05/03/15 Doug McVay

Century of Lies

*** This week: we're in Portland, Oregon, for the Global Marijuana March, and we hear from Russ Belville, Lindsay Rinehart, Bettie Retro, Erin Purchase and her daughter brave Mykala, and Kaliko Castille, plus we talk with LEAP's Neill Franklin about Baltimore and the death of Freddie Gray.

Audio file


MAY 3, 2015


DEAN BECKER: The failure of drug war is glaringly obvious to judges, cops, wardens, prosecutors, and millions more now calling for decriminalization. Legalization. The end of prohibition. Let us investigate the Century Of Lies.

DOUG MCVAY: Hello and welcome to Century of Lies. I'm your host, Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. Century of Lies is a production of the Drug Truth Network for the Pacifica Foundation Radio Network and is supported by the generosity of the James A. Baker III Institute for Public Policy and of listeners like you. And now, on with the show.

Well folks, today we're going to be doing a little something different. We're going to be listening to some of the Global Marijuana March, happening here in Portland, Oregon. Of course in Oregon we're looking at the medical marijuana program, major changes that are going to be happening. In addition we have an adult use program. The rules are still being set, and before the rules can even be set, the state legislature is making changes to the law, which was passed by the voters 57 percent in favor. The question is, did the voters really insist that they wanted that exact law, or did they say, we want changes and this one's good enough and we'll rely on the legislature to fix anything that might need fixing.

Oregon is a place where marijuana laws are a major thing, and although it does feel a little odd, in a time of racial inequities and finally addressing some of those inequities, that we'll be talking about weed. On the other hand, it's the most widely used of all of the illegal drugs, the marijuana legalization movement is huge and growing, and it's a major force within drug policy reform. So before we start with the global marijuana march, here's a few words from my friend Neill Franklin, he's the executive director of Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. Earlier this week, I had the opportunity to interview him briefly about the events going on in Baltimore around the Freddie Gray death, and the possible -- well, now it looks like they have indicted 6 Baltimore police officers for murder and manslaughter charges. There were a lot of riots going on earlier this week, and the systemic problems within Baltimore were really the cause. I'll let Neill explain that to you.

NEILL FRANKLIN: Well, people think it's from this one single event, involving the death of Freddie Gray, but it's not. We're talking about decades of similar events here in Baltimore city, unfortunately at the hands of police who, who don't know the importance of doing things right, or maybe they do know, they just don't care. And it's only a few of them, but it's enough to cause the problems that we see -- not just here in Baltimore, but in every major city across this country. And it's only -- it was only a matter of time before this thing bubbled over, and now it has, and now we're dealing with the aftermath, and until we deal with the systemic issues of what's occurring, regarding the racial disparities within our criminal justice system, you know, the disparity issues that we have among class in our criminal justice system, the amount of people that we imprison for nonviolent drug offenses, our drug laws that are counterproductive to public safety as well as policies that never, ever worked, unless your goal was to fill up prisons.

Until we get down and start digging out the root, the roots of these systemic issues, we will be here next year, we will be here five years from now, and another decade from now, so I'm hoping that this literally is the moment that we had the conversations that need to be had and solve the issues and problems that we need to solve. It's going to take a lot, it's going to take a long time to do it. Drug policy is not the panacea, but I'm going to tell you something, Doug, it is the main leg, one of the main legs of this three-legged stool.

DOUG MCVAY: That was Neill Franklin, the executive director of LEAP, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. You can find their website and more about what they're doing at LEAP.CC, that's LEAP.cc. I'm Doug McVay, editor of Drug War Facts, and you are listening to Century Of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network. Now, let's get to that Global Marijuana March, happening in Portland, Oregon.

Here at Pioneer Square for the Global Marijuana March Portland edition. It is going to be happening in just a little bit. I've stopped by the Portland NORML booth to talk to my good friend Russ Belville, head of Portland NORML, he's also behind 420Radio.org and a bunch of other things. Russ, looks like you're going to have a good day for it today.

