03/27/15 Alexis Bortell

Cultural Baggage Radio Show

Alexis and Dean Bortell report on 25 days seizure free, Texas Rep calls for Med cannabis, Marsh Schoenhard and Aaron Justiss from San Francisco & Pacifica rabble rouser Ray Hill Roast on April 4

Audio file


MARCH 27, 2015


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

Hello my friends, this is Dean Becker. Thank you for joining us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. We've got a great show lined up for you today, we're going to hear from young nine-year-old Alexis who moved from Texas to Colorado to get the cannabis medicines, which are benefiting her greatly. We're going to hear from my great friend Mr. Ray Hill, they're holding a roast for him in benefit of Pacifica Radio. We've got some reports coming out of the International Cannabis Business Conference, featuring Mr. Aaron Justis and Mr. Marsh Schoenhard.

First up, this segment from the Texas Legislature, when they forward a couple of medical marijuana bills.

MARISA MARQUEZ: I'm Marisa Marquez, and I represent House District 77 in El Paso, Texas. Today, Senator Menendez and I filed SB1839 in the Senate and HB3785 in the House. This piece of legislation is a comprehensive medical marijuana bill. Texans deserve a choice when it comes to their healthcare. HB3785 provides the framework for patients to access medical marijuana, and for the state to regulate approved dispensaries.

Limitations are included in HB3785 to safeguard the community and minimize misuse of medical marijuana. These safeguards include but are not limited to penalties for possession on school bus, at school, in correctional facilities and other areas as outlined in the bill. Every year, many Texans are diagnosed with serious and debilitating conditions, such as cancer, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson's Disease, Lou Gehrig's Disease, and seizure disorders.

Thousands of Texas veterans are living with PTSD as a result of their service to our country. The support we see here today, you see here today, is a clear indication that the legislature needs to take the suffering of these Texans seriously. The people here today also believe that Texans deserve access to medical marijuana as a treatment option.

It's time for us to allow Texans and their doctors to make the best decision regarding their medical treatment. As a state that leads the nation in innovative medical research, Texas needs to take a scientific and reasoned approach to the known benefits of medical marijuana. It's time for the Texas legislature to have these important conversations and adopt access to medical marijuana into law.

Today we have Kaitlyn Dunkley with Texans for Medical Reform, Barbara Humphries as an advocate suffering from stage three breast cancer, and retired US Army Major David Bass. Other supporters who are available for individual interviews and questions are the very eloquent Vincent Lopez, who is here in Austin, a patient activist and native Texan living with multiple, muscular dystrophy, and Tracy Ansling, a retired nurse who has worked with Texas patients for years. She's the director of operations for Team Alexis, a grassroots organization supporting children like nine-year-old Alexis Bortell, whose family recently left the state to access medical marijuana for her intractable epilepsy. Since beginning treatment this month, Alexis has been without seizures for 13 days, the longest time since her diagnosis.

Thank you so much for your support, thank you for being here today.

DEAN BECKER: It seems every day we hear more and more stories of people who benefit from the medical use of cannabis, more specifically as has been outlined by various doctors around the country, it is of great benefit for many of those who suffer from epilepsy, and today I'm privileged to have with us Mr. Dean Bortell. He moved from Texas to Colorado to access this medical marijuana for his daughter Alexis.

Dean, the fact of the matter is you guys, I guess, moved about 1,000 miles to get the medicine your daughter needs, correct?

DEAN BORTELL: Yes, we did.

DEAN BECKER: So, not soon after arriving in Colorado, you were able to access some medical marijuana for your daughter.

DEAN BORTELL: Yes, specifically Haley's Hope. It's a strain that they grow here. You hear about the Charlotte's Webs and various other, you know, strains, Haley's Hope is the strain that we're using.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir, and I hear, you know, people talk about CBD versus THC. Can you tell us the content of this Haley's Hope.

DEAN BORTELL: It's important to understand that you need CBD and THC. Haley's Hope, this batch – you know because there's always variances, because we're talking about a plant – but this batch that we have now is 26 parts CBD to one part THC. We also have a bottle of THC oil. Her doctors, Alexis, have recommended a day-time ratio of 20:1, and a nighttime ratio of 15:1. So without that bottle of THC to get the ratio right, we wouldn't be able to comply with her doctor's orders.

