Lab Owner to Resign Over Alleged Ties to White Supremacist Groups

(CasarsaGuru/iStock)

The owner of an Oregon cannabis-testing lab said this week that she’s stepping down from the company she founded in 2013 following allegations from activists that she has ties to white supremacist groups.

Bethany Sherman, the CEO and managing member of OG Analytical, a state-licensed testing laboratory, said this week that she is not a neo-Nazi but will nevertheless remove herself from the company and sell it. In a statement sent Wednesday to Oregonian staff writer Noelle Crombie, who first reported the story, Sherman said her “only crime is a thought crime.”

(@OG_Bethany/Twitter)

“Knowing the political ramifications of my actions,” she wrote, “I did my best to keep them incredibly secret.”

According to allegations in an anonymous Nov. 23 blog post on the Eugene Antifa website, Sherman and her partner, Matthew M. Combs, who is listed on state records as a co-owner of OG Analytical, provided supplies to white supremacist groups, attended neo-Nazi gatherings, and spread bigoted political views on social media.

Sherman allegedly operated a Twitter account, “Mrs. Blackhat,” with the handle @14th_word. While the account is no longer active, the Antifa group has posted what it says is an archive of Sherman’s tweets, many of which promote so-called alt-right views.

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According to the Anti-Defamation League, the term “14 Words” refers to “the most popular white supremacist slogan in the world: ‘We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.’” It was coined by a member of the white supremacist terrorist group known as The Order.

In her statement to The Oregonian, Sherman defended her pride in being white and said she struggled to find a community where she could unashamedly express it:

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.

Sherman denied that she or her company “has in any way acted in a discriminatory fashion against anyone” and emphasized the good she said she’s done in the community.

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“Neither myself, nor my company, have ever, EVER practiced, preached, or recruited anyone to practice or preach hate or hateful rhetoric in ANY way,” she said.

“She doesn’t seem to get that those views are repugnant to most people.”
Rodger Voelker, OG Analytical lab director

The full statement is available on The Oregonian’s website.

At OG Analytical, meanwhile, the allegations have sparked a backlash. The company’s lab director, Rodger Voelker, told the Oregonian that Sherman came to the lab on Wednesday and “went off on us for not supporting her.”

“She doesn’t seem to get that those views are repugnant to most people,” he said.

Voelker added that the company’s image has taken a major hit since the allegations became public. “The brand is dead,” he said. “It’s over.”

But in an email to Leafly on Thursday afternoon, Sherman countered that claim. “All the media attention has acted as free advertising for the sale of my company,” she wrote. “I’ve already received four inquiries regarding the sale.”

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“It’s incredible how supported I feel right now,” she added. “For every every ugly bigot who throws crude, hateful remarks at me for my thoughts, I have two beautiful humans reaching out to remind me that I’m still recognized and respected for all the work I’ve done to propel the industry forward.”

Here’s Sherman’s full statement to Leafly:

It’s incredible how supported I feel right now. For every ugly bigot who throws crude, hateful remarks at me for my thoughts, I have two beautiful humans reaching out to remind me that I’m still recognized and respected for all the work I’ve done to propel the industry forward. I’ve received countless emails, text messages, and phone calls from dispensary owners, growers, distribution managers, Jews, Puerto Ricans, Hispanics, African Americans, Whites, Christians, and Pagans who have shared with me that I have only ever treated them with respect, that I’m a “beautiful woman,” that they are so sorry that me and my family are going through this, and to keep my chin up, among so many other positive messages. It has quickly become very clear to me who my true friends are: those who are not subject to mob mentality, who have the strength and professionalism to think for themselves and apply real world experience to their perception of the information they’ve been spoon fed from so many drama hungry media outlets. One friend told me so eloquently that we’re in a high energy period astrologically, and that it’s a good time to seek out new opportunities; to shed those that have been holding me back. This incident, despite being one of the most trying events of my life, is finally affording me the opportunity to pursue the life I’ve been longing for, and to weed out everything, and everyone who hasn’t been true to me and my higher purpose. Another silver lining: all the media attention has acted as free advertising for the sale of my company. I’ve already received four inquiries regarding the sale. For all of this, I’m incredibly grateful.

I am however, incredibly sad to see the pain each of my employees has experienced because of this event. I can only hope that each of them are receiving the same kind of support that I am.