07/14/13 Michael Douglas

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Actor Michael Douglas' tribute to Mike Gray Chmn. of Commons Sense for Drug Policy and author of Drug Crazy, Rick Thompson Editor of CompassionChronicles.com, Jim Berns running for Mayor of Cincinnati, Share Christie wife of Rev Roger Christie, Grant Smith of Drug Policy Alliance re progress in D.C.

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Transcript

Transcript

Cultural Baggage / July 14, 2013

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[music]

DEAN BECKER: Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.

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DEAN BECKER: Alright, friends, we’ve got a great show lined up for you. We’ve got Jim Berns who is running for Mayor of Cincinnati. One of his campaign tactics is giving away free marijuana plants. We’ve got a report from Share Christie of Hawaii whose husband, Roger, has been in prison for three years and denied bail because he is a danger to society. We’ve got a report out of Washington, D.C. from Grant Smith of the Drug Policy Alliance talking about changes to marijuana laws in our nation’s capital. We’ve got an interview out of Michigan with Rick Thompson who heads up Americans for Safe Access there and is editor of Compassionate Chronicles.

First, this tribute to screen writer and author Mike Gray who passed away last month.

The following comes to us courtesy of Doug McVay of Common Sense for Drug Policy – the speaker is Michael Douglas.

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MICHAEL DOUGLAS: A script came across my desk called “The China Syndrome” written by Mike Gray. I read it and I loved it. It was a contemporary horror picture in which a nuclear power plant was the monster. I called Mike and came in and met him for the first time.

Mike, as you know, is an engineer. Everything about him was about truth. One of the ironies I always found with Michael was here the most truthful man I ever knew in this fictionalized world of movie making. We worked hard on that project, on the China Syndrome script, and I learned a tremendous amount from Mike about nuclear power. I will be forever indebted to him because this is an issue that has been part of my life ever since then – 40 years ago – and it came about from Mike’s knowledge.

I saw his documentary “The Murder of Fred Hamptom” and I got a sense of what a Chicago kid is all about. Mike was the first person in the business I had met who was from Chicago. Chicago has a work ethic bar none – phenomenal, phenomenal successes.

I got one of the greatest laughs of every member. I always admired him because he always looked like he was on a fuse just about to go but he didn’t. When he did go it was an incredible eruption of laughter.

Later in my life…I have a son now who is incarcerated in federal prison for drug abuse and, once again, Mike has entered my life in terms of me reading his book and understanding how right and correct he is about the insane laws we have and our prison systems and how we deal with drug addicts.

Michael Gray has been a very important part of my life. I’m going to miss him terribly. Obviously I feel bad that she didn’t get a chance to see him before he went. I have a lot of love and respect to him and my respect and best wishes to his family and to all his best friends.

Thank you.

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DEAN BECKER: Mike Gray, author of “Drug Crazy” encouraged and motivated many of us around the country to help end this drug war.

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RICK THOMPSON: I’m Rick Thompson, editor of Compassion Chronicles.

DEAN BECKER: You work in Michigan. You’ve got a couple of radio programs up there as well. Tell us a little bit about that.

RICK THOMPSON: I’m blessed enough to be on 2 radio programs every week. We have a real radio show called the “Political Twist Up” show which is broadcast on Clear Channel Communications, Station 1470 here in Flint and also broadcast on 1230 AM, WTKG, in Grand Rapids. We’re syndicated in 2 markets. We broadcast at 3 o’clock in the afternoon every Saturday. We specialize in remote broadcasts from events and new business launches.

I’m also on a second radio program which is an internet only-based program every Thursday evening at 8 p.m. – from 8 until 10. That’s the “Planet Green Tree” show. You can find that at http://www.planetgreentrees.ning.com

In Michigan we’ve got our voter-directed initiative in 2008 with a 63% vote which is staggering on a statewide ballot. It was instituted in 2009. Since then we’ve seen court cases and legislation that’s been passed or decided which has restricted the protections which were originally contained in that law.

We have several bills that passed in 2012 which are commonly referred to collectively as the Walsh bills which restricted the transportation of marijuana to a method in which is very similar to the way you carry pistols or handguns in your vehicle. There are some restrictive court rulings from the Supreme Court that dictate that you cannot even pass a marijuana joint from one patient to another – that that is an illegal transfer – that the only transfer allowed would be from a registered caregiver to his registered patient. It is so strict of an interpretation that that transfer couldn’t even go backwards – a patient couldn’t even give a clone to his caregiver, the caregiver could only transfer in one direction to the patient.

We also have several bills pending in the legislature this year. Some of them would empower marijuana use. We have a decriminalization bill sponsored by Representative Jeff Irwin from Ann Arbor. We also have a local option dispensary bill sponsored by Representative Mike Caulton from Nashville.