RUSS BELVILLE: Yeah, the sun is coming out, looks like it's going to be good weather, and for the first time this year we're marching at 4 rather than noon, thinking we can build a bigger crowd to get out there on the streets and celebrate our legalization right at 4:20.

DOUG MCVAY: Very good. Now, you said this was your tenth year doing, uh, doing this event?

RUSS BELVILLE: Yeah. I encourage everyone to get involved in events like these. It was ten years ago, May 7 2005, when I came to my first Global Marijuana March. It was there I met Madeline Martinez and Anna Diaz from Oregon NORML, and bam, just jumped headfirst right into activism. I wouldn't be where I am today without the Global Marijuana March.

DOUG MCVAY: Right on. Now, Portland NORML of course is working on some of the issues going on at the state legislature. You've got the Measure 91 committee that's looking at the legalization implementation, but they're also looking at revising some of the provisions of the medical marijuana law. Real quick, what's happening down there and what's Portland NORML, what's Portland NORML's thoughts about some of these changes?

RUSS BELVILLE: Well, it's unfortunate that we voted here in the city of Portland 71 percent for a measure that said it would not effect the Oregon medical marijuana program in any way, and yet the legislature feels compelled to effect the medical marijuana program in many ways. And, we -- there's some good changes they've got proposed, there's some pretty bad changes they've got proposed. We've been mobilizing our membership to contact their legislators, especially on that Measure 91 joint committee, to express our displeasure with some of the more odious provisions, like the record-keeping and the lower plant counts for medical marijuana growers.

DOUG MCVAY: Right on. Now especially these would be, you're thinking about some of the smaller growers, too. I mean, obviously, large-scale with thousands of plants would be another thing -- but, then again, the way we have things set up, it's -- for the benefit of the listeners who don't know, the, go over what, the current limits for a medical grower here.

RUSS BELVILLE: Yeah, currently in the state of Oregon, if you're a medically designated grower, you can grow six plants per patient that you're caring for, and you can care for up to four patients as a grower. So, that would be a limit of 24 mature plants. The legislature's talking about no longer caring about immature plants, which is great because who cares how many non-drug house plants you have in the house, but reducing us down to 12 is one of the proposals for those growers in city limits, which seems a little harsh considering that, if someone's currently growing for four patients, which two patients do they say no longer get the assistance?

The other thing that we're considering here is the record-keeping requirements that they're going to require of some of these growers. And it seems odd to me that you'd want to take someone who's been donating their time and effort for years to care for one or two people and then expect them to become accountants and bookkeepers, and go through all the bureaucratic rigamarole for something that was intended to be person-to-person altruistic caregiving. It seems a little harsh.

DOUG MCVAY: Right on. I know you've got to get back to setting up your booth, but anything else you want to add? And where can people find you on the web?

RUSS BELVILLE: Yeah, check us out at PortlandNORML.org or Portland NORML on Facebook and Instagram, and Twitter as well. We are free for anyone who wishes to join by giving us their email address, if you'd like to be a paid member it's $35, you get a free pin, some discounts at our store for t-shirts and all that good stuff. And, you can check me out at radicalruss.com and online at 420radio.org.

DOUG MCVAY: Fantastic. Russ Belville at Portland NORML, 420 dot org, thank you so much.

RUSS BELVILLE: Thank you very much.

BRAVE MYKALA: Hi. My name is Brave Mykala, and I kicked cancer's butt. With the help of cannabis oil, I have finished treatments six months ago. Thank you all for the love and support. Peace, love, cure.

ERIN PURCHASE: Hi. Thank you so much for being here today. My name is Erin Purchase, and I am Mykala's mom. I am also a cannabis activist. I've been an activist long before she got cancer, that's how I knew to give her cannabis oil ten days after she was diagnosed. I think it's important that all patients get this oil right when they are diagnosed, because we never even lost, she never even lost a single pound going through chemotherapy, never had to take a tylenol, and had a smile on her face every day. I think it's important that every child and adult have that right, and in order to do that we have to get our doctors on board.

