09/04/11 Richard Lee

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Oaksterdam Cannabis Street Fair I with Richard Lee, Debbie Goldsberry, Steven De Angelo, Dr. Michael Aldrich, Michelle Aldrich, Steve Bloom, Marsha Rosenbaum & Mary Jane Borden

Audio file


Cultural Baggage / September 4, 2011



DEAN BECKER: This is Dean Becker reporting from Oaksterdam, California where they held a major cannabis festival right in front of City Hall in Oakland, California. The artist you are listening to is the Real One.

SINGER: Smokin’ dope cuz herb is superb
Don’t run from the jeers – spread the word.

Ask Rick Simpson, he got the answer
Find out how he cured cancer

Look it up on YouTube, show a friend or two
It might be worth a shot to save a life or two

It’s amazing what a little hemp oil can do
Especially when it kills what I lost my mom to

And it’s illegal, it saves people
We don’t get another chance – no sequel

So why we wastin’ time fighting against this medicine?
Putting people like Eddy Lepp in federal prison

I’m on a mission with this marijuana movement
To get the word out to get the facts proven

We strong, we’re stoned, we’re ?
Kick back take a hit from the bong

It’s just a plant and it’s called marijuana
It was put out here to use it if you wanna


DEAN BECKER: Alright, again, this is Dean Becker. You know every time I come to California I see more and more indications that we have finally won the battle of truth in regards to the use of this herb.

And, again, this Expo was held in front of City Hall – quite literally in front of City Hall. You go behind this stage and there’s the front door to City Hall. It was also wrapped around City Hall and in front of the State Tax Accounting Office as well. And it turns out that both Oakland and the State of California very much enjoyed the hundreds of thousands of dollars they get each year from taxing cannabis right there in Oakland.

OK, we’ve got a lot of stuff for you this week. I’ll tell what, we’re going to jump right into a panel that was held here at this cannabis gathering. It features Mr. Richard Lee, the President of Oaksterdam University - as well as Debbie Goldsberry, Dr. Mike Aldrich and his wife, Michelle. We’ll also hear from Mr. Steven De Angelo, the head of the Harborside Health Center – as well as Mr. Steve Bloom, former editor of High Times who served as moderator of this panel.

But first we hear from the former Houstonian, Richard Lee.


RICHARD LEE: A hell of a day. One more battle won, it looks like, today anyway, as far as getting the city to support the cannabis businesses. A lot of people don’t know that Oakland has passed the only law that makes private cannabis sales and cultivation the lowest priority – Measure Z here.

We have a number of Measure Z clubs so we don’t have to just be medical here in Oakland. The citizens of Oakland, 65% have already endorsed legalizing it for all adults and the majority voted for Prop 19 here in Alameda County.

So since 2004 when Measure Z passed, we’ve had a number of Measure Z clubs open and there’s more opening up. Oaksterdam is really taking root and it’s been great to see. So I want to thank all of you for coming here. You can find out more about the Measure Z clubs in our tourist guide and you can get those in the Model T right behind you there.

Carl, wave at everybody, the ambassador of Oaksterdam with Beatrice a 1927 Model T. You can come around on Fridays and Saturdays and get rides in the Model T. Thanks again, Steve and everybody else here who works so hard and risks so much to free cannabis.

STEVE BLOOM: Richard, let me ask you one more question. Do you have one more minute? Everybody on the panel I asked, “Becoming a pioneer and what led you here.” So I remember before you ever came here you were using, right? And you came here after getting involved there.

So what was it like for you starting out? What was your experience getting involved in the marijuana movement?

RICHARD LEE: Back in Texas we did Legal Marijuana: The Hemp Store. We were one of the early proponents of hemp trying to promote and educate people on the industrial uses of cannabis. We were amazing successful. We expected to get busted, you know, being in Texas, but we had a lot of support.

It really shows you that when you come out of the closet, so to speak, you get a lot more support than you might think. You think everybody’s going to come down on you and instead of everybody criticizing us we had school teachers driving in from Galveston (an hour away) to pick up copies of the Emperor Wears No Clothes. And really good response and reaction to all of the hemp information. So, it was very encouraging, actually to see that even in Texas, you can stand up.

STEVE BLOOM: When did you decide to come here? What steered your move out to the Bay area?