The local option dispensary bill would empower local communities to regulate and control the dispensaries within their own municipalities. The dispensary bill is quite controversial - first of all because it doesn’t create a statewide network. It only creates the ability for local communities to pass this individually.

Secondly, it’s now been revealed in news articles that it looks like they are going to create a mandatory testing program along with the dispensaries. Mandatory testing for pesticides, mold and content may sound like a good idea on the surface but Michigan is the ninth largest state in the United State of America. We are geographically very, very large and diverse. Testing is simply not available in all portions of the state.

By instituting an oppressive regulation you may actually take the teeth out of or all of the benefits out of House Bill 271 which faces a tough road in the Senate anyway.

The medical marijuana community is not united in support of mandatory testing. It is very controversial in our community here.

I think everyone believes that the Republicans are going to take it on the chin in 2014 in Michigan. Our Republican Governor, Rick Snyder, came in with some very unpopular cuts in his first year or two of his administration of cutting spending on education, cutting spending on social programs and has slowly replaced it with tax cuts for the wealthy and for businesses.

The Republicans have a very legitimate reason for feeling like they are going to lose their majority come the next election and therefor they are trying to make as many of these changes now while they still have that ability.

Marijuana is just another one of the issues that the conservatives are not in favor of and therefor they’d like to take existent laws and twist it to make it more restrictive, less advantageous.

DEAN BECKER: We’re speaking with Rick Thompson. You had a situation there…well, in the last few days, where dispensaries were shut down. Tell us about that.

RICK THOMPSON: That’s actually incorrect. In last few days we had raids on 22 different locations in Michigan however the raids have been confined to the black market operators. It seems from the trickle of information we are getting from law enforcement that this may have been a methamphetamine “highway” that was also additionally growing some marijuana plants for distribution as well.

However, we certainly had a big reduction on our marijuana facilities earlier this year when the Michigan Supreme Court issued their decision in the famous McQueen case 0 also known as the Compassionate Apothocary case. They determined that very narrow definition of transfers I detailed earlier. That’s caused many of the facilities to shut down.

At one point in Michigan we had between 4 and 500 medical marijuana distribution centers stretched across both the lower and upper peninsula. Now I believe we are down to between 75 and 100 and those are shrinking as well.

Just 2 weeks ago or last week actually we had a raid in Springfield, Michigan in which 3 particular centers had been visited and shut down by county-level law enforcement officials. That cease and desist method was what was recommended by the Supreme Court and that has successfully been used in communities all across the state to shutter otherwise productive and healthy contributing members of the community.

DEAN BECKER: It almost seems beyond the pale, preposterous, hard to believe that the “reefer madness” from 100 years ago is still in circulation, still being used as a bludgeon.

Your closing thoughts, Mr. Rick Thompson.

RICK THOMPSON: As much as I want change now and I want patients protected now it is unreasonable for us to think that people can just switch off 40 years of drug war hysteria and brainwashing.

This is the largest public relations campaign in the history of man – the drug war. It exceeds any expenditure done by any corporation anywhere at any time. It has incorporated changes in foreign countries. We require those changes through treaties.

However, in Michigan we have a law and the law says that marijuana is medicine. I find it unconscionable that elected officials and our police agents are continuing to rely on 1960’s information to make decisions about what is right and what is wrong instead of relying on 2008’s medical marijuana act which is a more recent and more valid reason for them to extend courtesy and sympathy.

Here in Michigan we had a fantastic case where a federal judge ruled that a gentleman possessing 8 pounds of marijuana plants was only given 2 years’ probation because he said the man had a legitimate medical need and was being punished by the world enough and didn’t need to be incarcerated in federal jail.

That’s fantastic but that’s the exception not the rule. We’re hoping that type of compassion, that attitude pervades not only in the federal courts but in the Michigan system too and in the hearts and minds of legislators.

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DEAN BECKER: That was Rick Thompson who heads up the Michigan chapter for Americans for Safe Access. He’s also editor of http://www.thecompassionchronicles.com/

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(Game show music)

It’s time to play: Name That Drug By Its Side Effects

Blistering or peeling skin, swelling of eyelids, throat and lips, blurred vision and yellowing of eyes, black, tarry stools, vomit that looks like coffee grounds…

{{{ gong }}}

Time’s up: The answer, Celebrex.

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JIM BERNS: My name is Jim Berns. I’m running for mayor of the city of Cincinnati, Ohio. It is my 15t h time running for office. All 15 times I’ve run as a Libertarian on the platform of less government is better government.

My opponents think government is the answer to our problems and we Libertarians think the answer to our problems is reducing the size and cost of government. I’m the only candidate running for city council who wants to minimize the number of city workers and minimize the amount of things that we promise to the citizens.