And in order to do that, we need to change the law at a federal level. Congratulations Oregon, for legalizing at a state level, that's great. If we can get more states to do that, maybe we can overturn federal law. It is very, very, very important to my family that we overturn this federal law and research is begun. Mykala has a very rare form of acute lymphoblastic leukemia. It has a low survival rate, 75 percent. I didn't have to worry about that because I had cannabis oil.

Most families don't have that, and they have a lot of anxiety as they're going through treatment. Not only do they have a lot of anxiety, they're dealing with a child who's suffering, with a feeding tube in their nose, and they have to stay in the hospital sometimes over a year. We had 14 days in a hospital and the only reason my daughter ever had to stay in a hospital was because they gave her, forced me to give her drugs that put her there. She had two allergic reactions, one of them almost killed her because of their medicine that she did not need. In order to prove that she did not need it, we have to change the federal law.

Also, at county level and a local level, you are all very important, because Oregon has legalized cannabis but they have also imposed a lot of regulations that effect patients like Mykala. They have limited our medical marijuana grows. Now, inside city limits, to 12 plants. That's two patients. We went from able to grow from four patients to two. They have not passed that bill yet but they're very close to passing it.

Come to Salem, where they're Mondays and Wednesdays right now at 5pm, we need your help, we need your support, we need you to tell them we don't want to change things like this. Another thing you can do is, go to your county and city commissioner meetings. I have been to Clackamas County Commissioner meetings every single month, and I'll tell you what. As you guys are rushing out finding warehouses, they are imposing regulations to zone you out. Get to your county commissioner meetings, stop looking for a warehouse, stop looking for commercial properties, and get to your legislators and your representatives and start talking to them about what you want to do. Not only what you want to do for the marijuana industry, but what you want to do for our community. Because if you don't support your community, they're not going to support you.

Please support your community. Get out there, make a difference. Present yourself appropriately and support this plant and let's get somewhere, because I don't want kids to suffer and I just proved that they don't have to. She's done. She's in remission. She's alive. More people need to know this. More doctors need to support this, more politicians need to be on our side. Let's support the other industries, the other movements, the other civil rights movements. It will help our industry make it further.

I want to say thank you so much to Stoney Girl Gardens. I'm now working with them, they're giving me the opportunity to speak on your behalf. We, uh, they also made the oil that saved my daughter's life, and for that, I can't thank them enough. So, thank you Jen and Mike Mullins, Jennifer Valley and Mike Mullins and Stoney Girl Gardens, you guys mean the world to me. Thank you.

URB THRASHER: All right, yeah, that's awesome right there. Thank you so much, Erin Purchase and Brave Mykala. And those of you who don't know you can find out more about Brave Mykala. I happen to have the web address right here on my wrist: WWW.BRAVEMYKALA.COM, so those of you guys out there who have been in our community, I know you're familiar with Brave Mykala, but those of you who are not, please check up on her story because it is amazing and she has been a leader for quite a while now.

DOUG MCVAY: And it's on. This is Doug McVay at the Global Marijuana March. I'm talking to Urb Thrasher, who's MCing the day's events. Looks like you've got a good day for your march, man.

URB THRASHER: Oh, man, we couldn't ask for a better day, not going to be too hot, not going to be too cold, and got a lot of smiles going on today, celebrating freedom.

DOUG MCVAY: Oh indeed. Now a lot of your, a lot of speakers of course are talking about not just the history and the rest. We've got legal, but there's a lot going on in the legislature. What, tell me about some of the other people you've got coming up, and some of the stuff we're going to be talking about.

URB THRASHER: Yeah, as you mentioned, we went out and voted November 4th, the people who went through the initiative process, and we got legalization on the ballot through Measure 91, and we voted yes, and we got it passed, but we just are not getting it implemented the way the people voted for. And so, we're having to fight all through the legislature, and through the OLCC, just to get what we voted for passed. And throughout the day today we're going to have Russ Belville, who's with Portland NORML and 420Radio, and Madeline Martinez who's with the World Famous Cannabis Cafe and legalizing NORML, and just everyone. We've got Paul Stanford, we've got Paul Loney, who actually helped us out with the sound, so we've got a lot of great speakers. We're going to be marching at 4pm today, and we're going have about a 40 minute march, and come back here and kind of celebrate and enjoy ourselves.

