It would be easier to list the things Jesse Ventura hasn’t done in his life. He’s a Vietnam War veteran (1969-1975), World Tag Team Champion pro wrestler, the former governor of Minnesota (1999-2003), a bodyguard for the Rolling Stones bodyguard and a TV talk show host (Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura).
“Author” has long been a part of Ventura’s resume. He’s penned ten books, including his latest, Jesse Ventura’s Marijuana Manifesto (Skyhorse Publishing), released this week, co-written with Jen Hobbs.
Manifesto will inspire readers with positive pot developments, but will also anger them as Ventura cites the shameful criminalization of cannabis and Big Pharma’s manipulation of the truth regarding this miracle plant. Ventura has never aligned himself with a particular ideology, or associated himself with a one-dimensional political party. Ventura maintains that corporate control of America is a very real threat to freedom and prosperity.
Just after celebrating his 65th birthday, he sat down with us for an opinion-packed 30 minutes Q & A, leaving no stone unturned — and no turn unstoned!
Was finding a publisher difficult for Manifesto?
No, not at all because Tony Lyons at Skyhorse is a publisher with courage. I’ve written my last seven books with Skyhorse and I always put Tony on a pedestal because he’s a publisher out there who isn’t afraid of the heat. He isn’t afraid to print something controversial; he isn’t afraid to print me. So we ran into no resistance whatsoever.
Why does cannabis coalesce with conspiracies?
The conspiracy with cannabis is the false information they use and continue to perpetuate. It’s the “reefer madness” idea that somehow, if you smoke pot, you’re going to go off the deep end and you’re going to go crazy and commit crimes and all this crap, like right out of the  Reefer Madness movie.
The biggest obstacle is enlightening the public to the fact that, hey, you can’t die from an overdose of pot. You can die overdosing on alcohol; you can die overdosing on all these other legal drugs; but marijuana has never killed anybody. In fact, you’ll fall asleep before you could ever overdose. Truthfully it’s actually a harmless drug and for those who smoke it for the euphoric feeling, like Tommy Chong told me, that’s great for mental health. The whole plant itself is medicinal.
What inspired you to write Manifesto?
Another reason I’m so passionate about marijuana and have gotten on the bandwagon even more so is because I’ve been affected personally by it. I have someone very close to me who developed epileptic seizure complications and was having seizures four times a week. The doctors put this person on four different pharmaceutical pills — and none of the four did anything to cure it. They all had horrible side effects.
So this person had to go to Colorado over two years ago to access medical marijuana. They haven’t had a seizure since, and are now weaned off all the pharmaceuticals. He only uses marijuana and is seizure-free today.
That’s great to hear. Does that person use THC and therapeutic CBD in combination?
No — no THC whatsoever. This person doesn’t want THC at all, because this person doesn’t get a good reaction from it. So it’s solely CBD, which is so expensive in certain states.
That’s right, legal CBD is more costly than legal THC.
To show you how bad things still are in some states, if this person were to buy CBD in Minnesota, a month’s supply costs $600. But now that they’re in Colorado, they can get it for only $30. That’s because Minnesota is so restrictive for allowing use. The program doesn’t have enough patients on board yet to make the medical marijuana program cost-efficient.
How long did the book take to write? With a comprehensive 40 pages of endnotes to document all your assertions, was it challenging to complete?
It took us a little over a year to write — doing the research and putting it all together. It wasn’t really a challenge; it was more a matter of digging up the information and trying to decipher your way through. There’s a lot of fraudulent things out there about marijuana. We wanted to try to get through those and get to the true facts — educate the public to realize that this is a plant that should not be eradicated. We should be raising the profile of this plant, instead of lowering its profile.
What’s an example of government fraud perpetrated against cannabis?
In August the DEA declared that marijuana would remain a Schedule I controlled substance. I mean, that is so fraudulent, it’s laughable!
What can be done about the DEA wielding so much influence over the fate of cannabis?
Allowing the DEA to make the decisions on marijuana is allowing the fox to run the henhouse. We cover it in Manifesto; the DEA is as corrupt as you can get. They profit from the illegality of drugs; they make money with those forfeiture seizure laws. They do so much that violates our constitutional rights, all because of the — quote/unquote – “War on Drugs.”
