06/02/13 Karen Garrison

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Tommy Chong visits Austin as part of national Cheech and Chong Tour + Karen Garrison of FAMM discusses racial bias in the drug war

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / June 2, 2013



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.


DEAN BECKER: Thank you for joining us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. Karen Garrison works with Families Against Mandatory Minimums. Her sons, Laurence and Lamont, were sentenced to 19.5 and 15.5 years in prison under the mandatory minimum laws.

Because that topic is so serious she will be joining us a little be later in the program but first up this interview I had with Mr. Tommy Chong in Austin. Cheech and Chong are now on a national tour so let’s get right to it.


DEAN BECKER: We’re here in Austin with Mr. Tommy Chong. How are you doing, Tommy?

TOMMY CHONG: I’m doing fine.

DEAN BECKER: You and Cheech are on another national tour.

TOMMY CHONG: Yep. It’s our third.

DEAN BECKER: This is an example of longevity. You guys have been at this…you’re in your 70s right now, right?


DEAN BECKER: 75 and still going strong nationwide. Tommy, you and Cheech have had some lapses in touring. Cheech was doing a partner of Don Johnson on Miami Vice. I kind of miss that show.

Of course you’re best known on TV perhaps for The 70s Show and that’s still going strong. It’s on 3 or 4 channels every day. What else do you have going on?

TOMMY CHONG: We did an animated feature of all of our earlier record bits that is out now. It’s called “Cheech and Chong’s Animated Film.” We’re doing this tour. I’m really doing a lot of advocacy work for the legalization even though we got Colorado and Washington we still got to get the federal government to recognize that pot is a medicine and get it from Schedule I to Schedule II at the least. That’s basically my goal in life.

DEAN BECKER: It’s an issue whose time has come. It’s starting to catch on around the country isn’t it?

TOMMY CHONG: Yeah thanks to the computer, Wikipedia, we’re getting to the point where they can’t put out those lies. The minute anybody says anything you go right to your computer and check the facts. Anytime you check the facts on marijuana it comes out positive.

Just recently I was on a show and mentioned the fact that I had cured my cancer partially with cannabis. My doctor from Victoria who is a well-known naturalist healer saw me on television and wrote me a beautiful letter which I’m going to post on my Facebook.

He added to the fact that he personally witnessed healings of terminally ill cancer patients through the use of marijuana. We’re on the right track.

DEAN BECKER: You mentioned that it worked for you and you hear these drug warriors saying, “That’s anecdotal and doesn’t mean anything.” But the fact of the matter is there’s 2-year-old children that are benefitting. There are people all across this country that are benefitting. It is no longer anecdotal.

TOMMY CHONG: No, it is no longer anecdotal and it’s on CNN where they showed an autistic child being treated with cannabis and they showed the before and after pictures. So they can’t hide the fact anymore.

They got to empty the prisons. They got to let all the drug offenders out. They got to either close the prisons or turn them into schools.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, education rather than …

TOMMY CHONG: Yeah, rather than punishment.

DEAN BECKER: Marijuana is legal in a couple states and nearly so in 18 others or so but there are so many restrictions that the government keeps trying to put on the pot trade – huge tax from the city or the state – they don’t do that for any other medicine.

TOMMY CHONG: I’m all for it. I’m all for the tax and here’s why. There is such little cost in manufacturing the plant. You basically throw the seeds in, you feed it and it grows. You harvest it and it’s done.

We should be giving 10, maybe 20, maybe 50% to the government as long as they use that money to help the people instead of…

DEAN BECKER: Some treatment, some education…

TOMMY CHONG: Yeah. Schools and health - health education. We don’t need any more education on to deal with pot. We know how to do that. Some of the restrictions they said they don’t want the pot stores near schools or near rehab centers which is ridiculous. What’s the difference where you buy your pot?

DEAN BECKER: It’s like it’s somehow contagious or something.

