01/05/18 Richard Lee

Legal Pot in CA: Steve DeAngelo of Harborside, Richard Lee of Oaksterdam U, Debby Goldsberry of Magnolia wellness, Diane Goldstein of LEAP, Atty Gen Jeff Sessions & Paul Armentano of NORML

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
Friday, January 5, 2018
Richard Lee
Oaksterdam University



JANUARY 5, 2017


DEAN BECKER: I am Dean Becker, your host. Our goal for this program is to expose the fraud, misdirection, 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.

January First, 2018, 6 AM Pacific Coast time, Steve DeAngelo, the owner of Harborside Health Center, used a three foot pair of scissors to cut a ribbon to open his facility for the first sales of legal marijuana in the state of California.

STEVE DEANGELO: With these scissors, I dub thee free.


Neville Purple, what an excellent choice. I'd be happy to sell you this gram of Neville Purple, but you do need to give me your adult identification.

HENRY WYKOWSKI: Okeh, here's my driver's license. Will that work?

STEVE DEANGELO: Yes. Your driver's license will work, and it informs me that you are over the age of 21, and are a legal cannabis consumer.


STEVE DEANGELO: And I will ring up, and the code. That will be $20.10.

HENRY WYKOWSKI: My pleasure. And I have ten cents.

STEVE DEANGELO: That's very helpful. Thank you, Mister Wykowski.

DEAN BECKER: More than one hundred years of California's prohibition of marijuana came to an end at that moment. The first gram for $20.10 was bought by former federal attorney Henry Wykowski, and the gram of Neville's Purple was grown by former Drug Truth Network guest, Swami Chetanya, who I must confess grows some amazingly good cannabis.

It's a big day in California. I think it's a big day for the whole country. I'm glad to be sitting next to my good friend, a man who had a great deal of influence in moving this ball forward, a man who put himself on the line for all of us, for decades now. A former Houstonian, a man who now lives in Oakland, California, my friend, Richard Lee. How are you doing, Rich?

RICHARD LEE: Good, thank you.

DEAN BECKER: Richard, I want to delve back into the past a bit. When it all started gaining steam out there in California, you helping throw coal into the boiler to get it moving. Let's talk about the, your first days in California. How did you get into this arena?

RICHARD LEE: Well, I heard about Dennis Peron and the San Francisco Cannabis Buyers Club, and so my first thought was to go out and to help him to grow cannabis to provide for this medical marijuana club, but then I met Jeff Jones, and I would up working with him and the Oakland Cannabis Buyers Cooperative, which opened right after Dennis got busted in '96, so you could say Jeff is the one who picked up the torch, and then I kind of followed in behind him.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Now, there were, you know, for a store to open there's got to be providers. There were several people providing for the OCBC back then, right?

RICHARD LEE: Oh yeah. Yeah. Varied from time to time, and you had different people at different times. It wasn't like there was just one set group that was there all the time. You'd have people who'd come and go.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Now, you know, I had the opportunity to look at one of the mother rooms out there in Oakland, it was, jeez, a warehouse, I don't know, 150 by 150 square feet just filled with these mother plants. Was that kind of typical for back then?

RICHARD LEE: Well, our nursery, our clone business was one of the first big clone businesses that provided plants for people to grow their own, if that's what you mean, but as far as grow rooms in general, they came in all sizes and shapes.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Yeah, I mean, being in Texas here, I don't have that familiarity with, you know, how common it might be, but there were a lot of folks involved, right?

RICHARD LEE: Yes, yes. I like to say I was just one small soldier in a big war.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and it's still a big war here in Texas, I tell you. Well, I tell you, Richard, you know, I had the opportunity to go to the SR71, and the Bulldog Coffeeshops, and to experience the, I don't know, the willingness of that city at the least to allow this to happen. How did it happen in Oakland, what kickstarted it there?

RICHARD LEE: Jeff Jones, really, is one of the main guys who got it all going, and working with city councilman Nate Miley, now he's Alameda County Supervisor Nate Miley, but back when he was on the Oakland City Council, he was one of our chief allies and proponents in city government to cause the city of Oakland to be one of the first cities to allow medical marijuana back in the 1990s.

DEAN BECKER: Right. The Bulldog and SR71, you know, to, to just experience the freedom, if you will, the legality, the liberty, of being able to purchase cannabis as an adult, was a pretty neat thing. I think it's -- it's representative of what's kind of catching on around the country. It's certainly cloned itself around the US, hasn't it?

RICHARD LEE: Yes, and I can relate to what you're talking about, back to my trips to Amsterdam in the '90s, to be able to fly into Amsterdam and go into a coffeeshop right across the street from the hotel at whatever hour you got in and be able to get some good bud, that was a -- it's a great and wonderful thing. And so it's great that now it's finally spreading to more and more states here in the US.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. It certainly is. Now, Richard, as I mentioned when I opened this, the, today, we're talking about January First, marijuana is legal in California. What does that mean, sir, what is the difference?

RICHARD LEE: Well, for Californians, it's really not that big a difference, because the medical marijuana system there has been pretty relaxed and open for many years. In Los Angeles, there have been about seven to 800 quote unquote "dispensaries" open, but they haven't been that strict on their medical marijuana protocols, so really it's been pretty much legal in California for many years, but what it -- where it's really going to make a big difference and be so important is for the other states, for the rest of the United States, to have the largest, one of if not the largest state, legal.