DOUG MCVAY: That's fantastic. And, now, do you do this on an ongoing, are these, the Global Marijuana March -- where can people find out more after the event so they can check out some of the other cities and the like.

URB THRASHER: Yeah, that's a great question, and the Global Cannabis March has been going on since the late 90s, and it's been going on throughout many many cities throughout the world, not just the country, the world. Today, many cities, about 250 are, at least in our country, are celebrating, so it's been going on for, this is I think '99 was the first Portland cannabis march. The Global Cannabis March started around 2005, and we've just been kind of celebrating here. This is here at Pioneer Square, been going on the whole time. It's a great venue for us, and we love our downtown Portland.

DOUG MCVAY: That's fantastic. You know, the first one I went to was back when Dana was doing May, the May Day Pot Parade, and yeah, you're doing him proud, man, you're doing him proud.

URB THRASHER: Absolutely. Dana Beal, great activist. He's been a leader for so long, and we appreciate many like him. Jack Herer, and Eddy Lepp, and Dana Beal, and just so many great activists within our community.

DOUG MCVAY: All right. Any closing thoughts for the listeners?

URB THRASHER: Well, you know, just get out there and support our system, because as other activists you're going to hear throughout the day, this isn't just a marijuana issue anymore, this is kind of our voting issue. We are a country of free voting democracy, and if we can't even vote and get what we voted for passed, then I'm not sure where we can go from here.

DOUG MCVAY: Fantastic. Urb Thrasher, thank you so much.

URB THRASHER: Thank you so much, brother, take care, man.

DOUG MCVAY: Thank you. Doug McVay with the Drug Truth Network.

This is Doug McVay, I'm here at the Global Marijuana March talking to Lindsey Rinehart, she's an activist and involved in a lot of the medical side. Lindsey, looks like you've got a great day for the march today.

LINDSEY RINEHART: It's absolutely gorgeous out here for it, isn't it. I'm really excited.

DOUG MCVAY: Now, you've been here in Oregon for the last, just the last few years, right? Coming out of Idaho.

LINDSEY RINEHART: A year and a half, about a year and a half now. This is my, I've been in Portland for a full year now, and I've been in Oregon for about a year and a half.

DOUG MCVAY: Right on. Now, for the benefit of listeners who don't know your story, could you tell us a little about why you came out here.

LINDSEY RINEHART: Sure. I was the chief petitioner in Idaho to legalize medical marijuana for about three and a half years, and the state of Idaho rained hellfire on my family and raided my house while I was gone on vacation and stole my children. So we got my children back, packed up our house, and moved to Oregon for safe access to medicine.

DOUG MCVAY: Now, you're not the only family who's had awful experiences with some of the different child protection services over medical pot. Could you speak to that for just a moment?

LINDSEY RINEHART: Sure. In states where there's still strong prohibition, it's a really effective way to destroy an activist or put them down, and keep you from fighting for what you believe in. In a lot of states, the presence of cannabis or the presence of paraphernalia is enough to automatically dictate neglect, and so that's the benefit, that's the way that they come in, is that they say that want to know, that you're neglecting your children because you had those things in your home, regardless of how good of a parent you might actually be. And then they come in and they take the child. And so, it creates a lot of rifts, it's really horrible for the children. The state gets a lot of money for the kids, and it works out horribly. So, we had to come.

There's another case active right now, if people want to look up Shona Banda. She's got a GoFundMe up, she's raised over $40,000 because her child was just stolen, because he spoke up in DARE education in Kansas. Right next to Colorado, she lives 70 miles from Colorado. They came in, they raided her home, and stole her children. You know, it happens all the time, it's a very uncomfortable subject, nobody wants to talk about it, but the reality is in prohibitive states, we have to talk about it.

DOUG MCVAY: And if you're a patient, if you're in the middle of some kind of treatment, I mean when I, when I was going through my cancer treatment 10, 11 years ago, I was living in Virginia which was very much not a legal medical marijuana state, but if it weren't for medical pot, I would never have made it. So, the notion of uprooting to go across the country to a place where it is legal, when you're already in that kind of position, I mean, that's, well that's just outrageous.

