08/21/19 John Baucum

Cultural Baggage Radio Show
John Baucum

John Baucum President of Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition re Labor day weekend cannabis conference in Texas, Maggie Volpo of Ladybud.org re confining control by corporate cannabis + Okla Dispensary Kidnapping, UK opioid report via ITV & Philadelphia attempts to set up safe injection site

Audio file


AUGUST 21, 2019


DEAN BECKER: Hello, my friends, thank you for being with us on this edition of Cultural Baggage. I'm your host, Dean Becker, the Reverend Most High. Lots to get to, let's get to it.

All right. All around the country, there are folks that are trying to educate one another, trying to educate the politicians, to the truth about cannabis, marijuana, hemp, the green ganja stuff, and we're going to have one such event here in the state of Texas, Labor Day weekend I think it is.

One of the speakers is with me now. He can fill us in on some of the details, Mister John Baucum. How are you, sir?

JOHN BAUCUM: Hey, Dean, I'm doing great. Thanks for having me on.

DEAN BECKER: Thank you, John. You're going to be one of the speakers. What are you going to bring to this conference, your thoughts?

JOHN BAUCUM: Yeah, so I'll actually be speaking on a panel about should Texas legalize cannabis. So that should be an exciting panel, and there's a lot of opinions on that. Obviously I think most of us would agree that it should. How long and what it will take to get there I think is another question. It will be interesting to see what the panel has to discuss and, you know, maybe some unique perspectives from the audience as well.

DEAN BECKER: Now, where's this going to be?

JOHN BAUCUM: Yeah, so, Texas Marijuana Policy Conference is going to be in Austin over Labor Day weekend. That's August Thirtieth through September First at the Sheraton Capitol Hotel, downtown Austin, so a three-day policy conference covering everything from the decriminalization legalization aspect, medical cannabis and hemp, regulatory entrepreneurship sessions.

Yeah, and a lot of other insightful tips and topics and things that individuals on a multitude of panels will be discussing including faith and cannabis, individuals who are helping their families and children by being caregivers, other folks who are into looking getting into the blossoming industry of CBD and hemp products in Texas as well as moving down the road where we have full legalization and getting into the legal cannabis market as well.

DEAN BECKER: Well, one of the things I hope to be doing, perhaps this year, certainly early next year, is starting to sell Becker's Buds. I want to sell hemp cigarettes at a reasonable price, and with the idea that a portion of it will go to support the Drug Truth Network as well as my home base, the radio station I work for, KPFT, so that -- help us stay on air, help me keep rolling and getting additional interviews.

Now, John, tell us some of the folks that will be there, some of the other speakers that will attend.

JOHN BAUCUM: Yeah, well, one here that's local, Harris County District Attorney Kim Ogg will be in town. She's going to be there at the conference discussing her diversion program in Harris County and the successfulness [sic] of that program and how we hope to see that modeled throughout the state.

So, until the legislature really acts to change the law, we put a lot of effort and weight into our county district attorneys to set certain policies within their regions, and then their jurisdiction, to potentially have better appropriation of their criminal justice resources and maybe not lock so many people up for simple marijuana possession.

And we've seen a resounding success of that program here in Texas.

DEAN BECKER: If I might interject this thought, I've worked very directly with Kim over the years.

She told me that I was instrumental, what did she say, the pioneer in making the misdemeanor marijuana diversion program possible, and, as I understand, she's now come out with a new attitude, perspective, oversight, whatever, for juveniles that are caught with marijuana, that she's going to give them a situation kind of like what she gives to the adults, where they won't have a record, they can kind of do away with that black mark.

Your thought there please, John Baucum.

JOHN BAUCUM: Yeah, well, as we all know, you know, even a class B conviction can follow you around for the rest of your life, affect your employment, financial aid for school, housing, and all other kinds of opportunities.

So I think helping these children who, not necessarily condoning adolescent cannabis use, but helping them make sure that they're making wise decisions and also not criminalizing them, that may have detrimental effects that follow them around for the rest of their life.

DEAN BECKER: Well, now, in that I won't be able to attend this conference, I'm really thrilled that Kim Ogg will be there, because I think she'll carry a lot of weight and force and impetus to move more boldly towards progress. Who else will be attending?

JOHN BAUCUM: We also have Doctor Sue Sisley, so she's an expert in cannabis research, currently doing one of the, I think the only federally approved study of cannabis and PTSD in veterans.

So she's actually made some arguments to the US government that the cannabis that she's allowed to use for research purposes is not appropriate and not proper when there are so many other strains and variables and other components of the plant which, even as our scientific community doesn't fully understand, you know, she shouldn't -- really shouldn't be hamstrung from her research by having to use an inferior product that is federally approved.