The DEA is the biggest culprit in the War on Drugs. If I ‘d run this year and became president, I would have abolished the DEA. It serves no useful purpose. They’ve been costing us a great deal of money. We did research for the book and found out the DEA breaks into homes and have actually killed people and then found out later they went into the wrong house! That really irks me because no DEA agent has ever been brought up and charged with a crime! So when the DEA kills an innocent person, I guess our government just considers that to be collateral damage in the War on Drugs,
And when the DEA claims: “We need to study it more” – no, they don’t! That’s just their tactic to delay the inevitable – legalization.
It’s the most studied plant in human history
Exactly. And we’re denying it to our own soldiers, who are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder, when it’s proven marijuana can help. We should be putting people in prison for not legalizing pot.
How do we overcome this?
The way it should be done is state-by-state – grassroots legalization in every state to go up against federal marijuana laws. Eventually, the federal government will have to drop its opposition to it. So it should be done on the local level, grassroots, like it’s being done now. Colorado is a great example. Look at the revenue it’s bringing in — and politicians love to spend money.
In Manifesto, you detail the federal government and Big Pharma’s grip on cannabinoid patents. How can we transcend that?
Through legalization. Another reason pot isn’t legalized is that then poor people could just grow it in their backyards. If you grow your own pot plants in the backyard, obviously you don’t have to pay taxes on it. It’s just like growing tomatoes. That’s why Big Pharma wants a stranglehold on it, so they can control the pricing and control everything about it. That’s why they fight legalization so vigorously until they get that control. It’s what they tried to do in Ohio. But the people of Ohio were smart enough to vote that marijuana measure down, because what they tried to do is give the pot industry to a monopoly.
That’s what we have to fight against – the corporate takeover of marijuana and hemp. Keep it local; pass laws so poor people can grow it in their backyards if they desire to do that. They can grow and use it without it being expensive. If Pharma gets a hold of it, it will be very expensive.
I can tell you, having worked in government, when it comes to government, always follow the money. The money will lead you to the reason it’s doing something, who’s been paid off and who’s profiting from it. The one common denominator is – always – follow the money!
Is legalization the key to breaking the privatization of prisons?
The private sector is all about profit-making and the public sector is about providing services to people. So you have services versus profit making – that’s the 800-pound gorilla in the room.
They’ve allowed the privatization of our prisons, which means corporations have to make money. And the only way for these corporations to make money is to have the prisons at somewhere between 80 to 90 percent capacity in order to go above the break-even [profit] point. So it’s imperative they keep the marijuana laws on the books so they can keep our prisons full – so the private corporations who run the prisons can be profitable. But if they were run by the government, they’d be a service and they wouldn’t need to be profitable.
You know, it’s really an embarrassment that the United States of America is called the “Land of the Free” and yet we have more people in prison than any other industrial nation in the world. How the hell can we call ourselves “Land of the Free?” If you’re in prison, I got news for you. You ain’t free!
Will we ever elect an intellectually honest president?
No, because we’re a bunch of lemmings who follow the media and can’t think for ourselves. Now, Minnesota rose up and thought for themselves in 1998 when I got elected. We need more than the two-party dictatorship we have now, so both the Libertarians and Greens can be included in the presidential debates.
The key is the debates. I’m living proof of why they won’t allow Libertarians and Greens, because on Labor Day in Minnesota in 1998, I was only polling 21 percent. That wouldn’t qualify me to debate in this year’s presidential election, according to the rules established by the Republicans and Democrats. If you ever want to see Democrats and Republicans work together, watch how they work together to keep a third political party out of the game. Then you’ll see them together, singing “Kumbaya” by the fire.
Did you use cannabis when you wrestled?
No. I used it recreationally, but I didn’t use it to directly impact wrestling. I didn’t use it to kill pain. I didn’t use it before getting into the ring. I might have gone to a rock’n’roll concert and used it. You know the quote I’m proud to have originated? Do you want to hear it?
Marijuana is to rock’n’roll as beer is to baseball. Imagine if they took away beer from the ballgame!
Should pro athletes be able to use cannabis?
Absolutely! Just look what it can do for NFL players suffering from concussions.
Is pot a performance-enhancing drug?
