01/22/20 Terence Hallinan

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Terence Hallinan

Former San Fran DA Terence Hallinan dead at 83, Texans for Safe Access Symposium featuring Dr. Sue Sisley, moderated by Shivawn Brady.

Audio file



JANUARY 22, 2020

DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, and the liars who support the drug war which empowers our terrorist enemies, enriches barbarous cartels, and gives reason for existence to tens of thousands of violent U.S. gangs who profit by selling contaminated drugs to our children. This is Cultural Baggage.

Hi friends. Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I am Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High and today we have got a tribute to a pioneer in marijuana reform, Terence Hallinan the former district attorney of San Francisco has passed away at the age of 83. Back in 2003 I got the chance to meet DA Hallinan and got an interview once I made it back to Houston. Here is a portion of that interview.

DEAN BECKER: Welcome to Cultural Baggage, Mr. Hallinan.

TERENCE HALLINAN: It is a pleasure to be with you.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, Sir. I already miss San Francisco, it is a wonderful town.

TERENCE HALLINAN: It is a great city with great people.

DEAN BECKER: I agree. I was born there and I should have just stayed. I don’t know how much news you get to hear from Texas but I am hoping that you have heard of the Tulia scandal, the Dallas sheetrock scandal, the Houston crime lab?

TERENCE HALLINAN: No. I don’t know about those.

DEAN BECKER: I will brief you quickly on what I think is the most outrageous of them and it is the Tulia scandal where they arrested 39 black people in one night for cocaine charges but when they made the arrest there were no drugs, no weapons, and no money was found.

TERENCE HALLINAN: Yes, I remember reading about that now that you mention it.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Sir. The recent happenings with it is that a gentleman named Tom Coleman who was the sole support for all of these arrests, had no back up whatsoever except for what he had written on his leg and he was indicted for perjury. Is seems now that they are going to take months if not years to let the people go that are in prison based on his testimony.

TERENCE HALLINAN: Uh huh. (UNINTELLIGIBLE) convicted in the past you mean?

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Sir. They can’t seem to figure out how to get them out of jail.

TERENCE HALLINAN: Yes, difficult.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Sir. I realize it is a Texas matter. I probably should stick to medical marijuana which I think we both have a great understanding of. I first want to tell you how grateful I am for your efforts to share the truth in regards to medical marijuana. Your speech at the NORML conference was just wonderful.

TERENCE HALLINAN: Well thank you, Dean.


TERENCE HALLINAN: Of course I have seen the truth of it here in San Francisco where everybody in this city knows somebody who swears their life is being prolonged by the use of marijuana.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Sir. I have seen instances of it where it is just so obvious in people with MS.

TERENCE HALLINAN: Yes. The people in some of the clubs or clinics here are full of sick people and there is no question.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Sir. I work hard here in Houston along with most of the crew in here at the show with me. We work together to try to bring drug reform to Houston, which is tough going.

TERENCE HALLINAN: It is a tough town.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, Sir. I wonder if you could share with my listeners some of the beginnings of what you may recall that made it possible in San Francisco and in California.

TERENCE HALLINAN: For me personally, back in the 80s an activist in this community named Dennis Peran put an initiative on the ballot for the San Francisco voters to have an opportunity to vote on what they thought about medical marijuana and 80% of them voted in favor of it. Under our charter when that happens then it is the responsibility of the board of supervisors to do something to follow through with that ballot initiative which I undertook. We had a hearing on medical marijuana which was one of the most amazing things I have ever attended. There was a police commissioner undergoing chemotherapy, three of the ten people still receiving legal marijuana for having contracted AIDS through blood transfusions, for leukemia, etc. People after people including experts, doctors, scientists, all testifying about the medical effectiveness of it when they got done with the hearing there wasn’t a dry eye in the committee room.

DEAN BECKER: Terence Hallinan was one hell of a nice man.

Folks all around the country are starting to learn the benefits of medical cannabis but in certain states like Texas while there is some progress, more progress needs to be made. There is a symposium coming to Texas next week which is entitled Medical Cannabis for Neurological Disorders. There will be six speakers at this event and we are lucky to have one of them with us at this time to talk about it, Dr. Sue Sisley. Hello, Sue.

DR. SISLEY: Hello, Dean. Thank you for having me.