DEAN BECKER: Thought I'd like to throw in on that one is, I have seen the government grown weed from the University of Mississippi, it is very inferior. It's got seeds, it was never cured right, it's -- it's not the quality that she needs to work with, I'll say that. Go ahead with the other speakers, John.

JOHN BAUCUM: Also check out all of our speakers and other information about the conference including a registration link at TexasMarijuanaPolicyConference.org.

Some of the other speakers, we're going to have a panel on the Texas Compassionate Use Program. We have Chase Bearden with the Coalition of Texans with Disabilities, as well as Mister John Pitts with the Texas Star Alliance.

So, Chase was instrumental in being a patient advocate and getting many other disabled Texans to advocate to the legislature to make at least incremental reforms to the Texas Compassionate Use Program, which we did receive, as well as John Pitts, who has worked with some of the license holders and other interested parties to navigate the nuances of the regulatory program as well as the changes through the legislature.

So that should be exciting to see how the changes from TCUP will be rolled out, and where we might see TCUP expansion into the future.

One other person that I want to mention from a law enforcement perspective, we actually have Shannon Edmonds, who is with the Texas District Attorney and County Attorneys Association, and has typically been one that has stood in the way of reforms, although I think, you know, his association may be coming more open to better prioritization of law enforcement resources again, looking at where they can use their dollars most effectively.

And, also, you know, let's see what other kind of issues that we have with veterans' health, Second Amendment issues, we'll have Rachel Malone from Gun Owners of America as well as David Bass with Texas NORML talking about his veteran outreach and their activism at the capitol, which I think has been one of the most effective resources that we have.

I think the two groups that have really moved the ball the most are veterans and then also our mothers advocating for their children that are suffering from debilitating conditions, and they know that they can be helped with cannabis and I think that has definitely made the legislature more compassionate.

There are obviously still many more eyes that we need to open, we also need to understand and explain the science more articulately to these folks who maybe don't understand it as well, so they'll know what cannabis is, how it can be used in many different ways, in many different combinations of cannabinoids, as a true medicine to really improve the quality of life for Texans.

DEAN BECKER: I want to come back to our discussion about Kim Ogg, the district attorney of Houston, Harris County. You know, she's stood boldly for change. She has come on my show and basically declared the drug war to be, what was her word, illogical, to sum it up, that it makes no sense whatsoever.

She said we're cutting off our nose to spite our face through embracing this idea of eternal drug war. But, I want to talk about a couple of situations that are still unfolding, still being analyzed, determined, cogitated, whatever, by the district attorneys, which for the most part are being led by Kim Ogg.

That is the fact that this hemp that's now on the market, you can't tell hemp from marijuana, they look and smell identical in many ways, there is no way to do that onsite analysis, determination, whether it has more or less THC.

And, there's a lot of discussion about, they're just not going to arrest people for small amounts of marijuana and or hemp, that they're just going to take it, wait for a later magical date when perhaps they can analyze it.

Now, this brings to mind a couple of things. One, if it's marijuana, okeh, eventually maybe they can charge you with it, but if it's hemp, then they just stole your legal product and held it in abeyance, and, that's going to be hashed out, but I guess what I'm wanting to talk, or ask you to do, is bring that subject up at this conference, to, you know, keep that thought around. How are we going to handle that situation moving forward. Your response there, John.

JOHN BAUCUM: Yeah, well, I think it is an interesting question. You know, we already had quite a gray area even with legal quote unquote legal hemp products or CBD products that were low in THC before this past legislative session, because technically the only legal CBD oil or any other kind of oil was through the Texas Compassionate Use Registry.

And now we're seeing where we do have a legal CBD market and exactly like you said because they didn't listen when other people like our organization, Texans for Responsible Marijuana Policy, mentioned the ability to have patients allowed for a third party testing, where we could take a product to a third party lab, find out the cannabinoid profile, how much THC it has, how much CBD does it have.

Now there are literally no states -- no labs in the state that can perform this type of analysis or at least that will do it on behalf of law enforcement, and so it really has created, you know, I don't want to call it a de facto decriminalization because there are groups like the Texas Rangers who have said that they will, or, not the Texas Rangers, sorry, the Department of Public Safety, who has said that they will take possession.

They might not arrest that individual at that time, but they will file charges and they could prosecute them at a later date, when they are able to successfully test the product.

