The local marijuana community has been reeling following revelations that a local cannabis-testing lab is owned by an alleged white supremacist.
After allegations that Bethany Sherman of OG Analytical has been involved with white supremacist groups, numerous cannabis businesses and organization came forward to distance themselves from the controversial company, including a few who refuse to conduct future business with OG Analytical.
Eugene Antifa, Rose City Antifa and PNW Antifacist Workers’ Collective published a report, “Introducing Mr. & Mrs. Blackhat: The Nazis in Your Neighborhood,” alleging Sherman and her partner, Matthew Combs, are active in white supremacist circles. “He aims to bring white nationalists together in the region with the goal of establishing a whites-only homeland in the Pacific Northwest,” antifa writes of Combs.
The report points to a Twitter account the writers link to Sherman in which she allegedly describes herself as “#nationalist mommy. Our children deserve to be raised in a wholesome environment free of oppression against whites.”
After the antifa story made headlines, Women Leaders in Cannabis (WLC) released a statement on its Facebook page: “Women Leaders has zero tolerance for any form of fascism, racism, and bigotry. Women Leaders LLC, as it exists today, is a completely new entity.”
WLC co-president Anna Kaplan tells EW that the criminalization of marijuana was founded in racism, so she says the push for legalization and changing the reputation of the plant should be founded in equality.
“There is no part of our core values that is in line with any of the ideologies or actions from Sherman,” Kaplan says, adding that WLC pushes for “inclusivity for any women interested.”
Though Sherman founded the original WLC, that version dissolved in 2016 and today’s WLC is an entirely new entity, Kaplan says. “The Women Leaders organization that exists today was founded by myself and the current leaders of the board,” she says. “Legally speaking, the two are unrelated.”
Wendy Mintey, another WLC board member, says of Sherman: “I would really like to hope that her personal views don’t have an effect on the industry.”
Though she disagrees strongly with Sherman’s viewpoints, Mintey says the antifa article that brought her beliefs to light may have gone too far in doxxing (giving the home address of) the owner of OG Analytical.
“It could be really unsafe for her and her family,” she says. “I don’t think that was appropriate.”
Mintey says WLC is meant to be “a safe source of camaraderie in the industry,” and adds of the white supremacy allegations against Sherman, “We want ladies and everyone to feel safe and included in the industry and we don’t share any of those nasty, hate-filled discriminatory views at all.”
Sherman has not responded to requests for comment by EW, writing in an email, “I will not be responding to any additional media inquiries” from Eugene Weekly. In response to EW’s first request for comment on the issue, Sherman hinted at legal ramifications if the paper published a story about the allegations against her.
However, in a statement she gave The Oregonian, which broke the story, Sherman writes: “I find it extremely disconcerting that it is admired and revered to have ‘Gay Pride,’ ‘Black Pride,’ ‘Asian Pride,’ or pride in any other cultural heritage, but if you have ‘White Pride,’ it automatically makes you a Nazi, and you are ostracized, attacked, and lynched by your community. I admit, I am proud that I am white, and I’m not ashamed of my heritage. And I admit that I have been so conditioned to feel shame about this pride that I discreetly sought community where I could.”
The future of OG Analytical is still unclear. One employee told EW that Sherman fired everyone at the company on Dec. 6, but Sherman has made statements to Leafly.com and The Oregonian that she intends to sell the company. “I’ve already received four inquiries regarding the sale,” she told Leafly.
Sherman also said she has received a lot of support from the community. “For every ugly bigot who throws crude, hateful remarks at me for my thoughts, I have two beautiful humans reaching out,” she wrote.
After the allegations came out, weed business Eugene OG came under fire from critics who confused the business with OG Analytical due to the OG in both names. “OG” is long associated with weed, sometimes linked to “original gangster” and sometimes to “ocean grown.”
After the issue was clarified, calls came for local retailers to not sell pot tested by OG Analytical.
Local cannabis retailer Eugreen is one of the retailers that will no longer associate with companies that continue to get testing from OG Analytical. Eugreen owner Brad Rowe says, “I definitely won’t accept any flower that’s been tested by that lab after that date.”
Rowe says he doesn’t expect this to hold up testing too much. OG Analytical is one of three labs that tests cannabis in Eugene, with just 12 in the entire state. “They had such a strong reputation as a good lab because they were around for a while,” Rowe says.
Rowe says he’ll finish out his current stock of products tested by OG Analytical that was tested before the allegations made headlines Dec. 6, but he won’t work with companies that continue to work with OG Analytical. “I can’t really blame a person for not knowing, but I certainly can blame them if they don’t change moving forward,” Rowe says.
The CO2 Company, which creates products like vape pens, sent an email to its customers on Friday, Dec. 8, stating, “This week, we learned that OG Analytical was involved in allegations of being associated with neo-Nazi groups. In light of this news, we have immediately discontinued all business with this company and are currently in search of a new lab to test our products from here forward.” ■