DEAN BECKER: Sue, you are out there in Arizona working with medical cannabis?

DR. SISLEY: We are focused on conducting objective research to try to understand the risks and benefits of cannabis in the context of these FDA clinical trials. I have been disappointed to see how slow Texas is going on making these reforms that other similarly conservative states have already accomplished. Arizona is almost as conservative as Texas maybe in the same stratosphere when it comes to conservative values and yet we adopted a medical cannabis program years ago and we have a very mature system for over 200,000 patients to get safe, legal access to a natural flower. It has been really gratifying to see the patients who are benefitting and able to get some relief and find an alternative to some of the really toxic pharmaceuticals.

DEAN BECKER: I like to think there is a bit of osmosis if you will; the nexus to California which helped you guys a little bit to have a closer observation of the benefits they gained and the lack of blowback that they encountered from legalizing. What is your thought?

DR. SISLEY: It is possible because you are right, we have a lot of Californians going back and forth and now we have an influx of Californians that are relocating to Arizona so that may have helped more progressive thinking creep in but also remember that we proudly have a very liberal ballot initiative process so we have been enabling our voting public to reform laws for many decades. When our elected officials are lagging far behind the public the voters can come together and throw something on a ballot and circumvent a Neanderthal legislature and that has been an extremely important process for us. We have a lot of libertarian leaning republicans who don’t like seeing their elected officials dragging their feet on issues that they care about and in this case the libertarian leaning conservatives understood that investing so many millions of dollars in to chasing people who are using a God given plant seemed absurd to most commonsense tax payers and they wanted to see medical cannabis be the lowest law enforcement priority and they wanted to see sick people given safe, legal access to a lab tested flower. For almost ten years now we have had a program in place and even the naysayers have said that this has been an exemplary program and while it is not perfect and we know that it is not just sick and debilitated patients in Arizona who are accessing the program, there are undoubtedly plenty of recreational users who found their way through the system but all in all this has been a successful experiment that has lasted. Every year there is an attempt by prohibitionists to repeal this but it has never gotten any traction because the program has just gained more and more public support. People are recognizing that creating a path for truly sick people to have compassionate access to a natural flower is the right thing to do. Not only that, but it sparked other movements across the country for other plant based medicine. Everyone is desperate to find alternatives to Big Pharma who have the most toxic substances with terrible side effects. Plant based medicines are alternatives to these and they are voting with their feet by walking away from these pharmaceuticals. I am really pleased to see the patients who are demanding safer alternatives to chemicals and that is what we do. We have a nonprofit here at the Scottsdale Research Institute called Field to Healed which is a 501c3. The lab tries to raise funding to study plants and put plants through the entire FDA drug development process so that we can keep them as natural organic material rather than converting them in to synthetics that can be patented and make millions of dollars. We are just doing nonprofit drug development of plants and fungi, we are looking at mushrooms as well.

DEAN BECKER: You bring forward the recognition of the benefit that is being observed and admitted by more and more people. I have had working police chiefs and sheriffs talk to me on air about their relatives who are benefitting from medical cannabis here in the state of Texas. The few people who claimed to have these negative opinions, science, or whatever about cannabis are really just barking up the wrong tree and pissing in the wind. What is your thought there, Sue Sisley?

DR. SISLEY: The challenge is that the science is very anemic. There are right that we have thousands of controlled trials that are already suggesting that cannabis has benefits for a variety of conditions but the problem is that most of the studies did not show that cannabis is better. There need to be randomized control trials that verify the efficacy and those are the studies that have been systematically impeded by our government for so many decades now. A great example of this is the National Academy of Science Report. The NAS Report came out in 2017, and at that time it was groundbreaking. It was the first federal agency to acknowledge that cannabis could be a treatment for a few conditions so they took 10,000 articles on cannabis and reviewed the data to see which ones actually showed strong evidence of cannabis as a medicine. They determined that there were only three areas that held scientific evidence of benefit and those were pain, nausea and vomiting associated with chemo, and spasticity of multiple sclerosis. They felt there was strong scientific evidence to support cannabis for those three areas but nothing else. So all of these other conditions that cannabis commonly associated did not show evidence. Even so it was pretty impressive to see that in one breath our federal government says that cannabis is Schedule 1 and has no medical benefit and then their own federal agency on the backside is issuing a report showing that cannabis does have medical benefits. What I am saying is that even in areas where we think of cannabis commonly used such as with epilepsy, inflammatory bowel disease, etc. it did not show evidence and that is because the government has been so shrewd at impeding this work. They have been very tactical in keeping this monopoly in place at University of Mississippi, so we are forced to buy cannabis from the one federally legal supplier in the U.S. in order to do randomized controlled trials.