RICHARD LEE: When I heard about Dennis Peron and the San Francisco Buyers Club. I was originally planning on moving to San Francisco and working with Dennis and then I met Jeff Jones and wound up in Oakland. I’m very glad I did because it’s 10 degrees warmer here in Oakland.

STEVE BLOOM: Bringing things a little up to date. What’s happening in 2012 as far as the upcoming initiative and will California legalize marijuana in 2012?

RICHARD LEE: I’d have to say at the moment it doesn’t look good. There’s a number of initiatives out there but I don’t think any of them have the funding to get on the ballot unfortunately. And unfortunately a lot of the people, the organizations who said wait until 2012 are now saying wait until 2016 or 2020 or 2024 or whenever they decide to do something.

I think there’s a lot of local initiatives going on. There may be more Measure Z type things allowing local cities to tax and regulate sales for adults and things like that and pushing the envelope on total legalization. Because we all know that while it is medicine, it really does help a lot of sick people – on the other hand it should be legal for adults.

I like to steal the old line from the 70s Saturday Night Live, “It’s a floor wax and a dessert topping.”

STEVE BLOOM: Does anybody on the panel want to weigh in on this subject…the general idea of legalizing in California and whether it’s going to happen and when?


DEAN BECKER: Next up we hear from Dr. Michael Aldrich.


MICHAEL ALDRICH: I want to warn people that the initiative process which has been our best hope for real reform in the marijuana movement, the politicians are going to try to [expletive deleted] the initiative process this year. They’ve already started. They want to limit initiatives to only major elections and not the primary elections. And secondly they want have some registration of who’s controlling the initiatives.

I’m in favor of that second one. The reality is that the initiative process has been bought out – mostly by the Republicans, I must say, in California, because of the discovery that it’s very easy to raise a few million dollars and pay your signature gatherers who have no connection to the issue that you are promoting.

It’s very unlike what we did in 72 with real volunteers who really believed in the cause. So I’m issuing a warning right now – be very careful that your politicians do not take away the initiative process in the guise of improving it.

Secondly, the pharmaceutical companies are going to be all over this industry. The pharmaceutical companies see a huge cash cow here. And, even though we know that it’s not really a cash cow for everyone. For the individual entrepreneur it is very hard to get a good dispensary going, for instance.

What’s going to happen is the government and the pharmaceutical companies are going to try to make it so that the only cannabis products you can obtain legally are pills. They’ve already started it with the Marinol pill which is a monopoly for Unimed corporation. The next one will be Sativex from the GW Pharmaceuticals which I happen to like because it’s a 50/50 mixture of CBD and THC and they have several other products. Those are sublingual rather than a pill and those would be acceptable to the pharmaceutical industry.

My warning is this: What we want is free, legal, backyard marijuana. We want everyone in the world to have the God-given right to grow own dope. That is the first thing we can do to make sure that every regulation that is passed allows an individual person to grow their own. That’s what God gave us. That’s why this plant is so popular.

Secondly, we need to sponsor and promote our own cannabis dispensaries in such a way that they can stay alive against the federal government trying to wipe them out and substitute a pill form of prescription medicines.

Third, we need to start our own pharmaceutical companies which think, in a way, Harborside already is. In terms of producing this medicine in the forms that we like rather than the forms the government says is [expletive deleted] legal.

So we still have a huge battle. The federal government is not going to legalize easily because they can see it already happening here in Oakland, in San Francisco and throughout California. Many other states whether they call it medical or not – what’s going on is legalization with retail stores and very well-known distribution process depending on, as usual, California as the best industry in the world.

So, those are my warnings and we still have a lot of work to do in the area of keeping big pharmaceuticals out of our business. Thank you.

STEVE BLOOM: Thank you, Michael. Anyone else want to weigh in on where we’re heading in terms of legalizing and regulating in California?


DEAN BECKER: Next we’re going to hear from Steven De Angelo, the president of Harborside Health Center. I think the world’s largest cannabis distribution center.


STEVEN DE ANGELO: I think that the answer for California is really the same as the answer for the rest of America.

If you take a look at public opinion polls when you ask Americans whether they’re in favor of medical cannabis or not, 80% (maybe a point or two in either direction) say that they are in favor.

When you ask that same cohort whether they’re in favor of legalizing cannabis the numbers drop down below the 50 percentile. So that means that you’ve got like 30% of Americans who are simultaneously saying, “Yes, I think medical cannabis is a good idea. People should be able to have it but I don’t want it to be legalized.”

