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Anthony Johnson: 14 People Who Made a Difference in 2014

Monday, December 22, 2014


M91 Victory Party. Photo from Facebook

As Chief Petitioner of Measure 91, that legalized recreational marijuana in Oregon, Anthony Johnson is without a doubt the Oregonian who made the biggest difference in 2014.

There are few issues that impact more aspects of American life than the Drug War. Advocates for legalization say the war has caused skyrocketing (and some say racist) incarceration rates, hysteria over illegal immigration, ruinous political and economic conditions in Latin America and generated a black market culture in the U.S. that has gone out of control.

Director of both the Oregon Cannabis Industry Association and the International Cannabis Business Conference, Johnson sponsored and co-authored the petition that made Oregon the third state in the nation to legalize recreational pot this November.

A seemingly, All-American boy type, Johnson grew up in Lexington MO, where he graduated as class president and captain of the football and wrestling teams, according to the Columbia Missourian.

He went on to the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law.  While at school, Johnson said he radicalized to legalization after seeing black friends treated more harshly than whites by police for pot offenses.

He moved to Oregon and practiced law for two years before moving to marijuana policy work full time.  In the past he’s authored Measure 70, that would have set up medical marijuana dispensaries that failed in 2010.  He also sat on a committee for Oregon Health Authority that helped establish regulations for state licensed medical marijuana facilities.

Johnson has said repeatedly that he sees legalization as a “civil rights” issue, and doesn’t necessarily pot’s use, only it’s regulation and taxation.

With Measure 91 Johnson helped write a ballot measure that could pass muster with voters and worked to court political alliances on both the left and right side of the spectrum.  The payoff will be a seismic shift in the way the criminal justice system is administered and the way commerce is regulated in the state.

Johnson, like the issue itself, appears to be just getting started. He is now working to legalize marijuana in Missouri in 2016, according to the Columbia Missourian.


Related Slideshow: 14 People Who Made a Difference in 2014

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Anthony Johnson

Marijuana Activist

Whether you support the cause, you have to give credit where credit is due.

As Chief Petitioner of Measure 91, a statwide ballot measure that legalized recreational marijuana in Oregon, Anthony Johnson is without a doubt, the Oregonian who made the biggest difference in 2014.

With Measure 91 Johnson helped write a ballot measure that could pass muster with voters and worked to court political alliances on both the left and right side of the spectrum.  The payoff will be a seismic shift in the way the criminal justice system is administered and the way commerce is regulated in the state. 

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Anthony Watson

Once and Now Former Chief Information Officer, Nike

File this under someone who was beginning to make a difference. Before he became the Chief Information Officer for Nike, Anthony Watson was Managing Director & CIO of Europe Middle East Retail & Business Banking and of Global Operations at Barclays Bank PLC and was Chair of the EMERBB Operating Committee.

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Carrie Brownstein


Before landing herself on television with Fred Armisen on the hit IFC sketch comedy show “Portlandia,” Carrie Brownstein was a singer and guitarist for the popular rock band Sleater-Kinney, which went on “indefinite hiatus” in 2006 but has recently announced will be doing gigs in the new year. 

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David Shafer


David Shafer is a graduate of Harvard and the Columbia Journalism School. He has lived in Argentina and Dublin, and has been a journalist, sometimes a carpenter, once a taxi driver and briefly a flack for an NGO. 

Shafer's debut novel, Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, was dubbed "book of the summer" by The New York Times, and has been lauded in the New Yorker, Salon, Time, Seattle Times, and many other publications. Writer Lev Grossman in Time magazine called it a "geniustechno-thriller à la Neal Stephenson, powered by social-media-info-conspiracy à la Dave Eggers." 

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Cyliva Hayes

Oregon's First Lady

No one had a bigger impact on state politics and the news cycle than Cylvia Hayes. While the Hayes’ scandals failed to derail Governor John Kitzhaber’s historic fourth term as Governor, an ethics investigation and a surprisingly close race has left him hobbled politically- facing an ethics probe and licking his wounds.

A Willamette Week article accusing Hayes of using her position in the Governor’s office to advance her private consulting business.