LINDSEY RINEHART: We founded the UnderGreen Railroad to move patients from non-medical states to medical states if they're facing persecution or CPS, and there's a child involved. So if there's a sick child that needs to leave a non-medical state for a medical state, UnderGreen Railroad is an avenue that some families have chosen to use to go ahead and leave. My neighbor will be here soon, she just moved here from Florida. She's got leukemia, actively has leukemia, and was facing persecution there. So, she packed up her whole family and they came all the way to Oregon for safe access to medicine. It happens every day, I mean it's actually pretty cool in a way, for people to obtain that safe access that they came all this way for, but it's heartbreaking at the same time to uproot everything you know and love so that you can go have safe access to a medicine where you should have just had safe access in your own home.

DOUG MCVAY: You know, especially when you're in the middle of the treatment for it, I mean, it's just an outrageous. And leukemia, people should know that Florida does have a limited medical marijuana law, but that a leukemia patient can't get access -- again, it's just an outrage.

LINDSEY RINEHART: They gave her Alleve! They gave her Alleve for the pain, and then they gave her chemo for the cancer, and that was all they were going to do for her. She would have died. You know, if the chemo wouldn't have killed her, the cancer would have. Here, she's on two grams of oil a day and here white blood cell count is going down [sic] dramatically, every time she goes back to the doctor. So, it's frustrating in a way because, you know, you have to uproot and leave, but if you put in your time and you have fought for your state and you have really tried to change the law there and it's still just isn't working out, you know, sometimes you do have to stick to your convictions.

And if you're a patient, I mean, they stole my medicine the same day they stole my kids. So, I went into a horrible remission, I had been -- uh, a relapse, I had been in remission for two and a half years when they stole the kids. So, when they stole the kids they stole the medicine, then I went into a horrible relapse for about four months until I got to Oregon. As soon as I got to Oregon I started using medicine again, and within a week I was back to normal. A week! So, I mean, it's like a light switch. If I have cannabis, the MS goes off. If I don't have cannabis, the MS is on. You know? So, for our family, this was the right decision.

DOUG MCVAY: Right on. Now, to find out more about Underground -- UnderGreen Railroad, rather, and some of the different parents groups I know that you're working with, where can they find stuff on the web?

LINDSEY RINEHART: So, right now we've had a little bit of a hiccup with our website so pardon us. We're on facebook, we're on twitter, we're on instagram. UnderGreen Railroad is really good organization, International Women's Cannabis Coalition is another excellent organization, and Parents4Pot is another really good organization. So I would encourage people to look up any of those and really get involved.

DOUG MCVAY: All right, Lindsey, thank you so much. Have a great time today.

LINDSEY RINEHART: You too. Thank you.

DOUG MCVAY: This is Doug McVay, I'm reporting live from Portland, Oregon, at the Global Marijuana March. You're listening to Century Of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network, online at drugtruth.net.

Here at the Global Marijuana March, talking with Kaliko Castille. You are an activist, used to be a student, and now you're out here in the real world. Yeah. Tell me some of the stuff you've got going on, and yeah, tell me some of the stuff you've got going on.

KALIKO CASTILLE: Oh yeah, I appreciate it, man. I'm out here today with Portland NORML, I'm actually acting as communications director for Portland NORML. We're basically kind of setting ourselves up to speak on behalf of the consumers and the pot-smokers here who voted for Measure 91, obviously overwhelmingly, so we want to make sure that their voices are being heard now that the rules and regulations are being worked out in Salem, now that you have retailers and processors and growers down there, having their voices heard, we want to make sure the marijuana smokers are being listened to, so, I'm out here today supporting that. I'm also working for The Weed Blog, you know, just been kind of selling ads and doing a lot of marketing stuff for them. So, it's been fun moving from the student activism side and now getting into, it's becoming a real industry and actually having real jobs, it's a trip.

DOUG MCVAY: Now, did you think, when you were a student activist, that you might end up actually doing this kind of thing for a living, or was that just kind of a -- I mean, how did that happen?