DEAN BECKER: You also have a unique perspective on quashing some of that expenditure via a different look at our drug war, correct?

JIM BERNS: Yes. It’s become a highlight of my campaign. I had originally been talking about economic issues, opposing the parking meters, opposing the street car and kind of incidentally I started talking about my desire to re-legalize marijuana and end the War on Drugs and there was this huge swell of enthusiasm for especially decriminalizing marijuana, enabling people to use marijuana without being harassed by the police.

I’d like to see anybody that wanted to have a few marijuana plants next to their tomatoes on their back porch or in their garden.

DEAN BECKER: As one of your campaign efforts…I don’t know – you tell me. The newspapers and Facebook say you are giving away free pot plants. Is that true?

JIM BERNS: Yeah, we’ve given away over 100 plants to bring attention to this tremendous injustice that’s going on. Marijuana was legal in the United States from the beginning and the legislators wanted to punish Mexicans and black people who they thought were using it more than the white folks so they made that illegal. That’s the beginning of the drug war here in the United States. It was very racist.

I have a black son. I don’t want him to be a victim of the drug prohibition laws. That’s one of the important reasons I want to decriminalize the use and cultivation of marijuana not only for economic issues which I certainly agree with you but the personal human tragedy when someone is arrested and gets a felony conviction for just possessing or even having small amounts of marijuana. I think that’s totally wrong.

DEAN BECKER: If these politicians that are currently in office are not going to take a different look and make some changes we just got to step in and do it ourselves, right?

JIM BERNS: If I’m elected mayor I’m going to instruct the police to have a policy that I call “Don’t ask, don’t smell.” If you stop somebody for a minor traffic offense (that got a tail light out or registration out) write them a ticket for that. Don’t use it for some silly excuse to go on a fishing expedition, “Do you have drugs? May I search your car?”

They should stop doing that. They should also end testing for marijuana. Any convictions for marijuana offenses should be expunged and not show up as part of their records. When somebody is going to get a job that information would not even be available.

DEAN BECKER: Today the Houston Chronicle had a story about a gentleman who served more than 20 years in the U.S. military but because in the 1970s, before he entered the military, he got busted for a bag of weed…

JIM BERNS: I’m a huge supporter of our 2n d Amendment rights to keep and bear arms to defend ourselves and our family. Areas where gun ownership is high are low in crime.

I think the situation like you mention where a person who was defending our country, in charge of amazingly powerful weapons and now can’t get a shotgun, rifle or pistol to defend himself just shows how many ways the Democratic and Republican parties have led us to a path that is so dysfunctional they can’t even right injustices such as this.

DEAN BECKER: We’ve been speaking with Mr. Jim Berns. He is running for mayor of Cincinnati. Jim, is there a website, some closing thoughts you’d like to share?

JIM BERNS: http://jimbernsformayor.com They are welcome to call me at 513.708.0815 We really need your listeners to get behind candidates that pledge to eliminate these unjust laws against marijuana, to re-legalize marijuana. Find out who those candidates are and go out there and support them.

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SHARE CHRISTIE: Aloha. My name is Share Christie. My husband is Roger Christie who has been held without bail for 3 years and 5 days. Right now he’s at the federal detention center here where they have no outdoor facility.

He had a ministry for 10 years downtown in Hilo. They had a 10 foot banner that said, “We have religious rights and you can too.”

We had members in over 60 countries, 50,000 worldwide. He’s been an activist on the Big Island for 29 years. He’s gone to every town council meeting for every year that they had something called “Green Harvest” which is when the helicopters came.

They showed that on the nightly report that when they started that weed harvest - they did that for California and Hawaii – it showed, for sure, that that’s when they had the methamphetamine/ice epidemic here in Hawaii. We‘ve lost generations to the prison system.

My husband is truly a beautiful minister. I’ve never seen him be mad at anybody. He is just the sweetest human being you could ever think of. He’s won peace awards here in Hawaii ten years ago.

He’s also an activist for the Big Island. We helped pass a law on our island called “Peaceful Side: the lowest law enforcement.”

They did 17,000 wire tapings on us, have spent over 10 million dollars on our case. We had less than 2 pounds on us. We are very sincere in wanting this to be a cannabis ministry.

A Hawaii cannabis minister license to marry. We’ve done funerals and weddings. I have it online a beautiful wedding we did the day before we got arrested. 14 different agents, the Post Office, local police, federal…

DEAN BECKER: You mentioned the long time ministry there in Hilo providing spiritual and medical uplifting to people who needed it, correct?

SHARE CHRISTIE: Yes. We had sacraments. We made tinctures. We had holy anointed oil. We have a documentary of people healing from gangrene using this holy oil recipe out of the bible. They can find that on our website at http://the-last-marijuana-trial.com and http://thethcminstry where my husband has been talking about the spiritual aspect of cannabis and getting high with God.