TOMMY CHONG: Yeah, like somehow you’re going to get the wrong kind of people hanging out at the pot shop. I’ve been to the pot shops. You know the kind of people who hang out there? People in wheelchairs, people on crutches, people with ailments – that’s the kind of people who hang out there.

DEAN BECKER: I saw a story a couple weeks back about this couple. I think they had a daughter who had these seizures – 300 a day. They found through the use of cannabis that it was down to 1 or sometimes 0. They moved to Colorado.

TOMMY CHONG: You’re going to see a lot of those stories. My son lives there now and I’m looking for a reason to get there because I want to live in a state that is sensible, has a sensible policy.

DEAN BECKER: Let me come back to that list of absurd ideas they are trying to lay on the marijuana industry. Another one is no profit allowed. Now do you think Merck and Pfizer would have a company if they couldn’t make any profits?

TOMMY CHONG: Well, you can get by that real easy because most corporations don’t have profit because they have it set up in such a way that by the time you divide up all your money you’re in the red so you don’t have to pay taxes so that’s a no-brainer. Yeah, they want no profit – fine. They’re really cheating themselves.

It’s vindictive in a lot of ways with their stupid regulations. They’ve got stupid laws on the books. We don’t need to worry about those details because that’s all they are – details.

DEAN BECKER: I watch some of these stupid shows – the cop TV shows. They go into somebody’s house with a grow room that is quasi-legal in say California or Colorado and then they say you have too many baggies which makes you a dealer so you’re under arrest. It’s …

TOMMY CHONG: Again, all they are doing is treading water. They are dinosaurs. They are sinking in the mud and they’re dying and their tails are just …They’re death throes That’s the death throes of the DEA because their days are numbered and they’re trying to grab the little bit of cash that they can grab.

They’re still arresting people. Marc Emery is still in jail. He’ll be out…he’ll have done his 5 years I think next year. This is where they have it legal in a couple states and almost legal in America and he got arrested in Canada for selling seeds over the internet which is legal in Canada.

They violated every kind of international treaty you can think of to be vindictive and put him in jail. They put me in jail for the same reason – a ridiculous reason.

The way the world works is the Bible calls it “casting your bread on the water.” It will come back to you and that’s what happened with me. Yeah, I took a hit but the return has been so great that I would take the hit again and again and again because I know I’m right and have done nothing wrong. If going to jail…hey, they put Nelson Mandela in jail. They executed Jesus.

We’re dealing with the same people. If these people can deal with it I sure can deal with it.

DEAN BECKER: I wanted to come back to the thought that in the last few years they have come up with these new extracts – the dab, the oil – all of this stuff that is starting to be circulated and that was instrumental in your cure. Let’s talk about that.

TOMMY CHONG: That’s when we’re talking about serious medicine because like the dab and the extracts and just recently I’ve got a crop growing on my roof and I just moved them up there and we had to do some serious trimming. I took the leaves and I juiced the leaves – cold-pressed the leaves and then I drank it with the growers that are helping me.

There was reports saying there is no THC in the leaves. I got to dispute that. I got a buzz that was so good and so special. So if you juice the leaves and you drink it expect the buzz. I went and played golf after and I drove incredibly. My putting and everything else was not great but I was driving that ball down the range.

I’ve been experimenting on my own and I know that the health benefit of the extract is not only beneficial for the disease but it also…one of the down things and you have to warn people that do this – there is a difference from recreation to medicine.

If you’re dealing with it for medicine to treat cancers or to treat anything you do have to dose quite heavily and you should be in bed for the time or near the bed.

DEAN BECKER: Sure and not driving around.

TOMMY CHONG: Oh, no – I could hardly walk and same with the dab thing. That was crazy. That was too crazy. It’s almost like crack. You inhale it and, whoa – it just knocks you down.

DEAN BECKER: I had a taste of some dab in Washington, D.C. at a conference and they didn’t warn me. I took a normal hit and I damn near coughed out a lung. That stuff is powerful.