KALIKO CASTILLE: No, I mean, I definitely did this as a volunteer effort, it was something that like, it was out of passion and out of a sense of justice and out of a sense of seeing my grandparents smoke weed and realizing that suddenly they were considered criminals, and I thought that was crazy. Like, my parents -- my grandparents are the most law-abiding and hard-working people I've ever met, and to think that at night, when they were smoking a joint watching a movie together, that they were suddenly criminals, that was mind-blowing to me. So this has always kind of been an activism thing.

But now that it's becoming an industry, I definitely see that as the new realm of activism, that's the next level, the natural progression. Now that we have an industry, people who are on the front lines, be it dispensary owners, growers, processors, they're really being the ones that have to jump through the first hoops that are being laid, so those guys are really being activists, you know. Hopefully, I would hope that a lot of them are making sure that some of those profits are going back to nonprofit organizations that have helped lay this groundwork, but I definitely think that there's a lot of -- a lot of things to be said about the fact that, now that there's an industry that's a new form of activism.

DOUG MCVAY: That's fantastic. Any other words for my listeners?

KALIKO CASTILLE: No, I appreciate your work, and thank you so much for being down here, and I hope everybody will check out PortlandNORML.org, we're looking for memberships and we definitely want to make sure that this is one of the more active member chapter organizations in the country, so --

DOUG MCVAY: Fantastic. Kaliko Castille, thank you so much.

KALIKO CASTILLE: Thank you, Doug, appreciate it.

DOUG MCVAY: This is Doug McVay, I'm at the Global Marijuana March, I'm speaking with Bettie Retro. Bettie, tell me something about some of the work that you do.

BETTIE RETRO: Well, I've been working actively with Parents4Pot and International Cannabis Coalition, so I'm really happy for the work that we're doing with these groups. Parents4Pot has been working to break down the stigma that is effecting families across the nation because of the war on drugs. We've been actively raising money to start toys for tots campaigns to help them through the holidays, for families that have been broken apart, dads in prison, or they have extra medical bills, different things that have been impacted by the prohibition that we're facing.

DOUG MCVAY: Right on. Now, so, families broken up, but you're also -- do you also work with any of the medical cannabis patients who are having issues in child protection services?

BETTIE RETRO: Yes, we try to be a full outreach program. We just listen to the need that is out there in our community because we are families, we are part of the community ourselves, and it's about a community coming together to make a better future for our children.

DOUG MCVAY: Terrific. It's going to be a great day for the march, I can see, this will be going on for a little while, and then the parade starts. How many years have you been doing this?

BETTIE RETRO: I've been doing this for about four years, since my son was born. It was just a kick in the pants to get up and make the world a better place.

DOUG MCVAY: That's terrific. What else do you want to tell the listeners?

BETTIE RETRO: Just find your voice and get involved, whether you do it with an organization like Parents4Pot or International Women's Cannabis Coalition, there are lots of groups who can help you find a way to make your voice heard, just find your voice and share with the world, it needs to be shared.

DOUG MCVAY: Terrific. And Bettie, where can people find out more about what you're doing?

BETTIE RETRO: Well, you can find Parents4Pot.org, it's a great resource, we're also active on facebook with both of my groups, you can find us both there. Facebook.com/IWCC or Facebook.com/Parents4Pot.

DOUG MCVAY: Terrific. Bettie, thank you so much.

BETTIE RETRO: Absolutely, you're welcome. Thanks for talking with me.

DOUG MCVAY: This is Doug McVay, with the Drug Truth Network. And that's all the time we have this week. Thank you for listening. This is Century Of Lies, a production of the Drug Truth Network. I'm your host Doug McVay, editor of DrugWarFacts.org. Century Of Lies is heard on 420Radio.org on Mondays at 11am and 11pm, and Saturdays at 4am, all times are pacific. We're heard on time4hemp.com on Wednesdays between 1 and 2pm pacific along with our sister program Cultural Baggage. And we're on The Detour Talk Network at thedetour.us on Tuesdays at 8:30pm.

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