RICHARD LEE: To add it to, to now we have eight states that are legal, and so we're going to have more this year, in 2018. Vermont, it looks like, is going to legalize through the legislature this year. New Jersey, the governor, the new governor, said he's going to legalize. He ran on a legalization platform there. And then California becoming -- opening up sales from the referendum that passed last year today.


RICHARD LEE: Great kinds of things moving forward. More states, because it's going to take quite a few states before the federal government's going to finally give in, but that's what the big battle we're -- we've got to win, in the long run. And so hopefully Ohio's talking about getting on the ballot this year, Michigan, possibly Arizona, and then a couple more medical marijuana states like Oklahoma and Missouri could be on the ballot this year, so, that's all signs of things continuing to go our way, if not, unfortunately, a lot slower than we would have hoped.

But, you never know about Trump. He's crazy. He could do what -- anything, anytime, so maybe he'll finally, he'll see the political advantage that we now have a majority of people for legalization, so he might be a smart enough politician to realize that he'll win more votes than he'll lose by coming out for legalization.

DEAN BECKER: I think there's certainly that possibility. It's getting writ pretty large, that the people embrace this idea and more and more politicians are moving in that direction. Right here in Texas, we have our own Beto O'Rourke running for Ted Cruz's Senate seat, and he actually wrote a book calling for the legalization before he ever got elected to any office.

RICHARD LEE: And it's a great story on Beto, on how he got his Congressional seat, how he got to be in Congress, in that, when he came out for legalization when he was on the El Paso City Council, if I remember correct, that the current -- the Congressman at the time laughed at him, and told him he was crazy for being for legalization, and then he wound up running against him and taking his seat, so, that's a great story.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, it is. Now, you know, coming back to the idea that Oakland has changed. I remember there was kind of a middle period there where the Measure Z was put in place to, to bring more legalization to the sales of cannabis. Tell us about that measure, what it meant to Oakland.

RICHARD LEE: Unfortunately, the city of Oakland fought against it, and after it passed with 65 percent of the vote, but that was back in 2004, and Oakland had just become the first city to issue permits for medical marijuana, so, it may have been pushing too much too fast for them.

But, it called on the decriminalization of all cannabis offenses, including private sales of cannabis. But unfortunately, the city didn't, it really fought against it and used some legalese tactics to keep it from being fully implemented.

DEAN BECKER: Richard, it was back in 2010, you helped sponsor a bill to legalize cannabis in the state of California. If you would, tell us a little bit about that measure and the results.

RICHARD LEE: You're talking about Prop 19, which failed with -- by 53 to 47 percent, and, but it generated, we figure, somewhere in the neighborhood of half a billion dollars in positive media coverage for legalization. It was the first time that people started talking about complete legalization for all adults instead of just medical marijuana, so I'm real proud of all the good work that Prop 19 did, not only in getting a lot more coverage of the issue, but also in getting a lot more people involved in legalization.

I've heard of quite a few people who are now -- have invested millions of dollars or raised millions of dollars for cannabis companies who first got started because of Prop 19.

DEAN BECKER: And that's becoming a huge industry, as Colorado, Washington state, have proven, I think, thus far, that it's a means for certain people to rise through the ranks, so to speak, if they're lucky enough to get the proper license and maybe the right compadres to fund their efforts. But it's becoming a multi-billion dollar legal effort these days.

RICHARD LEE: Right, and like you say, it's just a matter of it switching from illegal to legal. The business has been there, people have been consuming cannabis as we know, whether it's illegal or legal, you know, we're not really talking about changing that much as far as the consumption. What we're talking about is freeing up the police to go after the real criminals, and to allow taxes to be collected, like they are on everything else.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Once again we're speaking with Mister Richard Lee, of Oaksterdam fame. Houstonian by birth, Oaksterdamer by choice these days. Rich, I almost forgot something. I am a graduate, got an advanced degree from Oaksterdam University. Let's talk about that for a moment and maybe its impact on this effort towards legalization.

RICHARD LEE: Yeah, I'm real proud of everything that Oaksterdam University has done. We just celebrated the ten year anniversary of the founding of Oaksterdam, had a big party in Oakland with over a thousand people, standing room only event, and it's been great to see so many of the graduates. We've had 30,000 graduates now in the last 10 years, and most of those are from other states.

And so they're taking what they're learned and going back and working on legalization in their home states or in starting businesses in other places, not just California.

DEAN BECKER: When I first started this discussion, I talked about nearly legal, or closer to legal. It was here in Texas, Representative Simpson said legal is when you treat it like tomatoes. And I don't know that we'll ever get to that point, but, there's still, from my perspective, a continual funding of the black market, a continual means for the black market to exist, because of the high prices. Your thought in that regard, Richard.

RICHARD LEE: Well, I agree that it's being overtaxed and over-regulated now, but, you're right, in that legalization is more complicated than just saying it's like tomatoes. Tomatoes is one form of legalization. Budweiser beer is another form. Jack Daniels is another form of legalization. Here in Texas you have different rules for beer and hard alcohol, and so, it's a -- that's going to be a long struggle on fighting for what our -- what is the proper taxes and regulations, what are reasonable laws.