TOMMY CHONG: Yeah, and they never do. See, that’s one of the things that we have to educate people because, like I say, I fall into the medical category. I’m doing this for medical purposes. My recreational tokes are so tiny I’ve got a stockpile of weed at home that I have to give away because I’ll take a quarter and it will last me 3 months because I do so little because I don’t need that much. I just need that little buzz – that little cocktail high, you know?

DEAN BECKER: 28 years ago I gave up alcohol and I smoke about one-half to about one joint a day and that kind of takes the edge off, allows me to be a little high and not long for that alcohol.

TOMMY CHONG: Yeah, it takes away the craving.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, it is a miracle in so many ways.

TOMMY CHONG: I quit smoking using weed. I was addicted to cigarettes. I threw the cigarette package out of a car window in 1958 and I never touched a cigarette since. Every time I felt like a cigarette I’d light a joint. After a while you say to yourself, “Well, I can’t get stoned today so I’d better put that down.”

Next thing I know a year later – it took a year before the tobacco was out of my system – but now it’s gone.

DEAN BECKER: I know you have a show to do here in a little bit. I want to close this out with a thought that forms a question. I hope that someday soon you and me and maybe Cheech can sit down and smoke one legally anywhere in America because this insanity, this gross waste of money and time and lives has just gone on way too long.

TOMMY CHONG: It has. If you think about it the pot laws are the last racism law on the books in America. It’s pure racism and when that goes America will be a better place. The whole world will be a better place.


DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again, that was my discussion with Mr. Tommy Chong. Here in just a few seconds we’re going to bring in our guest, Karen Garrison, from Families Against Mandatory Minimums. But first, because this is Cultural Baggage, it’s necessary to do the following segment.


It’s time to play: "Name That Drug - By It’s Side Effects!"

Hypertensive crisis, Coronary artery vasospasm, Transient myocardial ischemia, Myocardial infarction, Ventricular tachycardia and Ventricular fibrillation.


Time’s up! The answer from GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals:

Imitrex! For Migraines


DEAN BECKER: Alright, my friends, we do have our guest online. As I said she works with Families Against Mandatory Minimums. She worked for years, decades actually to protect her sons. She now works to protect all our children. I want to bring in our guest, Karen Garrison. How are you, Karen?

KAREN GARRISON: Good evening, Dean. How are you?

DEAN BECKER: I’m good. Good to hear your voice again. Long time listeners may remember Karen as we had her on air a few times back when her sons were still in prison. Your 2 sons, Lamont and Laurence, are now free men, correct?

KAREN GARRISON: Oh, yes. It’s been some year now. Laurence has been home almost 4 years and Lamont has been home almost 2 now.

DEAN BECKER: It’s wonderful to have them back isn’t it?

KAREN GARRISON: Oh, I can’t even express it. I can’t even express it.

DEAN BECKER: Folks may not be aware but she works to educate other parents, other families who face similar circumstance. Right, Karen?

KAREN GARRISON: Sure I do. I know how hard it was getting a grip of things when I started in 1998 when they found my sons guilty and I got off the courtroom floor. I know it took me about 2 days to get a grip but from then on I was running around trying to get help.

If you know a lot of times I realize so many things you don’t know that you have to go through those stumbling blocks until you get somewhere. Most people it might take them 6 or 7 or even 8 years. A lot of people I talk to it’s taken them 5 years before they even realize that they’re loved ones are not coming home.

For me I knew that they weren’t home and so I had to work to try to get them out.

DEAN BECKER: I don’t know how instrumental I may have been but you have your own weekly drug war show now, correct?

KAREN GARRISON: Right. I try to make a difference in a responsible way. It’s called the “Sunday Evening Weigh In.” I also have something that I do every first of the month on Monday night at 11 o’clock EST called the “After Hour Late Night Show.”

I started out just giving a news but I wasn’t able to fill in the slot from Sunday but then it became something that people needed to find solutions because everybody knows what the problem is, everybody can talk about the disparity – the racial issues and things like that – but they’re not giving anyone solutions.