And you have to ask yourself, “What’s going on in their minds.” And in the course of this past 5 years working at Harborside I’ve had an opportunity to talk to a lot of other citizens, elected officials, journalists, citizens, homeowners’ associations and in talking to these folks I’ve become convinced that what is keeping that 30% of people from really embracing full access to cannabis is that every time they conjour the idea of legalization in their head – every model that they think of scares them.

There’s a lot of people who seriously think that legalizing cannabis means that the Mexican cartels are going to be allowed to set up shops on the corners of suburban subdivisions and sell weed and guns to kids on the way to school. They really actually believe that.

I don’t know about the Mexican cartels or the guns part, Michael, but they also…a whole other cohort of people have other, more realistic fears. They don’t want their kids to walk into a 7-eleven and have to walk past both the tobacco and the alcohol and then the weed. They don’t want to open up a copy of Rolling Stone or Vibe and see a two-page, glossy spread for reefers. They don’t want their kids to be led into some highly-marketed dependency.

So I think what we need to do, as a community, is take a look at those anxieties, take a look at those fears that Americans have about the distribution of cannabis and build a system like we’ve done at places like Berkeley Patients’ Group and Harborside Health Center that demonstrates that we can distribute cannabis in a way that brings benefits to the communities we’re located in rather than harms.

We need to show America that it is safer to do it with a legal, regulated system of cannabis sales. To do that I think we need to build a system which is focused on wellness rather than intoxication. A system that builds on the scientific evidence, the overwhelming scientific evidence that exists for the medical efficacy of cannabis and that we present cannabis as part of an overall paradigm shift in health care from an illness model based on pharmaceuticals to a wellness model that sees cannabis as one tool in a tool chest that also includes things like diet and exercise and meditation and other herbal therapies.

STEVE BLOOM: Right on, Steve De Angelo…awesome. I’m going to leave the last words to the ladies to the left here. Anything you’d like to say Michelle and Debby?

MICHELLE ALDRICH: What I’d like to do is give you all homework to do. I want you to go to your Board of Supervisors in your county and your city and go talk to them. Go educate them. Go one-on-one. That is the way you change. All politics are local. And we change it one city at a time and we just keep doing it. We’ve changed one law at a time and we keep doing that too.

The only other thing we might do is try to change the medical marijuana laws to make them more friendly toward everybody in the state. We have to counter what has just come down with Correa’s 847 and 1300. We have more work to do, guys. Go out and do it in your own neighborhood. Thank you.


DEAN BECKER: That was Michelle Aldrich that just finished and now we hear from Debbie Goldsberry.


DEBBIE GOLDSBERRY: In 1979 the voters in Berkeley made pot legal. They passed an initiative that said the city can’t spend any money enforcing the cannabis laws, you should grow your own pot at home so you money to invest in the city, if somebody steals your plants call the police and we’ll come find them for you. And it passed.

But, of course, the city never implemented that law. So when Cannabis Action Network moved out here to Berkeley in the 90s…well when Prop 215 passed, the 1979 law making pot legal in Berkeley was never implemented. Prop 215 – they got that covered – let’s implement the 79 law and make pot legal in Berkeley.

We opened a little Amsterdam-style Dutch café for adult personal users to come and get their cannabis in Berkeley. Very quickly we discovered a problem. People were so cool because we had a campaign called “Be Cool” from the Berkeley Cannabis Oversight League. When they came in our building they were so cool, they were being cool. But, as soon as they walked out with their cannabis is was like a spring that broke loose – it was like “waaaaah – pot’s legal!” They would almost do cartwheels down the street. That wasn’t cool anymore.

Very quickly we realized that if we really want to succeed we have to be good neighbors. We have rules for sensible cannabis use. We have to have guidelines for our building. We have to register to vote. You got to sign up on the line and agree that you’re going to vote. If you put those components together, suddenly people are really cool. Even when they walk out the door and they can maintain a cannabis lifestyle that’s appropriate to what our communities expect for us.

I think we, as a community, need to self-regulate cannabis for the future. We need to adopt our own guidelines for sensible cannabis use - our own method of interacting with the public who doesn’t support us.