DEAN BECKER: Is it still pitiful stuff? Is it still just ragged and freeze dried?

DR. SISLEY: Yes. The tough thing is that often this plant material has been languishing in freezers and (UNINTELLIGIBLE) for years before we get them. The cannabis we received from NIDA was excessively moldy with over 100,000 in CFU of mold in all of the batches. The biggest challenge we have with it is that it is over processed in order to meet the GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice), they seem to pulverize the flower with all the trichomes that carry the medicine. They are so delicate and when you crush that in order to standardize the batch, you ruin a lot of the efficacy of the medicine. The issue is that it doesn’t resemble real world flower, and if it did I wonder if we might have different outcomes in these studies with more robust data where we are able to demonstrate the efficacy. This flower is probably more than adequate for safety studies where we are looking at harmful effects or addiction potential. When you are trying to look at cannabis as a medicine and do true drug development research to get hemp flower through the FDA process, there is no way that cannabis will ever be adequate for that. We can’t even use it in Phase 3 Trials because it cannot be made or sold as a prescription medicine. Whatever drug you use in FDA Phase 3 Trials is the drug that you have to go to market with later –


DR. SISLEY: -- so it is fundamentally inadequate and we desperately need other suppliers in the U.S. in order to support the work of these scientists. Our efforts to persuade the DEA to license other growers for research besides the University of Mississippi have been completely beaten back. Even our lawsuit last year at the D.C. Circuit Court was not successful. The DEA claimed that they would move forward and license other growers but once the court dismissed the lawsuit there was no pressure on the DEA to make progress on this. I am not hopeful that will ever change. In the meantime, scientists will continue to be forced to buy this low grade cannabis from the University of Mississippi and monopolies are inherently problematic. This entity has no competition. For 51 years they have enjoyed the only government enforced monopoly in the country.

DEAN BECKER: Sue, it sounds to me like it is almost like bad Mexican weed that has been dipped in the river, stored in the desert in the sun for a couple of months. I am sorry to hear that we are still dealing with that situation. What I want to close out with is this thought. Every state and every person in authority wants another study. They think there is not enough information, yet in Israel they are giving it to the old folks at the nursing homes because they have studied it for decades and they feel quite comfortable in doing so. Your closing thoughts there to wrap us up, Sue Sisley.

DR. SISLEY: There is an immense amount of safety data about cannabis showing that it does have true medical value for a variety of target symptoms and illnesses but the tough thing is that most of these studies are observational and not the gold standard, randomized controlled trials. I am afraid that is not going to change any time soon because the government funds that are available to do this research is minimal and has been for many years. The government has refused to provide grants to study cannabis as a medicine; only as a drug of abuse. There is a (UNINTELLIGIBLE) of data on cannabis strain science showing what varieties of cannabis are best for what illnesses. I feel like that is what is really missing now.

In the meantime, there is no excuse. We have over 30 states that have successfully adopted medical and created a safe path for sick people to get compassionate access in spite of what some hardcore scientist would say is a lack of scientific evidence. I think that what we have to acknowledge is that the medications that are currently available through conventional pharmaceuticals are so disappointing. I have so many patients who have exhausted every conventional path with their standard pharmaceuticals and they are still suffering. This is why utilizing cannabis or other plant based medicines to treat their illnesses should be allowed, especially in a state like Texas that covets personal liberty. This is so sensible and the fact that other ultra conservative neighboring states including Arizona and Utah have adopted this I am hoping that Texas will finally follow suit and create a system for the sickest patients in their state to get this.

DEAN BECKER: Once again, we have been speaking with Dr. Sue Sisley out there in Arizona. She is going to be here in Texas next week as part of the six part discussion being presented in a series of cities here in the state of Texas called the Medical Cannabis for Neurological Disorders Symposium. Sue, what can you tell us about the event?

