11/03/13 Aaron Justice

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DPA Conf III: Aaron Justice Pres of Buds and Roses, Diane Fornbacher Editor Ladybud.com, Peter Christ of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition, John Milanke of United Patients Group

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Transcript

Transcript

Cultural Baggage / November 3, 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: Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I’m back from Denver. Got lots of great interviews to share from the Drug Policy Alliance 2013 Biannual Conference. Let’s get to it.

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AARON JUSTICE: My name is Aaron Justice and I’m the president of Buds and Roses Collective, a dispensary in Los Angeles. We’ve been operating since 2006. I’m also on the steering committee of GLOCA, the Greater Los Angeles Collective Alliance. It’s the oldest trade association of its kind. I work with Americans for Safe Access.

DEAN BECKER: As marijuana is becoming more normalized as medical is spreading across the country, Washington/Colorado are legalizing it at least to a certain degree and 58% of Americans are saying, “Let’s legalize it – medical or otherwise.” It is time for our politicians to take another look at this don’t you think?

AARON JUSTICE: Oh yeah. We don’t get a lot of support in the halls of congress and the bigger governments. I don’t know. Even though 58% of Americans are in support of it there’s powerful lobbying groups that are not in support of it. In California our biggest problem is there is powerful law enforcement organizations there and they turn against us.

The politicians definitely need to come around. I would like to see the Republicans come around to it. It seems like it should be their issue, of course, state’s rights, freedom, liberty. Tea Party talks about it. I don’t know what it’s going to take to convince them.

I think the biggest thing that’s happened recently where we going to get more support which really is surprising to me and probably to a lot of people it’s almost like kids using cannabis is going to have a bigger effect on legalization than anything because when you see Sanjay Gupta come out and you see these young children and their parents giving it to them you know that it must work because parents don’t get their kids high for fun.

The reason I state that is I heard in Ohio that mothers were banning together to get this CBD oil and it turned conservatives in government immediately around and they said, “Maybe we can change some rules so we can get this high CBD medicine without changing the medical marijuana laws or just to get it to you quickly.”

Maybe that will actually grab the hearts of those politicians or get them to change their ways.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, I would think it would tend to influence them because if they have to move to Colorado or elsewhere they are losing voters, they’re losing taxes, etc.

AARON JUSTICE: Yeah, exactly. Those are the constituents that they listen to as the are more normal or what they call “soccer moms” and things like that. It’s hard to deny especially when they’re fighting for their kids’ health.

DEAN BECKER: The story with Sanjay Gupta with the overwhelming benefit which made your heart smile that Charlotte derives from the use of that oil should sway most any politician.

It’s beginning to hold sway. It’s beginning to normalize even to certain politicians – Eric Holder, Senator Leahy, John McCain. Rand Paul, for God’s sakes, sounded like a member of LEAP when he spoke to the senate.

These politicians, most of them, enough of them know this truth they are just waiting on their constituents to tell them it’s OK. What’s your thought?

AARON JUSTICE: I think that although we’d like to believe that pulling on their heart strings and that works it does and it convinces people but it truly is about the numbers and about if they’re going to get reelected or not.

The more data we can have, the more sophisticated we can be in our political process the more the politicians will change. That’s kind of what we did in Los Angeles. We really organized. We formed a coalition with Americans for Safe Access, GLOCA, the union so it was representing employees, patients, operators. We went the traditional route on politics and we got the best signature gathering company – the same one that did Prop 215 – and we got committed and we invested in it and we actually made change happen by really working the true political process.

The more sophisticated we get on that - one state does it and another state does it and another state does it – we can convince these politicians that it’s in their best interest and they will vote on the side of cannabis if they believe that’s what their constituents want.

DEAN BECKER: We’ve been speaking with Mr. Aaron Justice. He’s president of Buds and Roses based out in L.A. Aaron, if you would, some closing thoughts and maybe point folks to a website you’d recommend.

AARON JUSTICE: I’d just like to say it’s great being at this event. Some of the best things I heard is when we get through this fight which is going to be a long fight and take more and more years we cannot forget that this is just one part of America’s mass incarceration problem. There’s many other drugs that are out there that the laws are ruining peoples’ lives way more than the drug itself. We just don’t want to get lost in that.