No. I’d say it’s a performance-relaxing drug; it helps you relax.
When you do personally partake, do you prefer indica, sativa, vaping, edibles?
I only admit to doing pot in Colorado. That way, when you’re in a legal state, it’s okay to use it, and you’re not getting yourself into trouble.
Fair enough. But when you’re in a legal state, do you have preferences?
Heath-wise, I think vaporizing is the best, better than smoking, because you’re not inhaling smoke. Willie Nelson first told me about vaporizing. And who knows more about pot than Willie? He even runs his tour bus on hemp biodiesel.
Is there any way to break free of the military industrial complex’s influence over U.S. foreign policy and war making?
Certainly, we need defense; you need to be able to defend your country, so that’s a given. But the problem is, it’s all about making money. That means the more bombs we drop, we have to reproduce that many more bombs to replace what’s used. That’s the part that is disgusting and makes you sick to your stomach. Man will put money over people. It’s okay to go kill people as long as it helps the economy.
Let me add this: you have Hillary Clinton and all those people wanting to take our guns away because of gun violence. But they are the biggest hypocrites on the planet. Because who’s the biggest arms dealer in the world? The United States government! So why don’t they stop selling arms throughout the world to set an example. Then tell us to give up our weapons – after they give up theirs. Let them do it first.
Look at this latest report where they found ISIS has our weapons. Wonder how that happened? We sold them to ISIS so we could make the money. Then they can shoot back at us.
Everybody out there who reads HIGH TIMES needs to read a very thin book called War is a Racket by Major General Smedley Butler. He was a two-time Congressional Medal of Honor winner.
General Butler broke up an attempted fascist coup by US corporate bigwigs to overthrow FDR and the New Deal.
Yep, you know your history. I like that. Anyway, if you read that book you’ll learn that war is not what they tell us it is. They give you these patriotic reasons to go fight wars, but they’re irrelevant. War is about moneymaking for certain entities, like Halliburton. By the way, did you know what company Halliburton was before they were Halliburton?
Yes, Brown and Root. There’s even an old slogan: “The Brown and Root of all evil.’’
Yep, Brown and Root, who got the $1-billion contract from President Lyndon Johnson to dredge Cam Ranh Bay in Vietnam. They’re war profiteers, and all they have to do is change their name. That way nobody connects the dots and realizes it. These corporations control our elected officials, and that’s why we go to war: for them to make money. All the rest of it is total BS.
What’s your take on the Russian hacking DNC email scandal?
It shows the entire [Democratic primary] election was fixed in favor of Hillary Clinton. Yet the media ignores that because they’re pro-Hillary. They’re ignoring the fact the entire democratic process of the Democratic Party was clearly fixed. According to those emails, they were not going to let Bernie Sanders win, no matter what.
Might the fate of federal legalization be decided in a showdown between big-cash cannabis vs. the forces of prohibition, like the private prison industry?
Yeah, I think it’ll come down to that because the prison industrial complex is going to continue to pump out their false facts. The pro-cannabis people have to counter that. The great thing is, over 50 percent of the country now says marijuana should be legal. So we’ve overcome that hump. Now it’s just a matter of convincing elected officials of the will of the people – and we do that by reminding them that they’re not in charge – we are.
Politicians are there to do what we want them to do, not to carry their own agenda. That’s what we’ve lost sight of in this country: the way we kowtow to these political parties and make the government believe they’re the rulers of us, when it’s the opposite. They work for us! And it’s time for us as a people to unite and say we’ve had enough of your bullshit, Let’s legalize marijuana and start making money off it like they’ve already done in Colorado and Washington.
One of the first results in Washington is that their statewide judicial budget fell around 15 percent. I can tell you as a former governor, that is mammoth. That is not a tiny thing when you have a department the size of the judicial branch that now shows a 15 percent drop in what they need to spend, simply because they legalized marijuana and they don’t have to bust people for it anymore.
You’ve seemingly lived more lives than a thousand people. What’s left for you to do? Fly in space? Run for president? Lead a revolution in this country?
I’m going to work for Russian television! I just signed the contract and I’ll be doing a new show on RT-America, Russian Television America. Isn’t it ironic? The Russians will let me speak freely, but the United States won’t.