Alcohol prohibition didn't end completely overnight. In fact, I was just reading the other day about how in Houston here, the first bar to have a mixed alcohol license, to actually be able to sell mixed drinks, didn't happen until the 1960s.


RICHARD LEE: So you think of prohibition as ending in 1932, but actually it was a long battle to -- they first legalized beer, or near beer, and then beer, and then hard alcohol, and you still have dry counties, and so, it's an ongoing battle to fight the government and the bureaucrats who want to overtax and over-regulate anything -- everything.

DEAN BECKER: Sure. My hat is off to you. I've watched you over the decades now, and, you know, tried to emulate a little bit of your courage. But the fact of the matter is, it really takes courage, it takes courage for the people who know this truth about cannabis to actually say it out loud, to share it with their elected officials, with their neighbors, to generate the momentum, to keep this moving in other states. Would you agree with that thought?

RICHARD LEE: Yes, and especially courage for people to start cannabis businesses before it's completely legal. But that's what it takes. As we know, it's a chicken and egg kind of thing, that legalization doesn't happen if everybody waits for it to be completely legal. It takes people pushing it forward and risking -- taking great risks.

DEAN BECKER: Sure. I had a chance to move to California, to get involved in the effort. I chose not to because I want to change it here. I hear the stories, I get the emails and the phone calls from the people that got busted for a little bit of that and a little bit of that, and the courts just don't forgive these minor amounts. Not yet.

And I guess what I'm saying is that it can be done. I've been public with my use, I've discussed with the DA, sheriff, and the police chief, and they talk about how cannabis is of benefit for people with certain maladies. It's okeh to talk about this now, isn't it, Rich?

RICHARD LEE: Yes. And in fact, if you look up medical marijuana dispensaries in Houston, you'll see there's already a few listed.


RICHARD LEE: Completely underground, well they're not totally underground if they're on the internet, but totally illegal ones that are fighting the good fight, and I think with the way the politics are going here in Houston, you know, a la, partly from your interviews with the police chief, and the mayor.


RICHARD LEE: That there's a good opening for people to push things forward, even while we're waiting for the Texas Legislature to get its act together.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Oh yeah. That's, that's the -- and I hear it's just one or two people that won't allow a hearing, that won't allow a vote, because it -- if they were allowed to take a secret ballot, I think it would pass on the first attempt.

RICHARD LEE: Yeah, and a lot of it just has to do with Texas politics. The rural counties have as many votes as Houston and Austin and San Antonio do, and so therefore can out-vote the more progressive, or enlightened politicians.

DEAN BECKER: Rich, I'm going to reach back one more time to the early days, when I guess Dennis got busted, Jeff Jones was kickstarting the OCBC, and you opened up, was it Bulldog first? And, that must have been a, I don't know, if not totally frightening, at least a little paranoid on that day. What's your, what's your response?

RICHARD LEE: The way I remember those days is that every day we expected to get busted, and then when we didn't, we went to bed, and opened up the next day expecting to get busted that day. So, that's all you can say, is you just go, you know, you look back and you wonder how you did things sometimes, but, somehow we managed to pull it off.

And what was really great, but also sad in a way, is that we had onsite consumption back then, in the early 2000s. We had smoking areas, ventilated smoking areas, and we had a full coffeeshop like Amsterdam, because that's what I always saw legalization should be like, it should be like the coffeeshops in Amsterdam, where you can go in and have a snack and a hot drink, or cold drink, and have a smoke. And so it's so sad now, that even with full legalization in California, there's no onsite consumption allowed anywhere in the state, that it's all just to go.

And in fact, the areas where you're allowed to smoke are very, very restricted. It's pretty much in your own home, or house.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Well, friends, we've been speaking with Mister Richard Lee, the founder of Oaksterdam University, the funder of Prop 19, the marijuana legalization effort in California, the former owner of the Bulldog and SR71, and a real pioneer. Richard, is there a website, some closing thoughts you'd like to share?

RICHARD LEE: If you're interested in attending Oaksterdam University, you can look up Oaksterdam University, OaksterdamUniversity.com, and check on the availability of classes, and come to Oakland, Oaksterdam, and check out the beautiful weather we have in the summer, nice and cool, if you want to get away from the heat here in Houston.

VOICE: Okeh, let's say drug prohibition does support terrorism.

DEAN BECKER: And murder.

VOICE: And murder.


VOICE: And torture.

DEAN BECKER: Corruption. Bribery.

VOICE: And, whatever.

DEAN BECKER: What's your point?

VOICE: Change the law.

DEAN BECKER: I got you. Make it cheap. More available. Everywhere. Like soda, or cheesy puffs.

VOICE: Exactly.

DEAN BECKER: Cocaine at the playground. Crack stands at the laundromat. Heroin at the mini-mart. Like that?

VOICE: Face it, old man. That's what we've got now.

DEAN BECKER: Well, earlier in the show, we heard from Mister Richard Lee, who opened a couple of coffeeshops in Oaksterdam, but now we're going to talk to one of his compadres, another pioneer, who was very instrumental in getting the ball rolling in California, who now runs a cannabis dispensary in Berkeley, Magnolia Wellness. She's author of a book, Starting And Running A Marijuana Business, and with that I want to welcome my friend Debby Goldsberry. How are you doing, Debby?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Oh, really good. I'm so crazy busy here making the transition to a regulated cannabis market. It's been exciting and hard, and just crazy, crazy.

