05/13/16 Chris Conrad

Chris Conrad, author and cannabis expert outlines California's AUMA marijuana legalization act, Dr. Malak Burnett re DC's legalization & Elvy Musika who receives 300 cannabis cigarettes per month from the US Government

Program: 
Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Date: 
Friday, May 13, 2016
Guest: 
Chris Conrad
Organization: 
Cannabis advocate
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CULTURAL BAGGAGE

MAY 13, 2016

TRANSCRIPT

DEAN BECKER: Broadcasting on the Drug Truth Network, this is Cultural Baggage.

DR. G. ALAN ROBISON: It is not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally un-American.

CROWD: 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.

Well, every week we try to bring you the skinny, the truth, the reality about this drug war, most specifically about marijuana because that seems to be where the focus is these days. And here to give us some insight into what's going on in California, and their effort to legalize marijuana, is a cannabis expert, court-certified, author, my friend, Mister Chris Conrad. How you doing, Chris?

CHRIS CONRAD: I'm doing great, Dean, and it's great to talk to you and your listeners.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, Chris. You know, the truth is coming forward, is it not?

CHRIS CONRAD: Well, it is, but it's a tortured path forward, in fact, one of the things that we're finding nowadays is that the, you know, we've always been used to the idea that the prohibitionists lie to keep marijuana illegal, and we're just kind of getting used to the fact that there's a group of people who have a vested interest in keeping marijuana, who claim not to be prohibitionists because they are involved in the trade and so forth. But yet, they actually are willing to lie to keep it illegal as well. So here in California, we have a big fight on our hands, that we have a really good initiative, but yet people are getting a lot of doubts because of bad information being passed around by people who supposedly support legalization.

And what's weird about it is, you know, they're basically, there were three most serious efforts of trying to get something on the ballot this year, and at this point, it looks like there's only going to be one that does make it, of course. But for some reason, two of the initiatives decided to spend their time attacking the third initiative to try to keep it from getting on the ballot, rather than trying to get their own things on the ballot, and that has kind of devolved into this food fight on the internet.

DEAN BECKER: I, of late, have been thinking of writing an article, titled something like potheads for prohibition, something to that effect, because, I mean, besides the growers, which have a vested interest in maintaining the price and the supply, there are other players that want to deny this advance, correct?

CHRIS CONRAD: Well, that seems to be the case. And of course I would start off by saying that the vast majority of the growers actually do want legalization. The vast majority of medical marijuana collectives want legalization. The vast majority of patients want legalization. What there is, is this tra -- small entrenched special interest group that is using trolls and misinformation to try to thwart that process, and so, you know, we're really only talking about a very small group, but what we've found is that some of, you know, the, we're looking at internet, for example, the trolls, the trolls of prohibition who are out there. And it really turns out, like, there's maybe a half a dozen or so, but each of them might spend, they seem to be on the computer 24 hours a day, almost, putting out bad information.

So, even though there's a small group of them, they really have a tremendous amount of energy that they're willing to put into distorting the issue for people, and it's very sad, because, you know, when you talk to the average cannabis consumer out there, they're in favor, very favorable to legalization. But yet, then, when they hear some of the nonsense that's been put out by the opponents of legalization, that they're, their skepticism naturally kicks in because, you know, people are skeptical about everything they hear about marijuana nowadays.

DEAN BECKER: Right. And this California Adult Use of Marijuana Act. Tell us what it will do, what will it provide for the user, the consumer?

CHRIS CONRAD: Well, it's not a repeal of the prohibition laws, meaning that there's still criminal penalties for certain activities, but what it does basically is it legalizes the possession of an ounce of marijuana, 8 grams of concentrate, and you can transport it, you can share it, you can grow six plants at home, and you can give that away, but you can't sell it. If you sell it, you need to get a license. They have to have a dual license, meaning that you can get state licensed but the local government also has to provide a license.