You can follow us on Facebook at BudsandRoses or Twitter or Instagram. Also check out websites like drugpolicyalliance.org, americansforsafeaccess.org, leap.cc, gloca and get involved.

It feels great. Huffington Post put out that there is more than 1,000 drug law reform activists here. I’m seeing all kinds of new faces, all kinds of mainstream people that you know they have been studying cannabis and they are passionate about it, they’re fighting for it. I love it and I want it to continue.

I hope that the medical cannabis movement or the cannabis movement, in general, stirs a new kind of activism for the world and we don’t stop at cannabis and we start working on a lot of these issues.

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DEAN BECKER: It’s the first day of the conference here in Denver and I’m here with Diane Fornbacher. We’re going to talk about her new endeavor, Lady Bud. It’s out there on the web, very fantastic stuff. Diane, I want to congratulate you on the way this thing has hit the ground rolling.

DIANE FORNBACHER: Thank you so much. We really are hitting all our demographics and then some. I’m quite proud of it. It’s a community effort full of a lot of people who are very involved with overall drug policies as well as specific to cannabis.

We have a lot of other writers who do some of our entertainment articles and focus on other socially progressive issues.

DEAN BECKER: Even the mainstream press is starting to dabble in drug reform. They always give two sides but it’s a good sign, isn’t it?

DIANE FORNBACHER: It’s an incredible sign. We’ve seen a lot of mainstream media especially specific to mothers and younger professional women finding their stories at Lady Bud and then writing more stories for other places like Slate or Salon.com. Huffington Post gives us calls for leads all the time.

DEAN BECKER: This is a good sign. It’s indicative that more and more women are realizing the futility of this drug war, getting on board, right?

DIANE FORNBACHER: I think pretty much everybody is. The reason we are making such strides is not only are we building upon of so many people who have come before us both male, female, transgender, etc. but I really think the last gasp of the drug war is going to be the women warriors beating it into the ground.

DEAN BECKER: The truth is there. It’s staring us in the face. It’s obvious as hell and we just have to make people take another look, right?

DIANE FORNBACHER: That’s right. Our primary focus is the NORML Women’s Alliance Foundation, NORML and Lady Bug are indeed the CPS, the Child Protective Services cases which are always trying to attack cannabis or even other drug use. What we want to do is to make people understand the overall drug war and how it’s affecting families from the prison industrial complex to juvenile for profit facilities. For mere possession you can get a neglectment case against you and have your children taken away and God forbid your children are very young or infants you may never see them again.

DEAN BECKER: We had the case of baby Bree ( I forget what state she’s in) but her parents were legally growing/using marijuana not in the presence of the kids and yet somehow ...I don’t even understand the basis by which they were able to do so but they’ve taken that baby from her parents. Your thoughts there?

How do we undo this moralistic posturing?

DIANE FORNBACHER: It’s really difficult. If you have a CPS case the first impulse and legal advice you get is to not go public because you don’t want to step on the fire ant hill of the CPS cause they can really come at you.

We had a lot of cases recently. Usually when these cases happen to activist families they are not quiet and CPS is not accustomed to that. The Green family is one of those families. They help make the Michigan cannabis law. The mother is the caretaker and the father suffers from epilepsy so the judges basically want an epilepsy patient to stop using the very thing that keeps him alive and productive and present for his child and they are taking the child away.

I really don’t know about you but that just seems kind of crazy to me where someone is living a healthy, productive life and being ...a mother caring for the father, the father getting better and them being a whole unit as a family as a result of cannabis used as medicine and now having their child taken away. That’s really counterproductive.

It’s really just inhumane and cruel. It is unacceptable.

DEAN BECKER: How can these CPS officials sleep at night knowing they have, in effect, tampered with this family relationship?

DIANE FORNBACHER: There was a CPS whistle blowers who’s name escapes me at the moment but I was watching a video on Youtube and he left CPS because he felt like the CPS agents were promoting and trying to uphold the drug war as opposed to trying to keep families together or protecting children.