So, it's a huge problem. I also see a huge problem that we have in Texas, speaking of these types of oils or concentrates and edibles and candies and things, is the disproportionality of our laws that treat cannabis in its flower form versus cannabis in any other type of concentrated form, which is a felony, so you have potentially a small vial of oil, any type of tincture, gummie bears, other edibles, chocolates, which are all potentially facing now felony prosecution for Texans.

So this might curb that a little bit, in that they can't test those substances immediately to know if they are over this threshold of THC, but certainly we will be at that point sometime so we still need to change the law, and, you know, do that first, and then we can also still encourage for independent third party testing as well.

DEAN BECKER: There's an example, I've had a couple of attorneys tell me to look for these examples that would best illustrate the fallacy, the, I don't know, the wrongheadedness of this new approach, to take whatever and assume it's cannabis.

There's a gentleman in San Antonio, he's 26 years old, he just got busted with a CBD -- he got caught with a vaporizer cartridge. He was pulled over by a San Antonio cop, he said you got anything in there I should know about? And the gentleman handed him that and said this is CBD, nothing to worry about, officer.

The officer then proceeded to arrest him, and he's been charged now with felony possession. But it's also in abeyance until some magical day when they can analyze it, but it's a classic example of what you're talking about, these concentrates, the edibles, et cetera, that may have some portion of cannabis in it, but if nobody knows what particular portion or percentages and whatever, then it's just guessing. And that's not justice, is it?

JOHN BAUCUM: It's not, and previously, you know, all they had to do is prove the presence of cannabinoids, and they could try to do that with a strip of paper or other types of field tests, and -- and then successfully, you know, say yes, this is some form of cannabis, whether it's low THC hemp or, you know, higher THC cannabis as well, and either way they would arrest that person and take him to jail.

Now with the gray area, you know, you would think that the deference would be to the citizen, to not arrest them, and to allow them the presumption of innocence, but it seems like maybe we're seeing some of that turned on its head and from the opposite approach, where they're saying, well, this could be high THC cannabis. We're going to arrest them, seize their property.

You put a person in jail, now they have to face getting bonded out and all these other challenges that come along. And even if they do delay the prosecution, you still have the potential of felony charges hanging over your head all this time, and it can affect you in a number of ways, including psychologically, and then other aspects that they might have to do that could affect their employment and education and other things as well.

DEAN BECKER: Well, I'll tell you what, you know, John, there are so many aspects, so many areas of concern and focus that need to be dealt with in the coming years, here, and hopefully this conference will begin to bring some focus to bear, begin to, you know, align things more properly. Closing thoughts about this conference, Mister John Baucum.

JOHN BAUCUM: Yeah, I think you're right, and I think that's a great point to end on, you know, the conference will also focus on leadership training and grassroots activism, so as you mentioned, there are so many facilities of this issue, whether you want to get into the business side, the regulatory side, as a patient or caregiver, as an individual who just wants to invest in cannabis, there are so many different areas of interest.

So I think this policy conference will do a great job of breaking all policies down into different groups, having many focused panels and breakout sessions on each of those different strategies, and then what I always like to tell other individuals and some of the other organizations that I've been a part of is, what's your passion? What brought you here to this meeting?

And then let's plug them in with like-minded individuals and build that coalition so that we're all moving the ball forward. We may not all be working on the exact same issue at the same time, but we're all in this together as one big team, and each of us pushing the ball forward in our incremental areas, you know, is going to help the overall coalition as well reach our goals, fully ending marijuana prohibition in Texas.

Again, the policy conference is Labor Day weekend in Austin, Texas, and you can find out more information at TexasMarijuanaPolicyConference.org.

DEAN BECKER: Once again that was John Baucum. He's president of the national group, Republicans Against Marijuana Prohibition. They're out there on the web at RAMPGOP.org.

It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Nausea, heartburn, development of bleeding ulcers, vomiting, swelling of the brain, extensive liver damage, difficulty with mental functioning, Reye's Syndrome, and death. Time's up! The answer: aspirin, another FDA approved product.

Recently, I became aware of an article on LadyBud.com. It was titled up Just Say No To Corporate Cannabis, and in reading through it I was astounded, impressed, actually, with the content and the perspective contained therein, and we have with us the author of this great piece, Maggie Volpo. Hello, Maggie.

MAGGIE VOLPO: Hi Dean, nice to talk to you.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, Maggie, the truth is, there's a lot of progress being made, states all around the country legalizing, Canada legalized, or nearly so from my perspective, but we have to be aware and, I don't know, kind of quash some of the efforts of the corporate cannabis players out there, do we not?

