Travis Maurer has been in the news a lot lately. There was a long time when there were only two articles written about him that I could find online. The first one was when he got busted for growing marijuana in Missouri in 2009, and the second one was when he plead guilty in 2010. I guarantee those are both tough articles for him to read. Not because he feels ashamed about growing marijuana, but because those articles likely bring up very hard memories of the most traumatic experience of Travis’ life I think. Travis was the recipient of a SWAT raid, which is a very, very scary experience for anyone that has been involved in one.
But as hard as that experience was for Travis, it defined him, and defined the path that he would follow in the upcoming years. Whereas most people would have gone about their lives doing nothing about what happened to them, Travis decided to use that incident as motivation to try to help ensure that no one would ever have to see guns in their families faces simply because they grow a plant that is proven to be 114 times safer than alcohol. Travis is but one man, so he can’t end marijuana prohibition for every person on this planet, but he sure as hell is going to try with every ounce of his soul.
For a very long time Travis operated in the background, working on legalizing marijuana in both Missouri and Oregon. Recently The Oregonian published an article describing how Travis initiated Oregon Measure 91, worked to build a winning coalition of political talent, and dedicated his life for the past few years towards legalizing marijuana in Oregon. I know this to be true, because Travis was ramping up his efforts when I first met him. I have always wanted to tell the story of how we met, but out of respect for Travis’ privacy, I never did. Until now.
I was sitting at my computer one day during the Spring of 2012. I had recently taken a leave of absence from my job to work on this blog, and to get politically active. I was working on the effort to oppose then candidate for Oregon Attorney General, Dwight Holton, and took a break to write an article about showing love to people that give to the marijuana movement. I wrote something to the effect of ‘if you give to the movement, TWB will be there to support you in whatever manner we are able.’ Shortly after posting that article, I got an e-mail from Travis.
Travis told me that he is one of the people that is giving back to the movement, and that he wanted to meet up to discuss joining his team. I asked around, and found out that Travis was associated with the Show-Me Cannabis campaign (which I learned later he actually started) in Missouri, which I was always impressed with. Missouri gathered a ton of signatures in 2012, and even though the initiative didn’t get enough signatures to make the ballot, it was still a very impressive showing, especially considering how conservative of a state Missouri is. So I agreed to meet with Travis at a bar in Portland called ‘Bottles.’ Travis said he would be joined by his best friend Anthony, and that I could bring someone if I wanted to as well, but I decided to go alone (well, technically Jay Smoker was too high from waterfall bong hits to make the trek is the actual truth from what I recall).
When I got to the bar, and sat down with Travis and Anthony, I quickly learned that Travis was a very passionate person, and that Anthony was a very, very wise person. Travis largely dominated the conversation, explaining to me his plans to legalize marijuana in both Oregon and Missouri, and that while he had to wait for some ducks to get in a row in Missouri, he was very, very confident that he had the winning recipe for Oregon. Keep in mind, this is in the Spring of 2012, before the Primary Election had even occurred in 2012. In addition to working on the anti-Dwight Holton effort, I was also very active with the 2012 OMPI legalization effort, which was later derailed.
I asked Travis why he was so fired up for his initiative when there was not only OMPI gathering signatures at that time, but also OCTA, which would later become Oregon Measure 80. Travis explained, very thoroughly, that he would support either of those efforts, and that if they lost, he would pursue his own campaign. After a long talk and getting to know both Anthony and Travis, I got in my car and drove home. I had never met anyone like Travis before that, and I haven’t met anyone like him to this day. I remember thinking at the time, ‘That dude Travis is like a hurricane. When he starts getting fired up and explaining his plans, you better grab on to something and just be prepared for the ride, because stuff is about to get insane.’
Anyone who follows Oregon marijuana politics knows that later that Spring Dwight Holton would lose to Ellen Rosenblum, and sent a message to the entire country months before there was a legalized state that something was different, and times were changing. At the end of 2012, there were two legal states, Washington and Colorado, and both of the 2012 Oregon legalization initiatives had failed. What a lot of people don’t know is that a month before Election Day 2012, Travis and his wife Leah came on as partners of this blog. Jay Smoker and I were ready to retire our laptops, and had it not been for teaming up with Travis, this blog would not be here today.
