Claims of bribery get activist Dan Rush busted

Ngaio Bealum is a Sacramento comedian, activist and marijuana expert. Email him questions at

So did some big marijuana person get arrested or something? What’s going on?

—Connie Phused

Yup. United Food and Commercial Workers honcho and cannabis activist Dan Rush has been indicted on a variety of bribery and corruption charges. The FBI alleges that Rush solicited bribes in exchange for him influencing the dispensary permitting process in Oakland, as well as taking bribes to teach dispensary operators how to avoid becoming a union-run shop. (Read more at This allegation, if true, is heartbreaking. The idea that a union organizer would give advice on how to break unions is stunning.

I’ve known Rush for a while (we have never really worked together, but we have chopped it up on a few occasions) and he always seemed like he was aboveboard in all of his dealings, but one never really knows, I suppose. This is a blow to many cannabis law reform organizations. Rush was on the board of the Coalition for Cannabis Policy Reform, and worked closely with many cannabis law reform organizations here and in Nevada.

As a Cynical-American, I have to say that I am not totally surprised at the level of corruption seemingly exposed by this FBI investigation. Any time something of immense value is up for grabs (and a cannabis dispensary license in Oakland is worth millions of dollars per year), people will scheme and cheat to give themselves every advantage possible. Maybe if we could stop treating cannabis like crack and more like wine, we could have less corruption and more fun.

I enjoy your column every week. My wife and I both have California med cards. We will be traveling to Costa Rica to celebrate my 65th birthday soon. My question: How “dangerous” is it to take some cannabis with us to enjoy on vacation? If it is detected on our outbound flight from California, aren’t we “legal” with our cards to possess it and therefore will not be in any trouble at the airport? We wouldn’t bring any herb back into this country on our return, but are thinking of returning with our favorite vaporizer, which we would like to take to Costa Rica. Again, assuming we have it packed and cleaned well enough, wouldn’t we be OK if it was found in California upon our arrival home, since we have our cards? Thanks for giving me your thoughts on this dilemma.


Dude. Really? You are planning to bring marijuana across an international border? Why? First of all, from what I understand (I have a few friends that go to Costa Rica every year), weed is pretty easy to find in Costa Rica. It’s illegal, but in that kind of California way, where if you are being an indiscreet ass, you will get in trouble but if you stay cool you will be fine. Secondly, never carry drugs across international borders! Jeez. Eat a big edible, stumble onto your flight and find a connection when you get to your hotel. Have a fun trip!