MAGGIE VOLPO: You know, it is a really slippery slope, in a way, because we want those big money backers when you're trying to pass legislation, but at the same time some of those people are only looking to line their own pockets and aren't really looking at the social impact that legalization could have if it's done properly.

DEAN BECKER: Right, and, you know, from my perspective, I always talk about incrementalism is a killer, that, you know, to stair step your progress, so to speak, still leaves all kinds of complications and horrors in its path. And the same can be said --

MAGGIE VOLPO: Absolutely.

DEAN BECKER: -- for corporate cannabis, that if you can't grow it yourself and you've got to depend on a state run store and the profit of these corporations, it's not exactly the legalization we're looking for. Right?

MAGGIE VOLPO: Well, right, exactly. Most people in the cannabis industry have had the corporate mainstream America turn their backs on them, especially people who depend on it for important medicine, for, like, seizures or cancer.

And so then to have those same corporations that were blocking legal access for so long come back, or having some of their shareholders come in through other cannabis companies, and now trying to profit off of cannabis after having profited off of prohibition. It's incredibly unethical.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and we have a situation where, I mentioned earlier, that Canada has legalized.


DEAN BECKER: In doing so, they're major players were able to put their companies on the stock market, and then inflate their wealth, their holdings, and their means to massage the situation. What I'm saying is, they took that money, that largesse, came to the United States and in many cases bought up permits and rights and dispensaries here in the US to make even more profits. Right?

MAGGIE VOLPO: Oh, absolutely. I live in Michigan, so we are absolutely seeing that sort of influence trickle down into our state.

We haven't even really rolled out medical dispensaries from our '08 medical law, and now they're already trying to, like, vet big companies for recreational dispensaries, and most of us are like, well, could we get the medical dispensaries and maybe some local businesses, not just these big corporate ones?

But unfortunately, the ones with the money are the ones that get to kind of set the tone of the dialogue at these things.

DEAN BECKER: Well, and in essence get to bribe the politicians and massage the situation to their benefit. And we have that, as I said, going on all around the country.

My state of Texas right now is going to have a major conference to talk about the, you know, the businesses, the permits, the, how the, oh, I don't know, how the mechanism of legalizing would work in the state, and I'm leery of the big cannabis coming in and just taking over things and taking away the rights of the users. Your thought there please, Maggie.

MAGGIE VOLPO: Well, I mean, usually the first step that the corporations that want to control the market go, the first step the take is going to be trying to get rid of home grows or putting really tight restrictions on your ability to cultivate your own cannabis.

So I would say the best thing to do is to try to, you're already kind of a grassroots organizer, you know, having people show up at town hall meetings and at state senate hearings, to testify about why having a home grow provision is incredibly important to the way that the law gets rolled out, I think is one of the easiest things for people to do.

Or just to call their senator or house of representatives, depending on who's hearing a bill, and let them know where you stand on that specific part of the issue.

DEAN BECKER: Folks, once again we're speaking with Maggie Volpo, she's with LadyBud.com out there on the web. Yeah, I think, Maggie, the one thing that I would like to relay to the folks gathering to talk about marijuana's future in Texas is that they need to stand tall. They need to stand for their rights and not simply accept that these people that are trying to legalize are trying to legalize for their benefit.

It is for corporate profits in many cases, right?

MAGGIE VOLPO: If the law leaves people still vulnerable to prosecution for something as simple as growing one or two plants in their basement or their backyard, then it's not really a very good law, is it?

DEAN BECKER: No. And we had the situation, again, I point back to Canada because people were thrilled with the idea they would be legalizing but there are many people that are now less thrilled, because the product coming out from these big corporations is not of the quality that they have come to expect, that it often has, you know, mold and or other failings, that just shouldn't be allowed. Your thought there, please, Maggie.

MAGGIE VOLPO: Well, I have not had much experience with corporate cannabis except for when I spent a month in California, last June, and I will say that I didn't find molds or bugs in anything, but I did definitely notice that, like, the commercial products that are, like, with corporate labels, available at the dispensaries there were of infinitely lower quality than the stuff that was coming out of shops here in Michigan that were run by small businesses and growers.


MAGGIE VOLPO: And I think that's a trend that you'll see all across the country, that the people who have the big brands aren't as worried about consistency or potency because once you have a following, that's really all you need to kind of build your brand up.

And they become less focused on the dosage, or the reliability for their customers, and more focused on profit margins.

DEAN BECKER: Well, fairly astounding words, there. Folks, we've been speaking with Maggie Volpo, she's with LadyBud.com. They have, I don't know, hundreds, maybe thousands of articles on their website, mostly dealing with cannabis, and I would urge you to check it out, please, that's LadyBud.com

We're going to change our focus from marijuana here in a second but it's important to realize that because of US government policy, marijuana dispensary owners cannot open a bank account, so stuff like this happens.