DEAN BECKER: I would think so. I've seen some of your posts, I've seen some of the stuff on the net. It's a really booming and interesting moment, I think. Right?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: I think so too, you know, prohibition of marijuana is only going to end one time in California. Here we are watching it happen. You know, it's not perfect, it's a difficult transition, it's been illegal for more than a hundred years here in California. I think the regulations have room to improve, but they're pretty darned good out the door and we're happy with where we are.

DEAN BECKER: Right, and yeah, it's -- it's not set in stone, it's going to be nuanced. I'm sure every year or two, a little change, a little adjustment to make it easier on the customer and the owners, like you.

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Yeah, well, for example, we already know they're going to improve the law in the early part of this year, and allow shared manufacturing spaces, which we really need, you know, for example, Magnolia Wellness, which is in Oakland, close to Berkeley, next door, we have an onsite manufacturing space, a commercial kitchen, we could share with probably five or six other companies. Right now, the state law says we can only use it alone, but in the beginning of the year, maybe sometime next month or the month after that, the state law will change so we can share our space with multiple people.

We're really looking forward to the regulations improving. Look, we're so lucky that our state regulatory body supports what's happening. They're not trying to stop innovation, they're trying to create good, workable regulations, and get as many people licensed as possible.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I would think the nature of your book, Starting And Running A Marijuana Business, the fact that you're one of the few, because in California, there's going to be hundreds if not thousands of dispensaries, but you're one of the relative few dozen that actually has a license and could open your doors on January One, right?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Yeah, well, the writing's been on the wall for a couple years. California was going to create a regulated cannabis market, and people who were really, just sort of wrapped their heads around it, were in denial, pretending it wasn't going to happen. Worked very hard to get themselves into position, in a city that was going to allow it, and create businesses that could be regulated fast.

Now unfortunately, a lot of people are left out of the marketplace, because they guessed wrong. They thought that their city or county would make regulations to allow cannabis uses, and now they're not. So people are losing their companies right now all over the state of California because their local regulations don't allow the use that they want to -- that they want to, you know, they want to manufacture, it's not allowed in their county.

So we've got so much work to do over here, going county by county and city by city, changing the laws to allow these uses.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, I was talking to Richard Lee about that, that a lot of folks tried to get their license set up, and get a few funders, and get things rolling, but in some cases it's not going to pan out. Right?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: It's not. And, you know, my advice to people who've been in the industry for a long time, but who maybe they're great cannabis growers but they don't really know how to start or run a corporation, which is a whole different ballgame than growing cannabis. This isn't farming, this isn't enjoyable, even though it's very difficult to grow marijuana, I'm not trying to say it's easy, it's really difficult to run a compliant company in today's California cannabis market.

You need to partner with somebody who has the other talents that you don't. So even at Magnolia, the reason that we've succeeded is because I knew my weak point. I need a strong chief financial officer, CFO, who knows numbers inside and out, who can speak that language, and can make sure that our dispensary's compliant, all the way through inventory management, sales, tracking, taxes. Partnership is the key. If you can't do it alone, find your -- find the left hand to your right hand.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Now, trying to recall, I had the opportunity to visit Magnolia Wellness out there in Berkeley this past summer, and if I recall right, you guys are going to have a smoking area? Is that, am I wrong?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Yeah, we have an onsite consumption permit from our city, and it allows us to vaporize cannabis. We can't smoke inside, it's against the current regulations here in Oakland. No smoking, but we can vaporize, we can dab, we can eat edibles, we can do topicals, so we do cannabis massage, you know, we do vaporizer, those Volcano vaporizer bags for people that want to try out the cannabis.

And the new law still allows us to give free samples to any medical marijuana patient who comes through. Adults have to purchase their marijuana, but medical marijuana patients we can give stuff for free.

DEAN BECKER: Well, that's interesting. Now, I know that over the past, well, since you've been open, I think maybe once a month you would have kind of an open vendor fair, there at the grounds of your facility. Are you going to be able to continue that?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Yeah, the medical marijuana farmer's market. We'll have to revise the way that we do things. We're going to put it on pause until either March or April, we'll be back with the market. We can't really be outdoors right now, the weather's unpredictable anyway. We'll, yes, we'll definitely keep doing that.

It's really great for the consumers to be able to meet the producers, to talk to them, and to get direct deals from the producers. Of course, the new regulations are going to require us to change up the way we do it. Only our staff members will be able to sell the marijuana, you know, so we might -- we'll figure out the workarounds and what it looks like, but the medical marijuana farmer's market is so much fun and so nice, just -- it's exactly what you might imagine it would be, and it's kind of a dream come true to have it here at our facility.

DEAN BECKER: Right. You have edibles, you have bud, you have all the various means by which you can use cannabis. And brought to you by the grower, or the baker, or the people that originated the product. Right?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Exactly. And part of what's good for the producers is that normally they're back in their manufacturing space, making products, or they're locked away in a grow room making sure that cannabis is pure and clean. They rarely get to meet the consumer who uses their products.