DR. SISLEY: It is a four city tour starting in Plano then on to Houston, Austin, and finish up in El Paso. We are just trying to galvanize some of the best minds in the cannabis space to provide objective information about how cannabis works, how it doesn’t work, what other states have done and how Texas can come forward to embrace these different models and provide this access to people. Hopefully it will bring some juice in to the next legislative session that I am assuming is already underway for you guys. It is a matter of getting some of these elected officials and some of their constituents to come out and hear the real facts about cannabis and get away from the emotion and the hysteria.

It’s time to play Name That Drug by its Side Effects. According to the BBC this drug has no known side effects. The drug contains a molecule 10,000 times as active as glucose. It goes to the midbrain and makes those nerve cells fire as if you were full but you have not eaten. Times Up! The Answer: P57 Hoodia from a Kalahari Desert cactus marketed by Pfizer. Look for the ads in your email.

FEMALE VOICE: My name is Shivawn Brady, I am the Vice President of Regulatory Affairs and Compliance and I work for Justice Grown, which is a national cannabis company founded by Loevy and Loevy Associates, they are a civil rights firm based out of Chicago, Illinois. I believe they hold the record for exonerating more wrongfully convicted people than any other private law firm in the Midwest. About five years ago they started a cannabis company in Illinois and then branched out to California, which is where I am from. I joined Justice Grown in 2016.

DEAN BECKER: Shivawn, you are teaming up with Texans for Safe Access for an ongoing series of symposiums across the state of Texas. Please tell us about that?

SHIVAWN BRADY: Texans for Safe Access is a chapter of the group Americans for Safe Access, which is a national organization that supports the safe and therapeutic research for medical cannabis. I am active in our local chapter back home. We are teaming up with them and their Chair, Nico Murillo, has been incredibly helpful in putting together this symposium. We kick off the tour in Plano on the 27th, which is next Monday and then we proceed to Houston, Austin and finish in El Paso.

DEAN BECKER: The time for those events is 9:00 am for each one?

SHIVAWN BRADY: That is correct with the exception of Austin where we will be starting at 9:30 am, and El Paso where we will be starting at 10:00 am.

DEAN BECKER: If folks wanted to learn more about this where can they go on the web to get more information?

SHIVAWN BRADY: You can find all of the events at, or you can go to our national website: and all of the information regarding the events will be there including the agenda, speakers, and specific schedule for each of these.

DEAN BECKER: Earlier in the show folks got a chance to hear from Dr. Sue Sisley, one of the six participants who will be on this panel but who else will be involved?

SHIVAWN BRADY: Dr. Ogadinma Obie, who is an ER physician here in Texas will give an overview of the endocannabinoid system, Susan Hays who is a private attorney out of Austin has been very active in crafting hemp policy, Esme Thoman will discuss Texas regulatory overview and legal updates with regard to Texas, Dr. Sisley will discuss the therapeutic potential of medical cannabis and the government barriers to research, Barbara Sciandra and Cheryl Wilson who are pharmacists with Justice Grown will be discussing medical cannabis dosing.

DEAN BECKER: Okay, and the name of this symposium is Medical Cannabis for Neurological Disorders, which is an area of concern to a lot of people in Texas, wouldn’t you think?

SHIVAWN BRADY: Yes. From my experience there are lots of folks that are dealing with these types of conditions and are looking for relief for some of the symptoms they are facing day to day. We are interested to hear from our panelists and presenters about some of their research and work helping to support people with these conditions and their use of medical cannabis.

DEAN BECKER: Again folks, we have been speaking with Shivawn Brady with Justice Grown. Please tell folks where they can learn more and how they can participate, Shivawn?

SHIVAWN BRADY: Thanks. You can find out more about the events at: This is a free event and you are welcome to attend. We are asking folks to register ahead of time at the website. You can also find out about the events on Facebook at

DEAN BECKER: Alright. Next Tuesday, January 28th, I will be attending the Medical Cannabis for Neurological Disorders Symposium at the Houston Marriott – Medical Center.

Again, I remind you that because of prohibition you don’t know what is in that bag. Please be careful.

To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the unvarnished truth. Cultural Baggage is a production of the Pacifica Radio Network, archives are permanently stored at the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy, and we are all still tap dancing on the edge of an abyss.