The first solution is getting some money. A lot of them have to take your people in prison or their children and stuff like that so that portion is real important because it gives them solutions and tells them how they can do things on their own.

The main thing is to help the impacted family members with news that matters. I also have a legal consultant that comes on and gives them some things from the prisoner’s perspective about filing motions and things like that.

So the main thing is to be able to make a difference in a responsible way. I never knew that I could go up on Capitol Hill here in D.C. and sit somewhere where these things are open to the public. I didn’t know it because I had no need for it.

A lot of things I try to put out so they’ll know. Every Sunday…It may be a Sunday before Christmas or something like that or before a holiday and a lot of people are thinking they’re not coming on but mostly every Sunday I try not to miss giving some information with news that matters and things like that.

It’s important because I know what happened to me.

DEAN BECKER: Right to help other folks avoid those same stumbling blocks that you found in your way, correct?

KAREN GARRISON: Right. So they can start rolling to help their son in prison. My son would not have come out this early if the law hadn’t changed.

DEAN BECKER: It was good folks like you who were nipping at the heels of these politicians that help bring about those changes.

Before we move on tell the folks the name of your shows and how they can tune in.

KAREN GARRISON: It’s called the “Mommy Activist and Sons Radio Show”, “The Sunday Evening Weigh In”, the “After Hour Late Night Show” and then we have “The High Power Mainline Call-In” which you can do.

The Call-In number is 1-347-994-1713 or you can get online at http://blogtalkradio.com/mommieactivist or you can email me and I’ll send you the link and that’s mommieactivist@gmail.com

DEAN BECKER: Good. The more information we can share, the more we can educate for potential change the sooner that change is going to come about, right?

KAREN GARRISON: You’re exactly right. You know you don’t know how instrumental you were. I want your listeners to know you were very instrumental especially in the times when we were first ticking off trying to get some information off and trying to get information. You allowed me to get on the radio.

I think the first time I was visiting my son for the first time when he got transferred to Kentucky and I got on the radio with you from the hotel room. It was very important because he was able to tell the other prisoners that something was going on for them – that some information was getting put out about their situation and it’s very important.

You were always so kind. I know when the boys came home and I called and let you speak to them and let you know and let them appreciate people when it wasn’t that serious to everyone but you took an interest in it so it was very instrumental.

DEAN BECKER: Well, thank you for that, Karen. It makes my heart feel glad to know that I made a real difference somewhere.

You bring to mind something that I’ve been wanting to do for a long time and this is just a shout out to the prisoners – mostly here in Texas that tune in. The send me letters and appeals and want me to do something in this real world.

Folks, I’m on Social Security. I can’t afford attorneys but I am working on your behalf – just know that much.

Karen, you mentioned the disparity. The police stop blacks and Latinos at a rate much higher than whites. In New York City 80% of the stops were blacks and Latinos but whites were only frisked about 8% of the time. It is, as Tommy Chong was saying, racially biased.

KAREN GARRISON: Right. It is just a way of life for most people. Like I tell people this racism has become just a trend. It’s in everything. Racism is in everything. It’s good that we can talk about it but I want people to be able to talk about it with me the same way you can talk about it when I’m not there you can talk about it when I am there.

These conversations can get out there. They may cause hard feelings but you have to get these conversations out there because you can’t get passed it – it’s a part of it but at least you’ll know where that person stands.

Everybody is impacted by someone in prison.

DEAN BECKER: Another example – in many states African Americans are frequently and illegally excluded from jury duty because they don’t want them…I don’t know…the DA doesn’t want them on the jury.

KAREN GARRISON: Well, you know the most powerful person are the prosecutors. You can do what you want to do but those prosecutors hold the key. When they’re controlling and running stuff there’s not much you can do but see how fast they are going to run and how many cars they are going to use.

When my sons got arrested I didn’t have money. They were graduating from college. That was my dream. That was the end of some success with them and maybe me a little relaxation but it didn’t happen like that.

