in the legislature that yielded policy making the state's medical Cannabis program open to
use by Veterans and also legislation decriminalizing simple possession establishing a $25 fine with a
presumption that a stash isn't for sale when no more than one ounce. The legislature is gearing up to
regulate adult access to Cannabis and is interested in improving the medical program and legalizing
marijuana in a way that creates equity during the very next legislative session and there are a couple of
official studies underway to help the system find a path.
2. How can veterans in Virginia get involved in Medical Cannabis Activism?
Direct communication with your state representatives is always a good start. They really do want to hear from their constituents and even if they disagree personally they can often be moved by personal
stories, evidence and respectful explanations. We work closely with the Veterans Cannabis Project and
Americans for Safe Access who both maintain databases and put out alerts on Virginia medmj
legislative actions. Virginia NORML, a state chapter I personally resurrected several executive
directors ago, has been taking the lead on conversations around access to CBD based medications and
we have been working very closely with the Virginia Industrial Hemp Coalition on hemp cultivation,
home grow legalization and legal CBD issues.
3. For veterans in Virginia looking for access to medical cannabis what can he or she do?
Virginia's medical marijuana law leaves a lot to be desired but it is up and running and Veterans who
can access a registered doctor to get a written patient certification form filled out will be able to shop at one of several dispensaries around the state and buy limited medications like extract of CBD, low THC and THCa preparations. Unfortunately, as of today, only one dispensary is actually open for business. Virginia's medmj program is overseen by the Board of Pharmacy which is unusual.
4. You have been involved in Cannabis Activism for decades. That being said when was the first
time you advocated for cannabis legalization?
My first activism was in Amsterdam, NL with Green Prisoners. We were working on fighting the
extradition back to the United States for Les and Cheryl Mooring. They faced massive prison sentences
for medicinal Cannabis cultivation in Arkansas. When I came back to USA I was still in school so I
became a leader of our college NORML chapter. Our chapter was very creative, we worked on medmj
initiative I-59 in DC and did info tables in Florida with Jack Herer and led an annual team of activists
back in Amsterdam at the Cannabis Cup and the Cannabis College.
5. You have mentored veterans all over America. Myself included. Who was your mentor or
mentors during the start of your activism?
I have learned from so many in our movement. People like Dr. Tod Mikuriya, Dr. Grinspoon, Robert
Randall and Jack Herer laid the very foundation for our efforts and those likeSun Tzu, Gandi, Dr.
O'Shaughnessy and Fitz Hugh Ludlow were our spirit guides. The Cannabis Action Network team
down in Florida taught me video activism and in the early days of the Internet my teachers were David
Borden, Matt Elrod and Chuck Thomas from DRCNet, Drugsense and Marijuana Policy Project
respectively. In Amsterdam among my teachers were Chris Conrad and Ben Dronkers. I started as an
activist at a great time when leaders like Kevin Zeese, Arnold Trebach and Ethan Nadelman were in
full stride and being part of the drug policy reform movement was more like a classic apprenticeship.
6. The big talk right now amongst veteran/cannabis activists all over the U.S. is the M.O.R.E. Act
(Marijuana, Opportunity, Reinvestment and Expungement). Is the M.O.R.E. Act good for our
Yes, It is a great step forward. Even though we have been winning at the state level since the 1990's this
bill is among the first to ever have a prospect of passage in the US Congress. The debate inside
Congress has become far more nuanced in the last 2 years, various models are emerging and it isn't yet
clear if Equity and Justice will be the driving force for Cannabis reform or if it will be big business and
the need for positive revenue. Hopefully these forces can be balanced and focused into real change
because until federal law is reformed many issues Veterans face around Cannabis cannot be solved.7.
7. Will we see the end of Cannabis Prohibition by 2030?
No. We should see the beginning of the end of Cannabis Prohibition in this decade but unfortunately
we have to change the world before the changes we create inside USA will converge on the end of
prohibition. This is assuming the end of Cannabis prohibition means that I can grow Cannabis in my
yard and share it with my friends regardless of where I live on Earth with no medical or research
justification. We are clearly at a crossroads inside USA on Cannabis policy and reform is underfoot
however if we have learned anything from the recent legalization of Hemp it is clear that legalization is
not the equivalent of ending prohibition.
8. Do you agree that Oklahoma has the best and most comprehensive Medical Cannabis Bill in
America? Or is their a state you see doing it better than Oklahoma?
Oklahoma has an excellent medical Cannabis program that should be emulated by other states. What
we need to do now is combine the best elements of the Oklahoma program with the pharmacy access
like they have in place in Canada or the Netherlands so patients can access the medicine from the
pharmacy and receive insurance coverage then we will have the ability to bring this access inside the
VA. It is ridiculous that military Veterans inside USA cannot even get a recommendation for Cannabis
from their VA doctors while Canada already has Cannabis covered under their medical program.
9. Four years ago you and I both fought for Medical Cannabis Legalization at The Untied Nations
in New York. You have been back nearly a dozen times since then. Can you briefly tell us about
your work with the WHO?
In 2009 Japan and Azerbeijan put forth a United Nations drug policy resolution asking for a new
assessment of Cannabis in the hopes that such an assessment [given their reliance on mis-information]
would result in stricter control of Cannabis [especially Cannabis seeds] This was not to be the case. I
helped lead a team that worked for several years with the World Health Organization. We made sure
the WHO had access to all of the science we have been collecting on Cannabis around the world
unlike the DEA who will only look at USA based research and then won't allow any. The result
was a set of recommendations that will revolutionize how Cannabis is accessed as a medicine
and will improve the lives of countless millions of people. We just need the United Nations drug
control Commission [called CND or Commission on Narcotic Drugs] made up of 53 countries to vote
yes on these recommendations this coming December 2020. We just need a simple majority to
10. How long before you see the VA writing Authorization’s for Veterans for Medical Cannabis?
The VA policy will change when there is a change in federal law including any rescheduling
since schedule one inside USA is a special case that provides particularly troubling obstacles to
access that aren't included in any other schedule. Cannabis [considering this WHO reassessment]
now belongs in schedule 5 and in that schedule there should be little limits on medicinal or research
access. To "deschedule" Cannabis as is often spoken about by activists we will need to either
withdraw from or amend the treaty or rewrite our CSA so that we can ignore the treaty but be ready
to wind up in a very uncomfortable Supreme Court Case.