And these licenses are pretty amazing, though, there's like 17 different kinds of license. You could get a small grower, for example, so if someone is a home grower and they want to shift over, they can get the small grower license. People who want to have a business that provides to the retailers that doesn't want to buy on the wholesale market, they can have what's called a microbusiness, and they can do their own production, and retail and wholesale, and manufacturing, all with the same license, but it has to be small-scale.

And then there's larger cultivation, and licenses for things like solvent extraction, which is very dangerous and so they want to keep a cap on that, of course. And then, the, it's all, in order to modulate the price, what the authors tried to accomplish here is to set up a system that makes it legal so they don't have all these people getting arrested, and also by the way it prevents police from searching people who have small amounts of marijuana, which is the first law that I've heard that actually does that, it actually tells police don't search people. And it creates this tax base that is being used to do different things, like, number one, of course, is the enforcement of the program. But second to that is it puts money into scientific research, puts money into restoring the environment, and it puts money into helping out communities that have been harmed by the drug war, particularly, my impression is, we're talking about inner city communities, because this is a national -- the NAACP that actually sponsored that particular part.

And then it adds extra protections for patients, but it's very careful that it does not change any of the medical marijuana laws, except that it adds new protections, for example, that your kids can't be taken from you if you're a medical marijuana patient -- just because you're a medical marijuana patient, should I say. And that your privacy is still protected, things like that. So it creates additional protections for patients. But a lot of people, what it does not do is it doesn't repair the damage that the legislature did to the medical marijuana laws last year, because, number one, that's already done, you know, they don't go back and rewrite things that the legislature did. But what they did instead is they made it easier, ultimately under this system it's going to be easier to get into the non-medical marijuana programs, and to sell and the businesses and licensing, than to be in the medical, and to me that makes sense, because, you know, I mean, like, I don't necessarily need the same standards as the guy who's growing tomatoes for me as I need for the guy who's making, you know, some kind of an antibiotic. You know? So, you know, the idea that the medical is regulated more than the non-medical is really, I think it's reasonable.

And, so, that in a nutshell is what it does. But the, oh, and I need to say one other thing, which is the legislature has the authority to repeal prohibitions, and if they want to raise taxes or anything like that, they have to have a two-thirds majority to do that. And there's stuff that they cannot do at all, they cannot make marijuana illegal again, for example. They cannot make it illegal to do home grows. And that ties into this last thing, which, under the current medical marijuana laws, a local government can ban people from growing their own medicine. Under the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, local governments can't ban any adult from producing marijuana for their own personal use. And so this is like a really huge step forward.. And actually, that tells us in a sense where some of the opposition is coming from.

You know my old friend, right, Jack Herer.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah.

CHRIS CONRAD: Well, when we passed the medical marijuana law here in California, he was very opposed to it, because he said that what it would do is it would create an entrenched group who has a vested interest in keeping marijuana as medicine, and that that would cause complacency on the part of the voters and it cause a special interest opposed to further legalization. At the time that he told me this, I didn't agree, and I certainly was not going to oppose legalization of medical marijuana because of Jack's theory, and I didn't. I worked hard on it, and I worked hard on SB420, and all the different reforms since then.

However, what we do see is that actually the, a lot of this opposition of misinformation's being funded by three different areas where there's medical marijuana dispensaries who have monopolies on the market right now. San Diego, San Diego area, the area, Sacramento, and in San Francisco. It seems like most of the funding for this negative campaign against the initiative is actually coming from these dispensaries, and it's hard for me not to believe, especially when I talk to them and they say, well, this is about protecting the patients, this is protection of the patients, patients, patients. They're really saying they want to keep it medical because under current law they don't have very much competition, and if this initiative passes, they're going to have to produce a good product and compete with other people, and I think that's really where they're -- where we're running into the problem with them.

And I think, you know, this is just my opinion, of course, but that a lot of the motive behind these no on legalization among the medical marijuana community is based on people who are profiting from the current system, and they really don't want to see it change. But it's changed anyway, that's the other thing they overlook, is that the legislature voted to change it last year, just the change won't take effect until the year after the initiative passes.