Hayes’ illegal marriage to Ethiopian immigrant while in college and allegations that she owned a pot-farm in Washington’s Okanagan Valley in the 1990s quickly caught fire in the media, but also quickly died.

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Reggie Aqui

Television News Anchor

KGW-TV news anchor Reggie Aqui started out as a television reporter for WKYT-TV in Lexington Kentucky.  In 2007 Aqui went to work for CNN where he covered President Obama’s inauguration, the Virginia Tech shootings, and interviewed Dolly Parton for online news reports. 

For the last few years Aqui has been a reporter for KGW and one of the anchors of its 4 pm newscast. Recently Aqui took over hosting duties for the “Live at 7” broadcast. 

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Terry Bean

Poltical Fundraiser and Gay Rights Activist

Terry Bean was revered in Portland as one of the nation’s leading gay rights activists and as one of Oregon’s top Democratic fundraisers.

Bean was charged with two counts of sodomy and the sexual abuse of a juvenile male on November 19, according to the Portland Police Bureau. Bean’s former lover, Kiah Lawson, was also arrested. The two had been the focus of an investigation earlier in the year, which led to the arrests.

The Bean scandal  dealt a blow to his reputation and more specifically his ability to help Democrats raise money in the future.

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Alisha Moreland-Capuia


As a native Oregonian, Alisha Moreland-Capuia, M.D., is as dedicated to the Pacific Northwest as she is to improving public health. 

Her Oregon Health & Science University biography, where she works, lists her as a “physician, scholar, educator and orator.”

Dr. Moreland-Capuia is paving roads, figuratively, boasting a proven track record for implementing health initiatives here in Portland, including her new role as the newly appointed Chief Medical Director for Volunteers of America (VOA) Oregon. 

Moreland-Capuia holds the honor as the first African American native-Oregonian to become a board certified psychiatrist. 

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Marcus Mariota

University of Oregon Quaterback

Oregon Duck Football had an explosive and record-setting year. Headed into the first College Football Playoffs after an 12-1 season, much of the team’s success can be attributed to big time play-maker quarterback Marcus Mariota.

The Hawaii native won the attention and support of fans and analysts for his lightning speed, precision passing,and humble, easygoing attitude.

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Teressa Raiford

Police Reform Activist

Long time activist and former candidate for Portland City Council, Teressa Raiford emerged as in 2014 as a leader in Portland’s police accountability movement.

In a year of violent protests and controversy surrounding police reform around the nation, Teressa Raiford quickly became the leading name in Portland’s protest movement. Head organizers of Don’t Shoot Portland, Raiford began leading demonstrations after civil unrest erupted in Ferguson, MO in August, after the shooting of an 18 year old Michael Brown by police officer Darren Wilson.  

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Betsy Johnson

Oregon State Senator

In the 2014 Oregon state senate, the biggest difference maker by far was the Democrat from Scappoose—Betsy Johnson.

In the last legislative session, Democrats had a 16 to 14 lead over the Republicans. In many cases this year and the last, Johnson was the deciding or swing vote. She’s been considered the most powerful vote in the state senate.

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Cheryl Strayed


Talk about making a difference. With “Wild,” a 2012 book, and now 2014 movie, of her 1,000 mile journey on the Pacific Crest Trail Strayed, has made a difference to readers and movie viewers alike who have been swept up in her triumphant and transformative story.

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Damian Lillard

Guard, Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers were locked in a seven-game series with the Houston Rockets, considered by many national pundits to be a superior team. The first team to reach four wins in the series would advance to the next round.

Going into game-six, Portland led three games to two.

Late in the game, with the final seconds ticking away, Portland was down 98 to 96. A three-point field goal would have won the series.

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Gavin Wilkinson

General Manager, Portland Timbers

With soccer’s popularity in Portland higher than ever, Timbers GM Gavin Wilkinson is solidifying the Timbers’ spot as a glocal club by signing big-ticket players.

He went out and got some big name-signings this offseason, including Ghanaian Goalkeeper Adam Michael Kwarasey.

The club also signed Jamaican Alvas Powell and Brazilian Defender JeAnderson.

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