So it provides an essential feedback loop to the producers also. What do the patients think about my medicine. So, it's great.

DEAN BECKER: Now, I wanted to ask you, when the doors opened on January One, I'm sure there was a line. Maybe that was the busiest day ever, I don't know, but, has it continued to be, you know, large crowds?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Yeah, I think our sales have doubled over the last few days. They were more than doubled on day one, and now they're just staying at a steady rate of double. So, we'll see what the future brings. I expect growth to continue, strong.

DEAN BECKER: Okeh. Now, as I understand it, out there in California, probably most of the folks who wanted to enjoy cannabis were able to get a doctor's recommendation. But I also understand that there were those few, or maybe several, that were holding off, until it was actually legal and they could do it with a good conscience. How are you perceiving that situation?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Well, you kind of nailed it. We didn't know what to expect on day one, because we thought that same thing. Anybody who's wanted to get a marijuana card has been able to get it, they have all these online doctor services. It's not hard. How many people really were going to come rushing in as new members, who haven't been in a dispensary? The answer is, a lot.

There are a lot of people who stayed away from the dispensary system, who never wanted to game that system, who simply didn't have a health condition that benefited it. They wanted to use marijuana personally, for personal reasons, and not medical, and now they're thrilled to be able to come into a dispensary.

We're also seeing tourists, you know, people who came from other parts of the country. They're here with their family, who either was a medical marijuana patient and always wanted to bring in their family members, or somebody who's local that always wanted to check out a dispensary that wasn't medical, and now their friends are in town and they're going to come check it out.

So we're seeing groups of people coming together, just to check the place out and get a little marijuana to sample as kind of a novelty. So that's been really very fun. But it takes us back to square one, you know, most medical marijuana patients, we've educated them about the marijuana, they know how to use it, they know what it is, they know what benefits them.

But with the new users, now we're explaining it all from scratch, you know? It's practically down to this is marijuana, you know, here's what a flower looks like, here's a vape pen, here's kind of the expected response and active -- that the active ingredients will give you. So we're finding it a heavy lift, it's fun, but we're back at square one, explaining the active ingredients of marijuana, how they will, or helping people pick what's going to be best for them.

DEAN BECKER: Right, and I would imagine the big concern, both for the customer and for you guys, is that you want to educate them about edibles, because there are so many misconceptions that, you know, misuse that could happen there, if they just don't know what they're up to. Your thought?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Yeah, well, this is one of the reasons we were luck that Colorado went first, because they had a lot of problems with people just ingesting too high of a dose of marijuana in edible form, and a lot of the sort of regular users have had that happen before. You feel like you're going to die. You're not going to die. It feels like a heart attack, it's a panic attack.


DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: You know, you just need to lay down and hold somebody's hand, or take a bath, or drink some hot milk, or something like that. You'll be fine. But the panic is very unpleasant.

So we learned in Colorado that people were having those problems, and ending up going to the emergency room, so our laws here in California, they require a very low dose. So every cannabis edible that we provide ever since January First has to be marked with a 10 milligram serving size, and if the edible itself isn't ten milligrams, we have to specifically teach people how to make the edible into a ten milligram dose. Take it home and cut it into two point five pieces, and ingest only, you know, only ingest one part of it.

DEAN BECKER: Right. Well, you know, I, speaking of panic attacks, I was smoking with Mister Jack Herer, must have been 10, 12 years ago, it was in a hotel room and there were kids showing -- sharing their crop, trying to give the best buds and get Jack's opinion, and about halfway through the interview I was going with Jack, I had a panic attack. It was like I was leaving the room, and I walked out of the room, and told Jack we'll have to do it later.

And as I got down the hall I realized I had just had a panic attack, and by realizing it, it went away. And I went back --


DEAN BECKER: -- I went back and finished the interview with Jack, and that was the only time I've ever had it. But it was -- I got overloaded with cannabis, and I've been doing it, well, at that point for 40 years. And, we do have to be careful on the level of cannabis, but otherwise, it's really not going to hurt us, right?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Well, this is the thing, cannabis use has been so underground, people hid in their closet smoking marijuana, you know, how is somebody supposed to learn for the first time if there's no methodology to learn, if there's nobody that can teach them, if they can't be shown the way.

So that's part of the reason why we fought so hard for our onsite consumption license, so we can show people how to consume it. We can show people what the right dosage is, and that we can be there for them as they experience it, in case they don't feel, you know, in case they want to ask those questions. Am I okeh? Yes, you're fine, you know.


DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: And like you said, people feel fine, so, there -- it is a little bit of a transition coming out of the underground cannabis market, to where we are today. We have to teach people what does responsible cannabis use look like.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I kind of envy your customers that get to use that Volcano vaporizer, because it was 30 years before I ever saw one, and it's a good means to first enjoy cannabis. There's not that coughing so much, there's just a mild euphoria. Right?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Yeah, well, the nice thing about those vaporizers is, you know, people don't want to consume the plant matter. That's the problem with smoking, right, you're firing up carbon based plant matter. But the fact is, is that the active ingredients of cannabis evaporate at a lower temperature than the plant matter burns.