You think about how you get stuck. When something like this happens you get stuck. And no need thinking the Public Defender or these court appointed lawyers are going to be 100% for you because that’s not happening.

DEAN BECKER: Right, it’s good ‘ol boy system too often.

KAREN GARRISON: Right, it’s not happening.

DEAN BECKER: I mentioned to the listeners that you work with Families Against Mandatory Minimums. Tell them about that organization.

KAREN GARRISON: I’m been working there since 2003 and that’s kind of a long time for most of the organizations. They are a non-profit and they work to change the laws in sentencing reform. They lobby – they do everything from A to Z on a grass top level to get these laws changed to make sure…

Every Monday we have meetings to make sure there are no more mandatory minimums if we can stop them and there are no more bad mandatory minimums. They have mandatory minimums stuck into laws that you have to try to find them before they become law.

They work really hard with that. It’s like you see them every day. People say, “They’re not really doing nothing.”

No, they didn’t tell you today what they did but every day somebody goes out there to the Hill. If it’s not Molly Guild it’s Mary Price-Forest, the president…Julie Stewart – she doesn’t have credit card – she’ll go too. Everybody goes. You have case researchers, you have the communication director, Monica Pratt, was there when I got there. You have Andrea Strong which is the people person that takes every bit of ache and pain to listen to your story and then take it apart and know who needs to do what for you.

They work really hard and it’s a 20-year-old membership-based organization.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again that’s Karen Garrison speaking for Families Against Mandatory Minimums. It is at http://famm.org

Something else about the disparity…the lopsidedness of it all is that for these drug cases only about 3-5% ever even go to trial. The prosecutor threatens to “take the 5 or I’ll give you 20” and that’s a corruption of justice as well.

KAREN GARRISON: They’re scared to death when they go in. You know you’re not going to get a bond so most likely you’re in prison, you know. You sit and listen to all these horror stories and whether you’re guilty or innocent isn’t even the question. It’s how are you going to get out of this.

They say if you go to trial you’re going to get 30 years or you’re going to get 50 years. They don’t tell you…I know a girl who got 13 life sentences. I’ve got to do my investigation but another guy if he’s anywhere near true he got stacked with 27 life sentences.

So when you go to court you’re afraid…a lot of people who aren’t even guilty take the plea no matter what they give them. They punish you when you don’t take it.

DEAN BECKER: We’re talking about the racial disparity. The longer the sentence the more likely it is that a non-white person will be getting it.

KAREN GARRISON: Right, African-American….you know they started in on the blacks. Let’s be real about it.


KAREN GARRISON: They started in on the blacks. They kick and push us and do all they want to do and we stand there and take it because what else can we do?! Then it comes into play that you have to get the Latinos, the Hispanics, they’re coming in because all the blacks are all on paper.

If you go and check on any paper – some whole towns they have all felony convictions but everybody’s got a record so then they went into the Hispanics and nobody has money but everybody gets sent up as a kingpin.

DEAN BECKER: We’re running out of time here, Karen. One more time point folks toward your show.

KAREN GARRISON: It’s http://blogtalkradio.com/mommieactivist. I want to thank you, once again, from the bottom of my heart, Dean Becker, for having me on your show.

DEAN BECKER: Karen, you’re a joy to my heart as well. Thank you and be sure to say hi to Lamont and Laurence for me.

KAREN GARRISON: I certainly will.

DEAN BECKER: As we’re running out of time I want to encourage you, dear listener, if you’re son or family member is not in jail you know someone who is or was for a minor, bogus drug charge. It’s time to speak up. These politicians, the media is beginning to speak up and it’s just time to do your part.

Karen Garrison, thank you so much.

KAREN GARRISON: Thank you so much and don’t forget June the 17th in Washington, D.C. the Answer to the Black World is having a march here.

DEAN BECKER: As always I remind you, once again, that because of prohibition you don’t know what is 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