DEAN BECKER: Well. Well --

CHRIS CONRAD: So, you know, people aren't going to know how bad it is until it's too late.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Chris, let me interrupt you for a second to ask this, that, you know, what you're talking about here are, you know, first was Mr. Jack Herer's qualms about the medical, and then now we have this new adult use bill, but, isn't this just another step, I mean, a Texas representative, Simpson, said something to the effect that he wanted to legalize marijuana like jalapenos, and tomatoes. And that's my hope, that eventually that's what we'll do, we'll lose much of the fear, we'll still need minor controls, but is this hopefully just a step towards true, open, legalization. What's your thought, sir?

CHRIS CONRAD: Well, I definitely think that it is. Well, first off, you know, the thing about jalapenos and tomatoes is that primarily people can grow them at home if they want, and they can give them to their neighbors. And so this initiative will let people grow marijuana at home and give them to their neighbors. So, I think that in itself is going to bring down the price of marijuana, in addition to the fact that once these companies are licensed and they don't have to worry about being arrested by the police, that's going to be -- help bring down the prices as well. So ultimately, even though there's a new tax added, I think the price, if you look at what's going in Colorado and Washington, it's quite clear the prices are going to drop significantly. And I think that's another factor of why some of the marijuana producers don't like the idea of legalization, it's because they're seeing the prices dropping where marijuana is legal, and they're afraid of how that will affect them.

But moreover, when it comes to this, this is why it's so important that the law allowed for the legislature to make further reductions in penalties and legalize things further, because, I very much agree with what you're saying there, that once people are used to the idea of marijuana being legal, it's going to be easier to make further reforms than it is when it's illegal. And so, you know, the sooner we get it legal at the level to where it's over-controlled, and I do think the Adult Use of Marijuana Act does over-control it, but part of that, Dean, is that it's just the fact that we're at the stage in the world where people are controlling everything, you know what I mean?

There have been all these security systems that have been invented over the past thirty years so now they want to attach everything to making marijuana more secure, there's all this pricing and control information that computers, that can track inventory, so now they want to apply that to marijuana. There's all this packaging that's been developed so they want to apply that to marijuana. And I find that to be a negative, because other kinds of businesses hitching their wagons to this. But nonetheless, that doesn't stop people from being able to grow it and give it away to their neighbor in a plastic bag, and you know, so to a big extent, it's still going to -- the part that I think is the most important, that people can have their own supply and share it, that's protected under AUMA. And I think that in the long term, as people get more used to it, they're going to be able to, we're going to see a reduction in the kind of controls and an openness that you're talking about.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah.

CHRIS CONRAD: I mean, just for one thing, for example, in the Adult Use of Marijuana Act, they're making it so that instead of having -- a farmer having to have, dedicate five acres to growing industrial hemp, it's down to a tenth of an acre. So that means that people are going to be able to, very small farmers are going to be able to do small research patches of marijuana and people can have hemp, excuse me, industrial hemp, and so people are going to be even getting used to the idea of seeing hemp here and there, as well as, you know, marijuana in people's backyards and stuff like that, and so that's going to soften things.

And if I can point to one other part of the initiative, it protects the medical marijuana patients from having their children taken from them. And now, strangely enough, there's a bunch of people who try to portray that as a negative, they say, well, why should it only be the medical marijuana patients? Of course, these are also the same people who say that it's all for medicine, it's only for patients, and now that, but then when this particular part relates only to patients, and they say it should relate to everybody. But my thinking on that is, number one, I'd like to see it relate to everybody, but number two, as long as it's -- right now, they can take away from medical marijuana patients and marijuana's not legal for adults, once the initiative passes and it's legal for all adults, and the law specifies that parental rights are protected for medical marijuana patients, it's going to be easier to raise the argument that it's an equal protection of the law, that people who are not patients have the right to be protected from child protective services and so forth. And so, you know, it's like, you need to have the first, the foundation in place, before you can build the house. And these guys are like, they don't want a foundation.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Chris, the one provision that caught my attention as a LEAP speaker, that if the black market continues to thrive, because of the high tax rate, that they can lower that tax rate to in essence compete with the black market. I think that's a great provision.