They are being used as agents for something they have no business doing. If a child is truly being abuse, if a child is truly being neglected whether the parents use drugs or not...if a child needs CPS they should get those services but what’s happening is they are spread so thin enforcing these neglect cases which primarily are pulled up from people who are merely possessing and consuming cannabis and I believe that is very damaging. It’s the children who really need CPS who are being deprived and suffering as a result.

How many kids are starving? How many kids are getting beaten while people who are just merely consuming cannabis and happen to have families are being targeted by CPS? For what?! For nothing!

DEAN BECKER: Then there’s that tragic case out of Texas where the 2-year-old girl living a happy life with her family and I think her dad got caught with weed in Texas which triggered the CPS to take that child and put it with a foster mother. Do you want to talk about that?

DIANE FORNBACHER: So the foster mother, unfortunately, killed this child. She died in foster care. The family that was taking care of this child were not vetted properly. A child was removed from a family who had a parent who consumed cannabis but was alive, growing, thriving but removed from the family.

Now she’s dead. How else can I explain this? It doesn’t make any sense. It’s hard to wrap your brain around because it should not have happened. If cannabis wasn’t illegal that child would be alive today.

DEAN BECKER: And baby Bree would be with her mother and dad.

Diane, we’re going to wrap it up here. I want you to tell folks about Lady Bud. It’s a constant supply of great information. Point them in the right direction.

DIANE FORNBACHER: http://ladybud.com It’s not lady bug. That’s a children’s magazine. It was born from the fact that I worked for a lot of gender-centric for male demographics like Skunk magazine, High Times and also been involved with drug policy reform through NORML for almost 20 years.

Combined with all that experience and being a woman in those environments and talking to my female colleagues and becoming a mother myself I realized that we really needed to have some sort of media that approached us – sort of like Good Housekeeping, Interview magazine, something sharp but something friendly, informative and entertaining.

The news that we deal with...the real news that we can concentrate on is very difficult, very difficult – it involves the death of children, it involves CPS cases, things that families find horrifying and don’t want to think about but have to.

We made a lifestyle magazine so it’s not as intimidating. Say you’ve never even heard of the drug war which I can hardly imagine but you’re not into it, you’re not an activist we have stories there that won’t intimidate you but on the sidebar you might see a story that’s a ‘holy crap’ type of story to you. So you take your eyes from a nail polish review or some sort of hemp soap like Dr. Bronner’s review and you’re start reading this.

So we’re trying to open people’s eyes in a unique way that can start out as fun but gets serious really fast but for activist like myself this is also a magazine where you can take a break from being cross-eyed looking at this news and having our heart broken several times a day or every minute even depending on how fast you read. You can take a break and read about products and other socially progressive issues and see some hope.

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DEAN BECKER: Again, that was Diane Fornbacher of the online news magazine http://ladybud.com.
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(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

Ventricular fibrillation, vasoconstriction, inhibition of the pump, increased concentration of calcium in sarcoplasm of cardiac cell, a positive inotropic effect that is caused by digitalis…

{{{ gong }}}

Time’s up!

The answer MEODMT, piedra, lovestone, Jamaican stone or chinese rock from Bufo alvarius, skin of the toad. The doctors say the safest and surest way is not to eat it or lick it and sure as hell not to smoke it, but simply to sniff it. Otherwise, you could wind up dead.

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DEAN BECKER: I’m here with Mr. Peter Christ, one of the founding members of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. I just want to get your first analysis of what’s going on here – where are we headed, what’s going on at this conference?

PETER CHRIST: This conference is a good time. I’ve been coming to these conferences since 1990 so I’ve seen a lot of things happening at these conferences. It’s very good. There’s a lot of people who are very excited about the cannabis issue which is not really a LEAP issue. There are successes. People are feeling energized. You can see that. They are feeling changes coming so I think it’s empowering a lot of people.

It’s, again, not changing my argument in fact I often like to say my big fear is that if we legalize cannabis, if the government takes cannabis off of Schedule I tomorrow and moves it to Schedule II 2 years from now we’re at the next DPA conference we’re going to have far fewer people here because the marijuana people aren’t going to be here.