For example “Sex, drugs and rock and roll” – I like them all but I don’t think it’s a good motto anymore. You know, “Tune in, Turn on, Help out” - that’s how we’re going to change this law. Let’s self-regulate cannabis like electricity is self-regulated, like deep sea diving is self-regulated, pharmaceuticals are self-regulated by a 501(c)(3) organization. Let’s self-regulate cannabis.

We got a lot of work to do. Stop at our booth right around the corner – United Cannabis Collective and Cannabis Action Network. We have an idea to self-regulate We have the sensible use of cannabis guidelines. Let’s do this together.

STEVE BLOOM: Thank you, Debbie. Thank you to all these great panelist here…Debbie Goldsberry, Michelle Aldrich, Michael Aldrich, Steve De Angelo. Thank you for coming out today for the panel discussions.


DEAN BECKER: Do want to apologize for all the wind noise but it was an outdoor street fest here in Oakland. We’ll be back with more here in just a moment.


(Game show music)

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

Itching, difficulty breathing, bone pain, chest pain, dark urine, irregular heartbeat, fever, chills, red blisters, peeling skin, seizures, severe diarrhea, stomach cramps, swelling of the hands and feet, unusual bruising and bleeding


Time’s up!

The answer: from Schering-Plough Health Care Products, Inc., a subsidiary of Merck and Company, Inc., - Zegerid for heartburn.


DEAN BECKER: Alright, I’m here at the cannabis street fair in Oakland. I’m with Mr. Ethan Nadelmann, the Director of the Drug Policy Alliance. Hello, Ethan.

ETHAN NADELMANN: Hey Dean, how are you?

DEAN BECKER: What’s your impression, sir?

ETHAN NADELMANN: Well, it’s a very nice and mellow event. I’m a bit impressed that I’m not able to get into the medical marijuana area because I’m not a medical marijuana patient. So there is some sense of abiding by the laws and the guidelines here.

But I say this is a nice thing. It’s good commerce for Oakland. How’s much better to have this thing above ground than below ground.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, it’s raising money for the city and state and it’s peaceful, as you say. There’s no problems here at all.

ETHAN NADELMANN: That’s exactly right. It would be good for these things to be popping up all around the country. The interesting thing too is when you imagine some of the fears that people have around marijuana – if they were to see something like this, they’d see how simply normal it is. And, quite frankly, as far as I can tell there’s an absence of alcohol around here. So everything is just very calm and people kicking back and having a good time on a beautiful day at a nice street fair.

DEAN BECKER: Ethan, I made it into the smoking area and I want to tell you that many of those same folks are out here walking amongst us and I still don’t see a problem.

ETHAN NADELMANN: No, exactly Dean, exactly. It’s a shame that the feds got to get all worked up about this sort of thing. It would be nice to see this thing get fully legal so that we can stop playing games around the edges and people could stop winding up in prison for nothing more than marijuana. So, that’s what we’re aiming for, right?

DEAN BECKER: Well, you know last week was the recognition of Overdose Prevention Day and for many people who are using prescription pills and whatever to help their maladies they could benefit through the use of cannabis, don’t you think?

ETHAN NADELMANN: I think that’s right. But, I find myself oftentimes saying, when I speak to the folks who focus on pain management, I call them out and say to the extent that they are not including cannabis among the options for people who are struggling with chronic pain – they are not performing their medical obligations.

But I’ll tell you the same thing that I also say to the people involved in medical cannabis – that they should stop damning the opiates because for many people cannabis is not going to be the answer. For many people opiates are the answer. And the real answer here is not to favor one over the other – it’s to favor whatever works – whatever is safe and works.

Now, obviously, cannabis has the advantage that it’s safe. You’re not going to die of an overdose. But, for many people the opiates are going to be the only medication that works and people in the cannabis area have to respect that reality as well.

DEAN BECKER: Alright, once again, been speaking with Ethan Nadelmann, Director of Drug Policy Alliance, http://drugpolicy.org


DEAN BECKER: I’m here at the cannabis festival with Marsha Rosenbaum also of the Drug Policy Alliance. Hello, Marsha.


DEAN BECKER: What’s your take? What are you going to take away from this?

MARSHA ROSENBAUM: I was able to get into the 215 area, the smoking area, the medical area. Which, as far as I can see, was much bigger than the other area. There were a lot of people in there. It was one of the most diverse crowds I’ve seen in terms of race and age. It looked like just a normal gathering of people. It was amazing. And I was blown away by how many people have cards. It’s really huge. It was fun. Anyway, that’s it.