So you can put your marijuana into a Volcano vaporizer or any of the vaporizer tools, and you can set it to the temperature just for the active ingredients, THC and CBD, to evaporate. The plant matter stays intact, it's a much purer form of ingestion.

DEAN BECKER: I want to talk about the utilization of the cannabis plant. I mean, they make, these days, dab, and hash oil, and all of these extracts, if you will. It seems to be a favorite amongst the youngsters. But I like to think of the fact that you -- they now use the leaves, the trimmings, when they make candy or some of the edibles, it's like, every portion of it has a use. Correct?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: It is true, even the stems can be useful for a very calming tea that doesn't get you high at all. And people use every part of the plant. In California, they made a two -- for the flowers, they made two tiers. One for plants that you're going to sell as whole plant medicine, so people are going to buy the actual cannabis flower, and one scheme to introduce materials that will be used for manufacturing, that you wouldn't necessarily want to smoke. Those are things that are less finished and of lower potency, and you use them to extract the THC and the CBD from them.

And in the state system here in California, there's different tax rates for those, and so it sort of creates two streams of products that people can provide. When you grow a marijuana plant, you get, you know, only about half of your plant is going to be shelf-ready as marijuana flowers for sale. The rest of it goes into the secondary market, on a different tax scheme, and it's made into products like edibles.

DEAN BECKER: All right. Well, folks, we've been speaking with Ms. Debby Goldsberry. She's the owner of Magnolia Wellness out there in Berkeley [Oakland], California. If you're ever out there, go visit them. Debby and her staff are top notch. They'll get you educated, they'll be able to supply the product that you need, and, I don't know, Debby's just a sweetheart. You should go out there and meet her, if for no other reason.

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: I'll look forward to it. You know, our goal is simple, to supply the best medicine served by the nicest people. So, keep it simple. Come here, and we will give you the best experience that we can possibly provide.

DEAN BECKER: I know that for certain. Debby, is there a website you'd like to share with the listener?

DEBBY GOLDSBERRY: Yeah, www.MagnoliaWellness.org. And we also have a very active Facebook page, Magnolia Wellness.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Agitation, paranoia, hallucinations, face chomping, lip eating, heart devouring, brain slurping, ecstasy, suicidality, zombie-ism. Time's up! The answer, according to law enforcement, from some crazy ass chemist somewhere: mephedrone, otherwise known as bath salts.

Today we're listening to the thoughts of those in California, just a couple of days in with legal cannabis. And one of those who's been very much involved in that effort, who's been, well, involved on both sides, I guess, for years, is my friend, one of the board of directors of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, my friend, Diane M. Goldstein. How are you doing?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Thank you very much, Dean, it's always wonderful to be on with you, and the amazing listeners that you have.

DEAN BECKER: Well, thank you, and Diane, you know, I have several kind of technical questions, hell, maybe nobody has the answer to yet, but how does it feel just as a California citizen? Does it -- what does it feel like?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: You know, I think it's pretty stunning, for me in particular, because of my law enforcement background, so, I was there in 1996 when Proposition 215 first got passed, and to see the transition from law enforcement undermining the voters' will, to now supporting it, it's -- for the most part, I mean, there, I think that there are still plenty of issues going around that law enforcement is doing that is not going to help the smooth transition into the regulated market, but, it really is like a whole new paradigm shift.

I was a speaker at the Emerald Cup, in December, and I ended up having a new LEAP speaker who lives up in Sonoma who came, and we walked around together, and he's a retired San Francisco Police Department sergeant. And we had this conversation, to see Santa Rosa Police Department, because the Emerald Cup is held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds, standing there in full uniform, outside of the speakers halls where we're talking about the evolution of cannabis laws, and the drug war, and then seeing the thousands and thousands of people who are celebrating the beginning of the end of the war on cannabis.

And I think California is really going to force that issue, because I don't believe there's any way that the federal government can come in and stop this industry at this point.

DEAN BECKER: No, I mean, it would honest to god take a million DEA paratroopers with machine guns killing kids, I mean, it can't be done.


DEAN BECKER: Well, Diane, I want to get to some of those technical questions, and again, you may not know, hell, nobody may know the answers to this, but, can cops in California now smoke weed in their off time, I wonder, you know? How about doctors? I mean, what is -- what is the new perspective?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: So, the new perspective is, you know, law enforcement, because we carry guns, and because cannabis is still a schedule federal one drug, we're not going to be allowed to use marijuana in their off time. And I don't think we've evolved that far.

One of the things I think is going to be the next bellwether in places, we're going to need to address some significant reform, is in employee testing. You know, it's, I kind of joke about this, but, you know, law enforcement in particular will not allow their officers to be drug tested unless they've met and conferred with the city that they work for, so to speak, and gotten significant concessions for the memorandums of understanding.

And so, if cops are fighting being randomly drug tested, you know, why doesn't the rest of the population have those same rights?


DIANE GOLDSTEIN: And, you know, a lot of it has to do with union issues, employment rights, and that marijuana is still, cannabis is still a schedule one drug. And so, you know, for a lot of universities, for example, who take federal money, they have to maintain, in order to continue to get their federal money, a drug free workplace, or a drug free campus.

And so what we're seeing is like the UC system has pretty much come out and said, hey, just because you're 21 doesn't mean you get to smoke cannabis on campus, in dorm environments. So there's a lot of things that have not changed that we need to look at and change for the future.