They don’t even want us to use the religious defense. Right now I don’t even know what is going on because I haven’t been able to talk to my husband since last Friday. There’s been a shutdown at this prison for the last five days. It is very disturbing for me because no email, no phone calls and no explanation. Nobody will even give you an explanation of why. I’ve been trying to get hold of all kinds of politicians to try to see what they can do.

“Just give me an answer. Is it my husband shutdown? Is it the whole prison shutdown?”

Lawyers, nobody gets back to you. He is considered the Guantanamo of Hawaii is what people call him here.

DEAN BECKER: Your husband, as you said, was busted with 2 pounds. That’s a small amount in the overall scheme of things. Yes now, is it 3+ years later he cannot get bail? What is the rationale behind that?

SHARE CHRISTIE: They say that he is a danger to our community. The first time we got raided which was March 2010 they took our books, they went through things. My husband did an article saying they were very kind. They weren’t throwing their weight around. They were respectful.

We thought they were looking at our ministry showing that we were just a “ma and pa.” We didn’t know, at that time, they had done 17,000 wiretaps on us. I thought they were just collecting information to show that we were just a “ma and pa” ministry.

It was very confusing because the form that they left with us (I’m not sure word to word on this) but “Do not interfere with ministry work.”

We’re a cannabis ministry so a month later we re-opened. Even though we are a medical marijuana state there is no distribution centers. It’s been hard for us to have all these Agent Orange veterans come into us that are sick, people with cancer come in and they can’t grow their own so it’s such a catch-22 here that there’s no dispensaries and people are too sick to grow their own plus it’s illegal for them to even get seeds from anybody.

It’s such a backwards situation.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, such a round-about that’s created and round and round it goes.

We’ve been speaking with Share Christie, wife of Roger Christie, now behind bars more than 3 years for sacramental marijuana use.

Share, is there a website and some closing thoughts.

SHARE CHRISTIE: http://the-last-marijuana-trial.com

We want it to be the last witch hunt. We’re not doing this for us. We didn’t not take bail for us. What else is there better to do on the planet? We know that this is the tree of life. We know how many things that if we got cannabis, hemp going.

I want to build a hemp house. I want to feed my animals on my farm - you know the chickens and ducks - all the seeds. There are so many uses. I use it on my face here in Hawaii and on my body because it has the highest UV protection.

People need to know what this plant does. Thank you for this time and this opportunity. As my husband says, “Silence equals consent.”

If you want to see changes it is time to step up. It’s time to step up now. Many blessings to you all. Aloha.

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GRANT SMITH: I am Grant Smith a policy manager with the Drug Policy Alliance.

DEAN BECKER: There is a lot of news breaking around the country and more specifically in Washington, D.C. Outline for us what is going on there.

GRANT SMITH: There has been a release of 2 reports that point to a tremendous racial disparity in how the marijuana laws are enforced in D.C. in addition to the growing awareness about the costs of these arrests.

We’ve seen thousands of arrests for marijuana possession in D.C. over the past decade. Each one of these arrests results in a criminal record which can result in loss of employment or can be an impediment to getting employment or licenses or accreditation. All these factors have really pushed council members to support what we think is a first good step towards reforming the marijuana laws in D.C.

DEAN BECKER: You are headed to an event. Is it the National Lawyers’ Guild?

GRANT SMITH: It’s the Washington Lawyer’s Committee on Civil Rights and Urban Affairs. They are having their press conference and now discussing their new report that was released today that takes an in-depth look at arrest trends in D.C. for non-violent offenses including drug offenses.

They did find what they describe as a disparity in how the drug laws are enforced. The report is quite detailed in its review of the arrest records in D.C. as well as court records.

DEAN BECKER: I guess what this represents is that major media across the country and around the world even politicians and lawyers and others in charge of this drug war are beginning to speak of the need for change, right?

GRANT SMITH: The council member that introduced the bill flat out said that War on Drugs has failed and that this is a first step towards remedying that problem. Other council members just see this perhaps as a more nuance perspective on it. The overall direction is very positive. The more information we have the more we can utilize it to push forward reforms in D.C.

DEAN BECKER: These examples show the enlightenment of certain folks in Washington, D.C. which is set to open up its first medical marijuana dispensaries forthwith. Am I right?

GRANT SMITH: I understand that at least one is set to open up any day now. I think it will be interesting to see how things go. It’s just another sign of how things are changing here in D.C.

DEAN BECKER: Once again we’ve been speaking with Mr. Grant Smith with the Drug Policy Alliance. Their website is http://drugpolicy.org

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DEAN BECKER: I’ve only got time to say that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

Drug Truth Network archives are stored at the James A. Baker, III Institute for Policy Studies.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org