Then in our country we’re going to go through about a 2 year lull and then we’re going to start hearing this, “Wait a minute. You said that if we legalized this stuff the violence would end but we still got the gangs, we still got the cartels, we still got the violence.” Then we’re going to have regenerate the discussion all over again and get back to the policy of prohibition and that is where the fault of our system is.

It’s not in marijuana prohibition or even drug prohibition. It’s when you send armed law enforcement into the streets to enforce one group of peoples’ impression of morality that is not a function of law enforcement. That is a function of church, education and health care and the family. It is not a criminal justice function.

This whole type of policy no matter what it is whether it’s drugs, gambling...we used to arrest people for being gay in America. That’s another morality law. That is not function of law enforcement.

There’s a guy by the name of Robert Peel. Lord Robert Peel created the London police department back in the early 1800s and that was a model for all the police departments in the free world that we use today.

When he set that up he said in his writings that he wanted to put a group of people in the community that would protect people from each other not from their own moral indiscretions. That is what we are supposed to do and that is what we need to return to doing.

DEAN BECKER: There are many, many instances of corruption in border patrol, law enforcement, any and everywhere where the oversight is supposed to protect us where it has actually fallen into the hands of criminality, where too often cops become the criminals. They support the gangs in importing and distributing these drugs.

You and I, with law enforcement experience, cringe at that thought that our profession has been stained by this situation.

PETER CHRIST: Absolutely. In fact it’s interesting. I have never heard of a case of police corruption that the cop who was paid off was paid off by the local rapist or the cop was paid off by the local bank robber or the local house burgler. It’s always these consensual crimes – prostitution, gambling, drugs – and I believe and I’m making no excuse for it but if I had caught any of my officers with their hand in the pot I would have busted them and sent them to prison so I’m not saying it’s OK but let me use this example.

If you’ve got a dog and you starve it for a month and then you go over to that dog and you wave a steak in front of its face. When that dog bites you when it goes after that steak don’t blame the dog, OK? What we’re doing is we’re sending law enforcement out there and they learn very quickly that there is only one aspect of law enforcement that no matter how vigorously we do it it doesn’t make any difference and that’s things like drug enforcement.

No matter how many drug arrests we make...There was a drug bust in the late 1960s in New York City – a huge drug bust. In fact it was such a big deal that they made two movies out of it. One was called “The French Connection” and the other one was called “Panic in Needle Park.” It starred Al Pacino. That movie was about the shortage that was on the streets of New York for about a month and a half of heroin because of this huge drug bust.

That huge drug bust was 9 pounds of heroin - 9 pounds of heroin. Now the reason I make a point of that is we are seizing these drugs now by the ton and there’s never a “panic in needle park”. There’s never a shortage on the street. That’s where we have come from the late 1960s trying to follow this policy.

It is simply dysfunctional. It does not work. In fact I talked to my harm reduction friends in this movement and I often say to them if you’re honestly going to talk about harm reduction the first thing you should talk about is the harm that the policy of prohibition is causing because most of the problems we have are caused by the policy of prohibition not by the drugs or not by the other problems that we have.

So let’s get the cops out of that. Let’s get the cops ... You know what’s interesting? In Boston they had that bombing at the marathon and then they went out to look for that guy that was hiding in the boat. They searched many houses – mostly illegal searches.

There’s two things that I want to comment about that. One was I was kind of amazed that there were no ancillary arrests in any of those searches. What I mean by ancillary arrests is they went in looking for the bomber but when they went into the house there was a bong sitting on the table or there was the smell of marijuana – none of those things happened.

Now I can’t believe that they searched all those houses and didn’t see something but they knew they were there to find the guy that was hurting other people not to go after the morality laws so there was none of that.

And, secondly, when they finally got the guy out of the boat and started pulling their people back off the scene the people were standing in the streets cheering the police and applauding the police. That’s because that was a perfect example of what law enforcement is supposed to do.

I don’t think we’ll ever be loved as much as we love firefighters but if we go out there and all we’re doing is protecting people from other people doing them harm I think people will actually start to like us a little bit.