DEAN BECKER: Oh, exactly, and you know, there's always that, the one that always boggles me, that those same cops can go home and drink a fifth of Jack Daniels every night, if they want to, and then they can --


DEAN BECKER: -- go to work the next morning and no one gives a dang. Anyhow, well, Diane, let's come back to what this impact might be to the country, hell, to the world. And it is swinging the cat, it is making an impact with the media, and it's a whole lot less tongue in cheek, or at least it's diminishing, isn't it?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: It is, and you know what, it's real interesting that, I have a fairly large twitter following, and somebody sent me a mugshot of a female that was arrested by San Diego Police Department back in the heyday of -- the photograph itself is a black and white photograph, and under her booking photo, it says, weed and tramp.

DEAN BECKER: I'm sorry, but, yeah.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: But it is, it's, I mean, I think that literally is, and what I put out was, you know, this is a step towards the smell of freedom. And so, I think one of the things that, what we need to remember is the drug war and the war on cannabis in particular has been used to undermine American civil liberties.

I don't know if you saw this article, Dean, but I think, not yesterday but the day before, in Georgia, north of Atlanta, almost 70 young African Americans were arrested who attended a birthday party at someone's house, because the cops found less than an ounce of marijuana, and what they're saying is because nobody admitted to it, everybody was within arm's reach, so everybody went to jail.

DEAN BECKER: I did see the story, and it just -- it boggles the brain. It does, that so much time, effort, money, manpower, could be invested into this. It's terrible.

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: Yes. It's absolutely, absolutely horrible. And so, again, you know, is one of the things that I think is going to happen is, we're seeing kind of the, every state, a state at a time, just like we did with alcohol prohibition, it hasn't happened as fast as, you know, the death of alcohol prohibition, but I think that the states are going to continue to force this issue, and so, you know, the two most important things that we need to work on, which is the number one priority, I think, is federal de-scheduling.

You know, rescheduling I'll accept, but we really need to de-schedule cannabis completely off that list. This is a nutriceutical, yes, it, you know, we can talk about hemp, we can talk about CBD, and then we can regulate, you know, high THC or higher THC, that is sold similar to alcohol.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. Oh, and I think it has, cannabis has proven its worth, its value, being recognized as such, even though I still hate much of that tongue in cheek stuff, but --


DEAN BECKER: -- it's better than what they used to do. All right, friends, we've been speaking with Ms. Diane Goldstein of the Law Enforcement Action Partnership, an activist extraordinaire. Diane, any closing thoughts you might want to share?

DIANE GOLDSTEIN: You know, what I would tell all the cannabis consumers out there is that the drug war isn't over, and as much as I support the issue of cannabis exceptionalism, and it shouldn't be regulated like, you know, other, more dangerous drugs, not to forget that the bottom line is the drug war needs to end, and whether those drugs are heroin, cocaine, MDMA, ecstasy, mushrooms, or cannabis.

And so, we'll regulate other drugs differently, but we must end the drug war, in order to further all Americans' civil liberties.

DEAN BECKER: Again, that was Diane Goldstein, a speaker, a board member, of Law Enforcement Action Partnership, on the web at LEAP.cc.

Two days ago, US Attorney [General] Jeff Sessions decided to put an end to this legal marijuana. He decided to repeal the Cole memo, which gives legal growers the right to grow, despite the federal law.

JEFFERSON BEAUREGARD SESSIONS III: And we're going to see more marijuana use, it's not going to be good. I mean, we need grown ups in charge in Washington to say marijuana is not the kind of thing that ought to be legalized, it ought not to be minimized, that it's in fact a very real danger.

DEAN BECKER: This pot's so good that when I smoke it, the government freaks out.

Today we're getting the thoughts of folks in California about the new legalization of cannabis, and I'm glad to have with us a gentleman who's had his boots on the ground for a couple of decades now. He's the deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, Mister Paul Armentano's with us. Hey, Paul.

PAUL ARMENTANO: Thank you for having me, Dean, it's good to speak with you.

DEAN BECKER: Paul, this is a big step for the nation. If you would, give us some of the details, or the changes, that are going into effect. What's different there in California?

PAUL ARMENTANO: Sure. Well, to be clear, this isn't necessarily a new frontier for Californians, but it is an expansion of our existing frontier.

For the past two decades, California has regulated the use, the distribution, and the sale of marijuana for medical purposes, and for the better part of the past 14 months, any adult in California has legally had the right to grow marijuana in their home, and to possess up to an ounce of marijuana.

Now, as of January First, what has changed primarily is that those adults who in the past were able to legally possess and grow marijuana, now also have the option to purchase marijuana at retail facilities, presuming those facilities are licensed by both the state and their locality to engage in sales of marijuana, not just for medical purposes, but also for adults.

DEAN BECKER: You know, one of the times I lived in California, I was up at Lake Isabella, near Bakersfield, Kern County, and as I understand it, they are kind of putting the kibosh on it, they're not allowing legal sales in many of those localities. Correct?

PAUL ARMENTANO: So, this is going to be a long standing evolutionary process. When we look historically at states like Colorado, Oregon, Washington, other jurisdictions that already allow legal retail adult use sales of cannabis, what we see is that in all of these areas, there is home rule. There is the option for municipalities, if they wish to, to opt out of retail establishments for cannabis.