DEAN BECKER: There were a lot of people lining up to actually get their cards, as well, right?

MARSHA ROSENBAUM: I am, right now, going to go over there and find out whether it’s possible to just get a card this minute. So, that’s what I’m going to do.

DEAN BECKER: OK, thank you, Marsha.


JZ: I’m JZ and I’m here with TrueCare Nursery.

DEAN BECKER: Tell us what you guys do.

JZ: We provide baby cannabis plants for Prop 215 qualified patients.

DEAN BECKER: OK and do you have a selection? Which plants do you provide?

JZ: We do. We’ve got a large variety – located on the website, http://www.truecarenursery.com/. Some of the current strains that you see here…Purple AK-47 is a nice one, Harlequin is really high in CBDs…

DEAN BECKER: Tell us about why you need CBDs or you don’t. What’s the deal with that?

JZ: Some patients they might require something a little more stupefying, I guess, to that extent and something high in CBDs – that gives them something more stupefying and stoney effect as compared to something with less CBDs….maybe like a pure Sativa-type of cannabis.

DEAN BECKER: For some people, as you say stupefying, that’s because they have a severe pain or a severe malady that they just want to walk away from, right?

JZ: Right. This is all it is. We’re providing care. It’s natural. It’s herbal. We’re not causing people to pop pills for the rest of their lives.

DEAN BECKER: One more time, that website.

JZ: http://www.truecarenursery.com/


DEAN BECKER: Alright, we’ll have more from the cannabis street fest there in Oaksterdam on this week’s Century of Lies show. We’re going to close it out with this segment from Mary Jane Borden because in the next week or two we’re going to focus on what happened at Rainbow Farm.


MARY JANE BORDEN: Hello drug policy aficionados, I’m Mary Jane Borden, editor of Drug War Facts. The question for this week asks, “What was the Rainbow Farm?”

Paraphrasing a January 2002 Washington Post article entitled “Was Rainbow Farm Another Waco?” The Rainbow Farm was a “34-acre farm and an adjoining 20-acre wood near Vandalia, Michigan. Tom Crosslin bought the farm as a place where he and Rollie Rohm could escape the urban life. He turned the Rainbow Farm into a campground and began holding pro-pot festivals every Labor Day and Memorial Day weekend.

On Friday, August 31s t, 2001, the building where the bands waited to go on stage was burning. A helicopter from WNDU-TV in South Bend, Indiana shooting the fire footage for the evening news was told to leave because cops said somebody was shooting at them.

On Sunday the FBI arrived – more than 50 strong – summoned to the scene because the helicopter shooting was a federal crime. John Bell, head of the FBI’s Detroit office said 3 FBI SWAT teams – each composed of 3 sharpshooters…in the woods at a campsite.

Two agents fired. One of them shooting Crosslin through the forehead, killing him instantly. Early the next day, two police snipers fired from 150 yards away. One missed. The other shot through the stock of Rohm’s rifle and into his chest, killing him.”

The Rainbow Farm might simply have been counted among the estimated 40,000 paramilitary SWAT raids that occurred in 2001. But, in the context of history, it was no ordinary raid.

It was a harbinger of what was to come. 8 days later on September 11, 2001, terrorists high-jacked 4 airliners, flying 2 of them into the World Trade Center, one into the Pentagon and one into a Pennsylvania corn field – killing a total of 2,977 people.

The 2004 911 commission report found that FBI priorities were “driven at the local level by field offices who’s concerns centered on traditional crimes such as white-collar offences and those pertaining to drugs and gangs.” In 2000 there were still twice as many agents devoted to drug enforcement as to those to counter-terrorism.”

The report concluded “In sum, the domestic agencies never mobilized in response to the threat. The terrorist exploited deep institutionalized failings.” Perhaps one failing was the Drug War.

These facts and others like them can be found in the Interdiction Chapter of Drug War Facts at at www.drugwarfacts.org. If you have question for which you need facts please email them to me at mjborden@drugwarfacts.org. I’ll try to answer your question in an upcoming show.

So remember, when you need facts about drugs and drug policy – you can get the facts at Drug War Facts.


DEAN BECKER: Well, that’s it and as always I remind you 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.

This show produced at the Pacifica studios of KPFT, Houston.
Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org
Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.