CHRIS CONRAD: Yeah, in fact, they're required to do it. They have to monitor the illicit and the licit market, and the communities that continue to have bans, they don't get access to any of the tax benefits, the tax revenues that are created by the act, so they're really encouraged to, like, not only are they encouraged by financially, but like I said, they're going to have to be showing records that show that they're failing at controlling the illicit market. And so, it's, to me, the worst that would mean would be over time, like, you know, maybe there's one hardline generation left there, but by the time you get to the next generation of legislators, they're going to be saying look, we can't be wasting money on this stuff, and it's time to move on, and we should be making money, we should be getting some of that tax money. And so, you know, the old guard, you know, they're rapidly fading.

DEAN BECKER: Thank goodness. All right, friends, once again, we've been speaking with Mr. Chris Conrad, author, cannabis expert. Chris, closing thoughts, a website you'd like to share?

CHRIS CONRAD: Yeah, I'd invite everybody to come to AUMA2016.com, that's AUMA2016.com, and take a look at how the initiative affects things. You can get linked to read the initiative at my website, ChrisConrad.com. You can get a chart that shows you how the penalties are being revised, fact sheets, and also people who want to endorse the initiative can come to the contact page, and let us know, and we'll add you to our friends of AUMA section there, to show your support for legalization. And I think that's really important right now, is that people understand that the group that is spreading all this disinformation is a very small group, that the vast majority of people really do want reform, and that it's time to make that change.

DEAN BECKER: [MUSIC] The DEA's the joker,
The FDA's the joke,
The joke is on the USA,
So why not take a toke?

It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Runny nose, a sudden decrease in blood pressure, dizziness, fainting, severe injury, diminished semen production, ejaculatory problems, prolonged harmful erections leading to the inability to have an erection. Time's up! The answer, from Boehringer Ingelheim laboratories: Flomax. It's all urine.

MALIK BURNETT: My name is Malik Burnett, I'm a physician in preventive medicine at Johns Hopkins School of Public Health.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. We are in Baltimore attending the Patients Out of Time conference, and, you know, it's amazing, the, yearly, the progress that comes forward. But it seems to be expanding at a much faster pace these days. What's your thought, sir?

MALIK BURNETT: Right, right. I think, you know, that's exactly right. You know, what we've been able to put together in the Mid-Atlantic region between legalizing possession of marijuana in DC, I ran the campaign as part -- as the policy manager for the Drug Policy Alliance in combination with DCMJ and Adam Eidinger. We were able to legalize possession there, and then, now we've gotten some reforms around medical marijuana legislation here in Maryland, and, you know, people are starting to realize that, you know, cannabis prohibition is not working, and, you know, we're both realizing the medical and therapeutic benefits of cannabis as well as, you know, eliminating a lot of the criminal justice penalties associated with marijuana possession and use. And I think that's a great thing. And had it not been for, you know, groups like Patients Out of Time kind of starting this conversation, many many years ago, you know, we wouldn't be where we are today.

DEAN BECKER: Right. And I think that's it, it's the stair stepping, it's the expansion of the knowledge and awareness that's helping to swing this cat, so to speak. I saw a recent report on Vice TV, that reported on the situation in Washington, DC, and Amsterdam, and I was really marveling at the logic of the law, the implementation, the effect of the law, that you can give away an ounce on the streets of Washington, DC. It's an amazing development, is it not?

MALIK BURNETT: Right, right. And, this has been kind of characterized as the grow and gift model, in many, many spaces. I want to be clear that, you know, it was not our intent as residents of the District to do this process, although, you know, it has some benefits. It was our intent as a ballot initiative to be the first step towards at least eliminating criminal penalties around marijuana, but the Council of the District of Columbia, the governing body of the local affairs, was in the process of passing legislation to create a system for legal sales, much like you would see in Colorado or Washington, but it was the United States Congress that shut down that process.