DEAN BECKER: That is the hope that we can return respect for law enforcement, that we can do the jobs that most of us signed up for and to protect and serve rather than go after “little Johnny” for a bag of weed.

PETER CHRIST: Absolutely. I used to tell my...I was a field training officer before I started getting promoted. On the last day that I would have a session with my officer I would say to them, “Here’s two last things that I want to tell you. One is we have sent you to school. You’ve spent 6 weeks with me. We taught you how to do the job. It’s your job now to fit all that information into your personality and figure out how you’re going to do the job.”

The second thing I always told them is, “And remember every time you make an arrest you’re arresting your boss because you work for the people. Trust me, if you look at it that way, you don’t call them scumbag before you arrest them. You say sir, mr. or whatever.” That’s the kind of dignity we need to restore to our profession.

One other thing I want to mention. I had a friend of mine on the job and he used to say that if you are going to have a military in your country and a police force in your country the military is going to be trained on the east coast and the police force could be trained on the west coast.

What he meant by that is that’s how much separation there should be between those two trainings. Right now with this drug war we are training police with military tactics and it’s not our job. The best example I can give you of that is Waco, Texas.

If you remember when that incident happened down in Waco when the ATF went in they had been trained for two weeks before by the military on how to go so that’s the way they went in. Then when they went in the shooting started. As they were pulling their dead and wounded ATF officers off the scene I remember one of the officers as he was walking back by the microphone said, “We couldn’t shoot unless we had a definite target.”

The military concept is if you’re taking fire from that building blow up the building. Our concept is if you’re taking fire from that building find the guy that’s shooting at you and that’s what we have to return police to.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, we’ve been speaking with Mr. Peter Christ, founding member of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition.

I urge you to check out our website which is http://leap.cc

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JOHN MILANKE: My name is John Milanke. I am the owner and founder of United Patients Group. The United Patients Group is an informational site. It has been coined the webMd of the cannabis industry which I take as a major compliment.

It’s a website where patients can come and find out about different ailments, where to start, where to begin, what questions to ask. We have a “Ask Experts” section on there. But it’s also for products in this industry as well as other companies in this industry to launch their products as well as launch their companies on our site as welll.

You can find us at http://unitedpatientsgroup.com.

DEAN BECKER: There are more and more products, more and more services, more and more organizations stepping forward to take up the slack, to do what needs to be done, right?

JOHN MILANKE: The reason I started this almost 3 years ago is my father-in-law was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. It was actually 2 Superbowl Sundays ago to give you an idea so we’re coming up to three.

So stage 4 lung cancer which had mestasized to his brain. We really didn’t have that much information at that time. He went to an oncologist after doing a round of chemo and radiation and went from a healthy 77-year-old man to looking like a prisoner of war concentration camp victim.

I wheeled him in the wheelchair and he asked his oncologist how much time he had. She looked at him and us and said, “7 to 10 days.”

So instantly tears came out. We didn’t know what to do. I said, “Isn’t there anything we can do?” and they said morphine. I said, “I don’t want to offend anybody but it’s in the news everyday about medical cannabis and cancer.”

The oncologist said she knew nothing about it. “You can try it but it’s probably not going to work.”

So my wife and I ended up in panic education mode and at that point we down to our local dispensary club in California and got him an edible. All we wanted was for him to eat and get out of bed.

From there not only did he eat and get out of bed he was typing on the computer, he was raking. Prior to that he was in a wheelchair and only on oxygen. I’m proud to say that after this whole treatment the last nine months he’s had 2 brain scans and both have come back zero cancer detected.

The only thing he’s been on is cannabis oil every night before bed. We knew there were other people like us that did not know where to turn, where to go to a sight where they could feel comfortable out and that’s why coming up to 2 and one half years ago I started the United Patients Group.

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DEAN BECKER: Once again that was John Milanke. If you have a relative or a friend who is not getting better using regular pharmaceuticals I urge you to check out http://unitedpatientsgroup.com

I also urge you to check out my most recent videos now online at http://youtube.com/fdeanbecker

These new videos feature a tour of River Rock Wellness Center in Denver with great words of control, taxation and regulation as well as some great pics of some beautiful buds.

As always I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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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