And so, the people out there pushing those CBD only bills? Most of them don't allow for any THC supplementation, so you have a dosage if you will, if you want to replace the word ratio with dosage, you have a dosage which varies, and that's not a good position to be in for medicine. You need the THC, you have to have it.

DEAN BECKER: Dean, if you will, let's talk about the cost of this cannabis oil.

DEAN BORTELL: Sure. And let's be clear which one we're talking about. It's Haley's Hope, by the Flowering Hope Foundation. You can google them, they're in Colorado, the Flowering Hope Foundation and Haley's Hope, it's easy to find. We are paying about $150 a month for the Haley's Hope oil, and compare that to when we were on pharmaceuticals, with insurance, our deductibles and copays and all that added up, depending on what phase of medication she was on in her treatment, you know, we found costs as high as $250 a month just for our part of it.

So it's really important when people consider their treatment options and they listen to these politicians who say, well insurance wouldn't cover it anyway. We're living proof, we're saving anywhere from $50 to $100 a month without insurance involved. So fiscally, it's something that the Republicans ought to be on board with, it's saving families money.

DEAN BECKER: Yes. Again, we're speaking with Mr. Dean Bortell, who's up in Colorado with his daughter Alexis. Now, your daughter is very smart, I saw something the other day, she has a tenth grade reading level?

DEAN BORTELL: Yes, that's correct. In a placement test when we got to Colorado, she placed in at reading and spelling at tenth grade, and she's not anywhere near that. She is, and when I, I should specify, whey I say that she's not near that, she's a third grader, so.

DEAN BECKER: Well, no, that's a proud dad getting it right, I appreciate that. I understand that Alexis is home with you, can I talk with her a minute?

DEAN BORTELL: Yes, she's here, if you want to talk to her.

DEAN BECKER: Can you hear me?


DEAN BECKER: Hello, Alexis. I just want to say I see you on the Facebook, I see you on the Texas TV stations, I see you standing very tall for the ability to get your medicine. I understand it's working out quite well.

ALEXIS BORTELL: Yes, very well.

DEAN BECKER: Tell us how it's, how many days you've gone now without a seizure. Hello?

ALEXIS BORTELL: Twenty-five.

DEAN BECKER: Twenty-five. Wow, now that's wonderful. Now, that makes a great difference in how you plan your day, doesn't it?


DEAN BECKER: Well, tell us what it's like in Colorado, what's a day like up there?

ALEXIS BORTELL: We got to get out today. I feel fine.

DEAN BECKER: Well, let me ask you this: If you could talk to the legislators, the people who pass the laws in Texas, what would you say to them?

ALEXIS BORTELL: I'd tell them, medical cannabis made me about 25 days seizure free, and that made a huge difference.

DEAN BECKER: Indeed it has, indeed it has. Well, Alexis, I want to thank you for your time, I just want to tell you, I'm so proud of you, the way you're handling yourself, just keep up the good work, you are making a difference.


DEAN BECKER: All right. Let me talk to your dad again. And, I asked her, my last question to her I want to ask you, Dean: What would you say to the legislators in Texas about medical marijuana?

DEAN BORTELL: That they need to take the first word and pay strong attention to it, it is medicine. You know, this is, Alexis's previous record on pharmaceuticals, previous record on pharmaceuticals, was two days, with no symptoms and or no seizures. We are at day 25 on medical cannabis. They need to take the time, if they haven't been here to study the medical program, to come here and study it. If you're gong to be dictating people's lives, then the least you can do is come up here.

DEAN BECKER: Well said, Dean. Is there a website you might want to recommend, any closing thoughts?

DEAN BORTELL: Go to TeamAlexis.org, and that will take you to her actual facebook page, where she puts out daily updates and various things like that. She's on twitter @TeamAlexis. And, closing thoughts, for those people on the fence, and advice, would be, you know, it's worked for us when all other medicine failed Alexis, medical cannabis worked for us. And so if people are thinking about doing it, I couldn't recommend any higher the company we're working with, and the oil, Haley's Hope, that we're using. It has changed Alexis's life in ways that we couldn't even imagine.