The United States Congress treats the District as a colony, and doesn't -- and consistently in many facets infringes on the District's ability to make laws and regulations, and the Congress, once we passed the voter approved initiative, one, tried to disenfranchise the voters of the District by taking to take that voter initiative away, but we were able to get that done, but then, they took away the District's money to be able to regulate marijuana sales, and so that is why we have the current system as it is in the District of Columbia. But, you know, we're, that fight's ongoing, and you know, we are very close towards having a way to circumnavigate the Congress and legalize sales, and that is probably going to happen this year, in 2016.

DEAN BECKER: Wonderful news. Now, I remember the Congress has been trying to interfere with marijuana laws in DC for quite some time. I don't remember the details, but there was Bob Barr, trying to stop something years past. Right?

MALIK BURNETT: Yes, that's correct. In 1998, the District of Columbia was -- I believe the second jurisdiction to actually, you know, create a space for legalized medical marijuana, following in the footsteps of California, and at that point in time, Bob Barr, a Congressman from the state of Georgia, where I grew up, passed the Barr Amendment, and that Barr Amendment essentially put medical marijuana on freeze in the District of Columbia for 10 years. And it wasn't until 2010, when the Democrats had control of both the House and the Senate, that that amendment was able to be stripped from the appropriations process that effects the District's revenue, and medical marijuana was able to be, medical marijuana dispensaries were able to be set up in the District in 2011, 2012.

DEAN BECKER: All right, once again, we've been speaking with Dr. Malik Burnett, based in Washington, DC. Any closing thoughts you'd like to share, a website, sir?

MALIK BURNETT: Sure. So, brand new development that just came out as of yesterday, which I think will be very helpful to the movement. We are, as physicians, starting an entity called Doctors for Cannabis Regulation. We're going to be working with doctors all across the country. We have doctors in 27 states right now who are willing to come out, engage medical societies, do op-eds, give talks to legislators, to help, you know, educate both physicians and, you know, lawmakers, to say that you don't have to be pro-marijuana to support ending marijuana prohibition, and, you know, this is going to be I think a very helpful sort of addition to the legalization movement in the months and years forward.

DEAN BECKER: All right. And a website?

MALIK BURNETT: Yeah. Doctors For Cannabis Regulation website is www.DFCR.org.

DEAN BECKER: [MUSIC] Never mind that it's a scam,
The drugs czar's in charge.
He says drugs are a sin,
Bow down to prohibition.

It's a privilege to once again be sitting next to one of my heroes, Miss Elvy Musikka, one of the three, four, I'm not sure how many patients left that are provided medical marijuana each and every month by the FDA, the DEA, all the federal government oversight. Elvy, how are you doing?

ELVY MUSIKKA: Well, I'm very happy to be here and see you again, Dean. Thank you so much for all your wonderful work and your knowledge that you pass on, as well as you do. Thank you so much.

DEAN BECKER: Ah, you're very kind, Elvy. Now, for those who may not know, I'm not lying. The federal government sends you a tin can how often, and what's in that can?

ELVY MUSIKKA: Well, first of all, I have permission to get three hundred joints a month, every month. But I have to go to Miami to go get it. Because of that, I only go once a year, and I only bring back a six month's supply. And that's because I live in Oregon and I can get better material for my insomnia anyway, so I combine both of them, the federal and the Oregon weed, and I'm very happy with all the treatment. I had a mishap 37 years after using marijuana, maintaining and improving the optic nerve in my left eye. These idiots sent me hemp. I like wearing my hemp, but didn't do much for the glaucoma. For the first time ever, I lost some of my optic nerve because -- people need to know that I've had glaucoma for 41 years, been diagnosed, and I have never, ever lost any sight to glaucoma, every bit of damage and loss of sight has been done through the surgeries to keep me from the dangerous marijuana, and yes, I'm angry about it.