Travis is not without his flaws and faults. In fact, Travis and I have bumped heads on several occasions as business partners with this blog. But it was always water under the bridge because deep down, we both know that we are activists first, and everything else second. We’ve always apologized when we have been wrong, and have never let it get in the way of fighting for justice. When I describe Travis to people (friends and family), I always say he was the older annoying brother I never had. And I don’t mean that disrespectfully, I mean that with nothing but love, seriously. I think of myself as a fairly focused guy. When I’m talking about a subject, I stick on the subject until all sides and viewpoints have been considered (probably a carryover habit from my law school days). Travis on the other hand is hyper, antsy, and hard to get to focus. I will often be talking to him and he’ll hear a word that reminds him of a song, and will start singing that song and start using the nearest table as a congo drum. He’s that guy. But that’s also what makes Travis a great activist, and person. His passion bucket is overflowing, to use an old basketball term (I’m a hoops nerd, sue me). Travis has far more passion for life on any given day than I could ever muster up, even on my best day. That also goes for activism.
If you want to read about Travis, and what he did for the Oregon Measure 91 campaign, go to these following links. This is The Oregonian article I was talking about earlier. This is an article from StopTheDrugWar.org where Travis is quoted about his efforts in 2013. And for the longtime drug reform warriors who are obviously familiar with Ethan Nadelmann of the Drug Policy Alliance, check out this video of Ethan doing an interview with Russ Belville (starts at 8:31) at the International Cannabis Business Conference in early 2015, during which he credits Travis Maurer for the Oregon Measure 91 campaign, as well as stating that he will help him in Missouri if the polling results are favorable there. Travis is absolutely the catalyst and ‘general manager’ of the Oregon Measure 91 campaign, and I’m extremely happy that he is finally getting the credit that he has deserved for a long time, but didn’t get it because he was forced to stay out of the public eye due to having the ‘marijuana scarlet letter.’
Now this is not to take away from others that helped with the Oregon Measure 91 campaign. Anthony Johnson was obviously HUGE for the campaign, and did an outstanding job as the Chief Petitioner and spokesperson for the campaign, and even serves in that capacity to this day to fight for the will of Oregon voters. I give Anthony high fives and hugs every time I see him, and thank him for making Oregon into a state that I no longer have to live in fear of now that marijuana has been legalized. Liz Kaufman, Dave Kopilak, Peter Zuckerman, Sarah Duff and many, many more people deserve credit for the victory too. Even Travis’ own wife, the fantastically amazing and talented Leah Maurer, deserves credit for the campaign.
All I’m saying is that I’ve had a front row seat to watch this entire process take place, and Travis was the heart and soul that kept this effort going, and it was always behind the scenes. He now gets to come back from behind the curtain, join everyone on stage, and take a bow, and seeing that happen makes my heart skip a beat because I know it’s been a very, very long time coming. Other people from the campaign get to have their face out there, and Travis deserves to as well, because after all, he did some insanely crazy stuff to get things to where they are at now. As a lifelong Oregonian, and avid marijuana consumer that lived most of my life in fear, I thank Travis from the bottom of my heart for what he has done, just as I did when marijuana legalization was achieved on Election Day 2012, just as I did when I gave Travis co-citizen activist of the year for this blog in late 2014, and as I did two days after marijuana officially became legal in Oregon at the beginning of this month. I was going to get that last article up on the day marijuana became legal, but I was too busy celebrating legalization…for two days.
I can’t thank Travis enough. I was at a Women Grow event last week during which Travis was thanked by the speakers on stage over and over. Every speaker that thanked him made my heart happy, so if they are reading this, thank you. I want to thank Jeff Mapes from The Oregonian for doing that article on Travis and telling his story. I look forward to what Travis has planned in the future. He has some business ventures that will be ramping up soon, and I plan to support any and all of them that he pursues. And without question I will follow him into Election 2016, and any election thereafter in Missouri, until the citizens of Missouri can feel the same sense of freedom that I now experience due to Travis’ efforts in Oregon. After all, it’s the least I can do to return the favor. Congrats Travis, you crazy bastard! #TravisTheHurricaneMaurer #Maurerjuana #TeamMaurer