DEAN BECKER: Following my interview with Alexis and Dean Bortell, I learned a couple of things. One is that much of the CBD oil that's being marketed, especially in the non-legal states, is made from hemp and much of it is worthless and is giving CBD oil a bad name, if you will. Secondarily, they also said that if things work out, Dean and Alexis may fly down to talk to the Texas Legislature in the morning, after she's had her morning dose, and fly back to Colorado that evening, when she will need her second dose of medical cannabis.

It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects. Loss of personal freedom, family and possessions. Ineligible for government funding, education, licensing, housing or employment. Loss of aggressive mindset in a dangerous world. This drug’s peaceful, easy feeling may be habit forming. Time's up! The answer: Doobie, jimmy, joint, reefer, spliff, jibber, jay, biffa, jazz, blunt, steege, greener, cracker, hogger, bone, carrot, maryjane, marijuana, cannabis sativa. Made by God. Prohibited by man.

The following interview was conducted at the International Cannabis Business Conference in San Francisco. I'm speaking with Mr. Aaron Justis, he's president of Buds & Roses cannabis dispensary in Studio City, California. We're talking about the difficulties of the defining and redefining of the rules around medical cannabis.

AARON JUSTIS: Oh yeah, in Los Angeles, we're, you know, like, the limited immunity that we have, it's not very clear how we are actually supposed to operate, and there are a lot of surprises all the time. And, I think that we're going to have to deal with that for quite a while in Los Angeles, even if we pass 2016 adult use, doesn't necessarily mean the problem in LA will be cleaned up right way, and it doesn't mean that LA is going to be quick to jump onto regulating.

They've kind of been able to regulate for all these years and, you know, it's been slow, so, I just want to focus on locally, in Los Angeles, whatever we can do to kind of legitimize the system there, and work on medical laws throughout the next year so that when adult use comes, it doesn't affect patients' rights, and it's just kind of like, the system that hopefully we'll get some stuff done in order, and we have a good 2017 on the right path.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Aaron, in just the few years that you guys have been in existence, I'm sure you've probably seen an enormous rise in the number of products and applications of the cannabis products, right?

AARON JUSTIS: Oh yeah, that's exciting, that's great. We're seeing a lot of new products come on line. Again, we have no regulations with how those products can be packaged and how they look, and, but we've kind of self-regulated in that field, and we've been able to be really strict about what we will accept, and now there's actually a lot of products that meet those qualifications that we've put in place and it's exciting, everything from, we just ordered little coffee cups that go in your Keurig, that are medicated, so it's great.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, I hear, there's the patches and the ointments, and the salves. It just goes on and on now, doesn't it?

AARON JUSTIS: Yeah, it does, it does. You know, one thing I like, it doesn't get pointed out a lot and I think it should more often, is what happened in Los Angeles, you have a city that basically was the most out of control situation in the country, more dispensaries in Los Angeles than in the entire country at one point, over 1,000. And when it really came down to it, and the city had dealt with that for years, no enforcement in shutting these places down, no regulations, and at the end of the day, Los Angeles voters, by 62 percent of the vote, and this was regulations written by the city, basically had very little regulation.

And the city was okeh with that, they said look, we don't need all this crazy regulation, just we don't want the mass proliferation, and, you know, just keep it simple. But, they had realized that even in the worst, most unregulated marketplace, the sky didn't fall. So I think that, same with in California and as we move forward, yes, we do need to regulate properly, but we don't need over-the-top regulations to keep us safe.

DEAN BECKER: Well, it will be the over-regulation, the number of requirements to bring the product to market, that lead to increased prices which will in effect support the black market, am I right?

AARON JUSTIS: Yes totally, and we know from other industries that it may actually be industry players who push these strict regulations. So, you know, there's a fine line. I'm all for regulation, but if you make it just too steep, and application fees too high, and you zone everybody out and push everybody out, you know that can be, people use that in business to get ahead and we just have to watch for that and have a good balance.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, before the new Liggett & Myers steps forward, right?

AARON JUSTIS: Exactly, makes it impossible for anybody but them to get a license.

