January 1, 2014 was a game changing day. Colorado legalized recreational marijuana and little-known cannabis company Cannabis Sativa, Inc. saw its stock rocket from .75 cents to $15 a share. Spearheaded by Steve Kubby, the Libertarian candidate for governor of California in 1998, Cannabis Sativa held a patent application for a strain of marijuana that Kubby, one of the early proponents for legalizing medical marijuana in California, had developed as a treatment for his own health.
On the company’s board of directors were former elected officials, including New Mexico’s Governor Gary Johnson, Alaska’s U.S. Senator Mike Gravel, and Orange County, California’s Judge Jim Gray, all of whom have since mounted campaigns targeted at the highest office in the country—President of the United States. Recognized as resolute advocates of personal freedom and cannabis legalization, all three former officials, along with cannabis author and activist Ed Rosenthal, had joined mindsets in a company Steve Kubby named Kush (not Kush, Inc. or Kush, Ltd., simply Kush, as Kubby mandated).
Along with two patent applications—one for a strain of marijuana traced back to Ecuador coined “CTA” (awarded in 2016), and another for a cannabis lozenge designed to relieve hypertension (awarded in 2018), Kush was a prime target for acquisition, leading to a merger between Kush, a private company, and Cannabis Sativa, Inc., a fledgling public company.
Once the deal points were agreed upon and inked, Gary Johnson became President and CEO of Cannabis Sativa. Steve Kubby was named Chairman of the Board. Mike Gravel and Jim Gray remained as Directors, along with former Deputy Police Chief of Los Angeles, Stephen Downing. Kush became a subsidiary of Cannabis Sativa, Inc.
Within months, Gary Johnson was addressing record crowds at Seattle’s Hempfest, while Cannabis Sativa was labeling Kubby’s lozenges with the new “hi” brand, which Forbes magazine called the best in the industry. The company was also expanding the reach of the “hi” brand by entering into new business relationships with companies such as Baked Botanicals (the first company to offer cannabis edibles on the recreational market in Washington), which helped introduce “hi Jewels” lozenges and “hi Releaf” pain cream to the state. Meanwhile, Cannabis Sativa’s stock (ticker CBDS), one of the original pot stocks, continued on its tear.
In early 2015, Cannabis Sativa teamed up with Centuria Natural Foods, headed by the son of Jazz legend Dave Brubeck, to mass import CBD from Europe. This was also around the time when the long, and eventually futile negotiations with Colorado edibles company Edipure soured and, more importantly, with the looming 2016 presidential election, Cannabis Sativa’s President and CEO Gary Johnson was facing some serious decisions.
In January 2016, the former two-term Republican Governor of New Mexico (1995—2002), a moderately Democratic state, resigned from his position as CEO of Cannabis Sativa, Inc. “to pursue political opportunities.”
“I’ve enjoyed working with CBDS,” Johnson said, “and am confident of the future successes of the company and the cannabis industry and I’m confident that legal cannabis is a societal good.”
With former Massachusetts Governor William Weld (another former Republican who led an even more Democratic state) on the bottom of the ticket, Governor Gary Johnson secured the Libertarian Party’s nomination for U.S. President on May 29, 2016. In the first two weeks of August, 2016, the Johnson-Weld campaign raised more money than in the entirety of Johnson’s 2012 campaign, and reached 13 percent in national polls. 15 percent would have allowed participation in the general election debates.
After being excluded from the debates by the Commission on Presidential Debates (a corporation jointly controlled by the Democratic and Republican parties), Johnson still managed to secure 4.5 million votes (3.3% of all votes cast), surpassing even Theodore Roosevelt’s 4.12 million votes when he ran for president as a Progressive Bull Moose Party candidate in 1912. Johnson also beat his own record as a Libertarian candidate for president in 2012, when he and the Libertarian party’s vice- presidential nominee, Cannabis Sativa’s Judge Jim Gray, received 1.3 million votes, which itself was an all-time high for the Libertarian Party, and among the top ten for all third party presidential candidates in U.S. history.