DEAN BECKER: And who could blame you, Elvy? There's been so much misconception, so much, oh, just violence, truly, perpetrated on people through lack of medical help, lack of -- what's the word I'm looking for? Compassion.

ELVY MUSIKKA: Compassion, yes. I would like to know if there is an organization or anyone wants to start one, but I definitely believe that we, as patients, should be represented by a group of veterans of the war on us, because we don't know who to take our grievances, we have seriously been injured, some of us prompted to die much sooner than we would have, or condemned to miserable lives, and all of this was pointed out specifically to the DEA, who's been our biggest obstacle, and I still don't know why they're in my health issues. But the thing is that they were really told by very wise men exactly what they were doing and why they shouldn't do it, and that would be Judge Francis L. Young.

DEAN BECKER: Right.

ELVY MUSIKKA: Administrative law judge for the DEA, and he sure was disgusted with the way we were being treated, and told the DEA that to keep doing that was unreasonable, arbitrary, and capricious, and of course I always say unconstitutional and immoral, and I want to know why we don't have constitutional rights as does every other citizen in this country but pot smokers do not.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Somehow pushed aside, considered to be unworthy of respect as a citizen.

ELVY MUSIKKA: Uh huh. I am so tired of the, you know, that they now -- so, glad in one way that, obviously, we are coming through the states, the people are making it happen. And so, knowledge is getting out there, no thanks to Uncle Sam. My project is supposed to be an investigative new drug, that's the program I belong to with the federal government, and that's who supplies my marijuana, mostly. And even that, my doctor is made to write complete reports and renew his license constantly, he's even retired but keeps on doing it because he wants to see me stay in that program. Isn't that something? What a lucky person. Yeah.

But, you know, no reports about anything good, there is no research on glaucoma and how I have controlled it for 41 years, and this eye had been, the left eye had been destroyed through a bad surgery at the Manhattan Eye and Ear back in 1953, for Pete's sake. I've always had eye problems. I was born with congenital cataracts. But most of that was removed when I was a child, except for a little bit. Manhattan Eye and Ear, I went in for three days, and ended up a month there, coming back with nothing but light perception and shapes, scar tissue that lasted through the years, and I didn't even realize when it began to disappear, but as I started using marijuana more, on a regular basis, you know, next thing I know, that eye cleared up. And at the beginning of this millennium, I was able to go to Finland, to Norway, to Switzerland, by myself, now, taking jets, I mean, planes, and ferries, and trains, and meeting my family in Finland and doing a lot of press with our issue.

So I really feel that I had a lot more independence before four years ago, 37 years into my treating marijuana with -- I mean, glaucoma with marijuana. That's when they sent me the hemp, and, so, I got an answer. And that is all because of all of you, I am definitely eating a lot of raw marijuana, have not started juicing because I haven't had a chance to grow my own and have those available leaves for juicing, but I intend to go on that, on that diet for at least a year and I am eating it in the meanwhile, I'm eating it raw every day, every morning I have a smoothie with some cannabis. And I have seen improvement, and I see that I'm starting to get back the eye that's been missing for 40 years, after all those stupid surgeries that they did on me back in the 70s, I mean in the 80s. Yes, 70s and 80s.

DEAN BECKER: We're going to close today's show with an abolitionist moment, but in the meantime, I want to remind, that because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is the abolitionist moment.

Prohibition is an awful flop.
We like it.
It can't stop what it's meant to stop.
We like it.
It's left a trail of graft and slime,
It don't prohibit worth a dime,
It's filled our land with vice and crime,
Nevertheless, we're for it.
Franklin Adams, 1931.

Through a willing, or silent, embrace of drug war, we are ensuring more death, disease, crime, and addiction. Some have prospered from a policy of drug prohibition, and dare not allow their stance taken to be examined in a new light. But for the rest, ignorance and superstition will eventually be forgiven. But what Houston has done in the name of drug war will never be forgotten.