DEAN BECKER: One more question, Aaron, you guys probably get a few celebrities dropping by from time to time. You don't have to drop any names, but am I right?

AARON JUSTIS: Yeah, we do, and some of them I can mention. Tom Greene, he just did some stuff with us, we did a movie promotion with Kevin Smith, and I do try to reach out to these celebrities and get them involved with the movement, and we'll see. Hopefully this year, we'll see some come along. I think the biggest hope, and I'll put this out there to encourage, any comedians you know, because it seems like they make the best points on stage, they're really good at being clear, especially about stupid things and stupid laws, and they're not worried about their career, of someone not hiring a comedian because they use cannabis, so, so maybe that will be our first step, but yeah.

DEAN BECKER: Very true, thank you, Aaron. Okeh, well, as we wrap it up here, do you want to share a website? And closing thoughts for the listeners.

AARON JUSTIS: Yeah. I'd just say check us out at budsandrosela.com, or visit us on Ventura Boulevard in Studio City. And my final comments would be a Caliifornia thing, which would be that, we really need to pass state-wide medical cannabis regulation this year, so that when adult use comes in 2016, one, the citizens of California see that a regulatory system can work and it's working well, and two, so that patients are protected and their rights aren't taken away like what we're kind of seeing in Washington right now. So support state-wide regulations in medical and then we'll go ahead in 2016.

DEAN BECKER: The following also recorded in San Francisco, I'm speaking with Mr. Marsh Schoenhard.

MARSH SHOENHARD: Okeh, well I'll start off with the main company, that's Critical Separations. Critical Separations is a service company that helps develop CO2 products, along with the marketing, the branding, everything like that. We support you all the way through trade shows, cup events, everything like that. We're a group of dedicated individuals developing the methodology to quantify the values of making socially responsible decisions for your employees and your community, that there is a mathematical equation that will show and quantify, mathematically, the value of making socially responsible decisions.

That's what Critical Separations really is, that's the core of what they are, and to quantify that value, and to make this mathematical equation appear, we are mandating that everybody that we allow to use our intellectual property, our skills, our resources, may they be our mental ability or our workforce, that they have to have at least a five percent commitment to their community, or their employees, or a combination thereof.

DEAN BECKER: Look, America's corporations have walked away from supporting those who work for them, supporting their community, they've gone international and bankerized themselves, haven't they?

MARSH SHOENHARD: You know, that's one of the biggest problems here, you know. America has a lot of amazing assets and amazing advantages against the world market, our freedom of thought and the ability to create new inventions and have amazing new ideas. Not to discredit anyone else in the world, but we have a very unique melting pot here, of innovation, and it's been stifled by manufacturing leaving, and education and our school system, about creating new products, you know. We'll create millions of dollars on a football field and yet we have no shop, we have no C&C equipment, we have no, very little 3D printing in the school systems right now, so all these things, all have a major impact on our culture.

DEAN BECKER: Want to share some websites, some closing thoughts with the listeners?

MARSH SHOENHARD: To Sacred Serum, is one of the main brands. Truly Pure, Sensi Self Care, Honey Buzz, Vivid Chocolate, CannaKing Confections. If you're looking to get into this industry, please don't come into this industry for money. We want anybody who has skills that they're passionate and they've given their whole lives to. Just come into the industry with what your passion is, and that's one of the most important things I think I could close with.

DEAN BECKER: Here in Houston we've got this particular individual. He's a former youthful minister, he's a confirmed homosexual, he's a hellraising radical, a longtime Pacifican here in Houston. He's founder of the decades-old Prison Show, and this individual is my mentor, my friend, Ray Hill. How you doing, sir?

RAY HILL: Well, it's very kind of you to say those wonderful things, and you know, if it weren't for the poverty and the old man crap, I'd live an absolutely charmed life.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Ray, in light, or in lieu, or in recognition of all these years of advocacy and as I said, hell raising, they're going to have a fundraiser for you here in Houston.