That's the case in other parts of the country, that is also the case in California. So what we've seen is that a number of large municipalities have come on board. Cities like San Francisco, Santa Cruz, Los Angeles, Sacramento, Berkeley, but conversely, a number of municipalities have also for the time being elected to take a wait and see approach.

What I would imagine is going to happen is as time moves forward, as this roll out in California becomes seen by others as a success, when other cities and counties see the revenue that's being brought in, sees the jobs that are being created, they will eventually shift their stance and come on board as well.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and that, let's extrapolate that to a national aspect, if you will, and that is, the benefits, the millions if not billions flowing into the coffers of these government agencies, folks around the country will get jealous. People in Texas might even reconsider their stance. Your thought there, Paul.

PAUL ARMENTANO: You know as well as I do, when we look at the national polling, some six in ten Americans now say that they believe marijuana ought to be legal. Unfortunately, that public support in many parts of the country has yet to translate into political support. Keep in mind, even in the eight states that now permit the adult use and sale of marijuana, in every one of those instances, those changes in legislation were passed by a direct vote of the people. They were not enacted by their lawmakers.

DEAN BECKER: Now, if I understand right, we have the potential of a couple of states, if I'm not mistaken, New Jersey and is it Connecticut? that are thinking of just doing it at the legislative level?

PAUL ARMENTANO: So, there are a number of states that are eyeing taking legislative action with regard to reforming their adult use marijuana possession laws. We know that Vermont, for instance, may be only weeks away from sending a measure to the governor's desk that would eliminate all civil and criminal penalties for the minor possession and personal cultivation of marijuana by adults, and the governor has indicated he is very likely to sign that bill into law when it reaches his desk.

We know that the governor-elect of New Jersey has pledged to sign an adult use regulatory bill within the first hundred days of his administration. Delaware is just wrapping up a legislative task force that is going to be making recommendations to the legislature with regard to legalization. Connecticut is also a state that is discussing this issue as part of their budgetary session.

In addition, we know that there's a number of states that are going to vote on marijuana related issues in November on their state ballot. Michigan is very likely to decide on adult use legalization, Oklahoma is going to decide on a broad medical marijuana implementation bill, Missouri is very likely to decide on medical marijuana, as is Utah.

So, this is going to be a very busy legislative session, and it's also going to be a very busy midterm electoral session, when again, we see a number of states, and the voters in those states, making the decision what sort of marijuana policies they want to live with.

DEAN BECKER: You know, I don't have all the details in front of me, but when they ended alcohol prohibition, it was New York that just wasn't going to get involved, it was other states that started to say, you know, not in my back yard, that wanted this to end. And, in that instance, they actually had a Constitutional amendment to bring forward that prohibition, and then they had another reversal of that to end the prohibition.

What's it going to take? How many states are going to have to be on the other side for the federal government to re-examine the policy?

PAUL ARMENTANO: You know, that's a great question, and the parallel is somewhat appropriate. You're right, it wasn't just New York, but it was a total of ten states opting out of the federal prohibition of alcohol in the 1930s that eventually prompted the federal government to come to a crossroads, and decide whether it wanted to use its limited federal resources and manpower to try to enforce an unpopular federal policy in these states that had rejected it, or if it was time for the federal government to reconsider that policy.

Of course, the lawmakers decided on the latter, and they decided that alcohol was a substance best regulated by individual states. That's why we have this sort of fifty state patchwork when it comes to the regulation of alcohol. Certainly the way Connecticut regulates alcohol is nothing like the way Texas regulates alcohol, or the way California and Colorado and Oklahoma regulate alcohol.

So the federal government made that decision when it came to alcohol. I believe at some future point in time, an administration, the federal government, is going to come to a similar crossroad. Right now we have 30 states that by statute authorize the medical use of cannabis. We have eight states and the District of Columbia that permit adults to legally use cannabis.

Clearly, this is an issue where the majority of the public has reached a decision that is contrary to that of the federal government, and ultimately it's going to be up to Congress to amend federal law in a manner that comports with cannabis's rapidly changing legal and cultural status in America.

DEAN BECKER: Well, friends, we've been speaking with Mister Paul Armentano, he is deputy director of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. They're out there on the web at NORML.org. Paul, I want to give you a chance to share your thoughts with the listeners out there that are in those states where it not legal, and what they hell they can do about it.

PAUL ARMENTANO: Well, this is a legislative issue, and because it's a legislative issue, again, the burden falls upon lawmakers to institute changes in the law, and lawmakers only act when their constituents pressure them to act. So when we're talking about jurisdictions, like Illinois, like Kansas, like Texas, places that do not have an initiative direct ballot option, there really remains only one way to change the law, and that is to convince a majority of lawmakers and the governor of that state to sign legislation that amends the existing law.

That's the only way it can be done, it's a lot of work to get that done, but that's the process, and we have to utilize it.

DEAN BECKER: As we close out, I've just got to say, if Jeff Sessions thinks he can deny the will of a hundred million Americans, he really has his head up his ass.

And again, I remind you, because of prohibition, you donÔÇÖt know whatÔÇÖs 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.