This was also an exciting period for Cannabis Sativa. After being featured in the LA Times, and acquiring several Federally Registered marks, the company went on to secure the U.S. patent for the cannabis plant named Ecuadorian Sativa (“CTA”). This was also around the time when the company agreed to acquire the intellectual property for the White Rabbit brand of cannabis sprays and cannabis mints. Mere months later, Cannabis Sativa acquired a controlling interest in PrestoDoctor, a premier medical marijuana telemedicine platform.
In January 2018, another Cannabis Sativa, Inc. principal was making national headlines. This time it was the former U.S. Senator from Alaska (1969—1981) Mike Gravel, who was then serving as Cannabis Sativa’s CEO. Gravel was being featured in regards to the public outcry surrounding the release of the Fusion GPS interview transcripts (which were seen as critical evidence in the investigation into Russia’s influence over the 2016 presidential election).
In an effort to emphasize the significance of the documents, and vital importance of transparency and accountability in democratic government, MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow turned to the heroism of former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel, and his 1971 public release of Daniel Ellsburg’s Pentagon Papers, as an historical analog for the release of the Senate Judiciary Committee’s interview transcripts of Fusion GPS.
Senator Gravel was again making national and international headlines less than 18 months later when the 2020 presidential election was first getting underway. Gravel had made a run for president in 2008, and despite his poll numbers and comparative lack of name recognition, he became a sensation on YouTube for his bold anti-establishment positions during the presidential debates. At one point, Gravel was generating more web traffic and YouTube views than any of the other Democratic frontrunners, leading to appearances on both Stephen Colbert’s the Colbert Report, and The Daily Show with Jon Stewart.
Over a decade later, Gravel’s political views were still connecting with a significant cross section of the country. In fact, many of his positions were gaining in popularity, particularly his bold stand against the failed drug war, and his outspoken support for cannabis legalization, evidenced in part by his continued, active involvement with Cannabis Sativa, Inc.
Gravel was beginning to be seen by many Americans as the leader we needed for the times. Perhaps this explains better than anything why young people were working aggressively to recruit the 89-year-old former U.S. Senator for the 2020 presidential election. When two unknown, inexperienced, but surprisingly capable and persuasive college students approached him about joining the 2020 presidential race, Gravel eventually agreed. Regardless of whether or not he could win the nomination, Gravel figured the DNC debates would provide an unparalleled platform to reach the American people with his message.
Gravel once again became an internet sensation, only this time on Twitter. Unfortunately, when the Gravel Campaign surpassed the 65,000 donor threshold needed to qualify for the Democratic party debate, the DNC found another reason to exclude the anti-establishment candidate.
Several months later, the question on many voters minds was who would be the Libertarian party’s 2020 candidate for president. While the question remains unanswered, Cannabis Sativa, Inc. has once again come to the forefront of the conversation with yet another outstanding possibility: Judge Jim Gray, the Libertarian Party’s candidate for vice president in 2012, and the former presiding judge of the Superior Court of Orange County, California.
Judge Jim Gray, a long-time director with Cannabis Sativa, Inc., announced his intention to seek the Libertarian’s nomination for president on April 13, 2020. As with Gary Johnson, Mike Gravel, and Steve Kubby, Gray has been an outspoken critic of the failed drug war. In fact, he wrote a book, Why Our Drug Laws Have Failed and What We Can Do About It: A Judicial Indictment of the War on Drugs, which Cahners Business called, “a scathing jeremiad against the war on drugs, notable both for the author’s position and for the sustained anger of its argument.”
During his tenure as a Superior Court judge in California, Gray was perhaps best known for his pioneering position against marijuana prohibition. It’s no surprise, then, that we think Jim Gray would be a powerful contender for President of the United States. In the words of Larry Sharpe, Gray’s running mate for the 2020 presidential campaign, “Judge Jim Gray is the guy who was saying ‘Let’s fix the war on drugs’ before it was cool. He’s the guy who was saying ‘I’m a Libertarian’ before it was cool. He’s the guy who’s saying ‘I want to make changes’ before the problems actually hit. As soon as he saw things to be bad, he wanted to make the change. He’s written books about it. He’s an advocate about it. Now he can be your president.” On May 23, 2020 The Libertarian Party selected Jo Jorgensen as its presidential nominee.
Story by Johnny Welch // May 28, 2020
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