RAY HILL: Well, it's actually for Pacifica. They're just playing off of my reputation for ill or good, that I have built up over the years, because my beloved Pacifica is going through some tough financial straits, and I was there before the bomb, before they, before we went on the air, I was involved in Pacifica. Of course, when you actually go on the air with some idea like Pacifica, people kind of come out of the woodwork to make it happen, but there was the struggle to get on the air, and I was part of that.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Ray, you mentioned the bomb, we're, I don't think the word is privileged, but we are the only station in America to be bombed off of the airwaves, not just once but twice.

RAY HILL: By the same person, actually. The Ku Klux Klan, under the direction of Louis Beam, the bomber, decided that we had no right to exist and so twice he bombed the station into silence, and what he did was he made KPFT for a short period of time the most famous local FM radio station in the world.

DEAN BECKER: Well, in many ways, I think we still are. Now, Ray, you were the one astute or loco enough to recognize my talent, if you will, and put me on the airwaves in my efforts to end this eternal war on drugs, correct?

RAY HILL: Yes, I was, and congratulations on that Dean, you've taken that and done well with it.

DEAN BECKER: Well, but, it has been, you know, for me a labor of love, and part of it is I want to thank you again on the airwaves. You know, when I came to you, I think my quiver of arrows for doing this work was pretty full, but you gave me the courage to continue on, because I remember after that first night, I was worried who was going to kick in the door, the cartels or the cops.

RAY HILL: Yeah, well you know, whenever you get caught in the crossfire, and you were in the crossfire between the prohibitionist cops and the people that used the fact of prohibition to make big bucks off of the industry, you were caught in their crossfire, but you know, it's hard to hit a guy on the radio. Television's a little easier, and out there giving speeches real easy, but you can hide in a studio, and if you get far enough away from the station they don't know what you look like, you're on safe ground.

But let me expand on that a little bit, because I walked in the station and you were pitching the idea to an administration that just didn't hear it. They weren't going to give you any time, and it didn't take me ten or fifteen seconds of eavesdropping to figure out that what you had to say was number one important, and number two was not heard anywhere else, and that by definition is the purpose of Pacifica Radio and KPFT. And I had a vehicle, I had two hours every week to talk to convicts, and I said wait a minute. What you've got to say about drug laws and drug prohibition is important to my audience, and I think I gave you a few minutes every month.

DEAN BECKER: Well, it started out at random, I admit, but eventually you gave me about three to five minutes every show until they gave me a program.

RAY HILL: Yeah, well, you built an audience and created a demand that was already there, they didn't see it, you saw it, I saw it. And then it became the reality, and that's how this – you know, this morning I got up, I'm still worried about the roast, and I hope folks have got some, some tough things to say about me, it's not a roast if everybody is being nice, I don't like that concept at all. But then I get to talk.

And I said, well, you know, what inspired me in the evolution of my getting involved in Pacifica and it was a speech by Edward R. Murrow. We remember it as the lights and wires in a box speech, but it's not that particular paragraph that inspired me, it was the next paragraph, after he finished the speech up and of course if he'd have stopped at, if we don't use this for the opportunity to teach and illuminate and even inspire, then what we've got here is lights and wires in a box.

But the next paragraph and the closing paragraph of his speech, he said Stonewall Jackson, who is generally believed to have known something about weapons, is reported to have said, when the war comes, you must draw your sword, throw away the scabbard. The trouble with television is that the sword is rusting in the scabbard. It's about selling, not about the ideas that the selling provides time for. I just saw in Pacifica, and now I'm involved in Houston Media Source, and you're involved to a degree in both, that here was an opportunity to throw the scabbard away, so all you've got is the sword, and all that's important is the ideas.

DEAN BECKER: Well, there you have it my friends, my mentor, my friend Ray Hill. The Ray Hill Comedy Roast and Gala, the fundraiser for KPFT, is going to be on Saturday, April 4th, from 6 to 9 pm. I urge you to go to KPFT, there you can sign up, you can learn more, and come to the roast for Mr. Ray Hill.

RAY HILL: The roast is going to be in the University of Houston, in the school of hostelry there, the Hilton Hotel right there on campus. Facility's nice, food is good, just pay too much forward and you'll have a good time.

DEAN BECKER: This is Dean Becker, we're flat out of time, thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. And as always I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag, please be careful.