ERIN BEU: Abigail, a dispensary owner and his wife were followed here to their home where they were held at gunpoint, robbed, and even kidnapped. Now I spoke to them off camera, and they've been at the ER all morning.

OK POLICE SERGEANT GARY KNIGHT: Held them at gunpoint, actually pistolwhipped them, ziptied them.

ERIN BEU: That's how the couple who lives at this house were greeted when they got home last night.

GARY KNIGHT: There were two men that followed them into the residence, forced their way in ...

ERIN BEU: All of this happening at gunpoint.

GARY KNIGHT: Asked them where the -- or, demanded the drugs and money that were in the house.

ERIN BEU: But the dispensary owner kept all of that at his business, which is when this robbery turned into a kidnapping.

GARY KNIGHT: The male victim began to fight back ...

ERIN BEU: Police say he freed himself from the zipties and started fighting with one of the suspects.

GARY KNIGHT: One of the suspects actually tried to shoot the male victim, but during the struggle the magazine fell out of the gun and the gun did not discharge.

ERIN BEU: But the suspects still wanted the marijuana and money at the dispensary.

GARY KNIGHT: The other suspect loaded the female into the car, told her she was going to take them up there to the dispensary.

ERIN BEU: But according to police, that victim was able to jump out of the car and get away, ending up here at this McDonalds.

Both victims have minor injuries, but the suspects got away with guns and cash from their house. In Oklahoma City, Erin Beu, KOCO-Five News.

DEAN BECKER: The following segment comes to us out of the UK, from ITV News.

NEWSREADER: Hello, good evening. Wales has seen a staggering increase in drug deaths over the last ten years. The latest figures were released today and they show an 84 percent increase in people dying as a result of drugs.

REPORTER: Last year, there were more than four thousand deaths from drugs in Wales and England. In Carnarvon, two women are on a mission. Both want to persuade the public to change their attitudes towards drugs.

PAT: May I give you a flyer? I'm a drug-bereaved mother and we're --

REPORTER: Pat lost her son, Amanda lost her nephew. Both to heroin. Now they want drugs legalized.

AMANDA: He was -- he was just regarded as a good egg, really, and a nice person. He was generous, kind, and I think above all very funny. We miss his humor more than anything.

My contribution is that Kevin and many like him were killed as much by the policies, the drug policies at the political and medical and social level, than by the drugs themselves. It's like social cleansing at the moment because the view is that we can afford to lose people who are addicted, that they have nothing to give society.

REPORTER: For decades, this country has been fighting a war on drugs, but the number of people dying in that war is rising. Some say the fighting should be intensified, but others, like Amanda and Pat, say we need a completely new strategy.

These two families want the same things. They want personal use and possession to be decriminalized, and for there to be safe places for users to use their drugs.

If you're going to get the law changed, you're going to have to convince people here in Carnarvon and elsewhere. Do you think you can do that?

AMANDA: Well, I would have probably agreed with that before I lost my nephew, because there's so many stereotypes about people who use hard drugs. I never imagined that we would lose my nephew in that way.

So that is the one lesson I've taken away, that, as it says on my t-shirt, it could be any family. It could be any child.

DEAN BECKER: To close us out, we have this segment from NBC Philadelphia.

LAUREN MAYK: In Toronto, you can't just go one place to understand. Drugs and overdoses aren't concentrated in just on location.

JEREMIAH COOK: My girlfriend does it, all right, so it's like --

LAUREN MAYK: Do you worry about her?

JEREMIAH COOK: I do, I worry about her all the time.

LAUREN MAYK: We meet Jeremiah Cook outside an overdose prevention site at Sherbourne and Dundas. It's closed this evening, but he thinks it should be open 24 hours. Cook tells us, he's seen it save lives. He hangs out here every day.

JEREMIAH COOK: 'Cause they allow us to smoke our crack out in front here.

LAUREN MAYK: He's one side of the story. But just across the street.

JOSE ZAMORA: -- just open up this site, and then, people are coming there to have safe injections, and then that's bad.

LAUREN MAYK: Neighbors like Jose Zamora watching changes as people shift where they use drugs.

What's it been like?

JOSE ZAMORA: Well, I've noticed less disposed needles, like on the streets --

LAUREN MAYK: But also.

JOSE ZAMORA: -- neighbors I live close to the site, and they feel like there could be more, I don't know, community support, or police seen, perhaps, could help.

LAUREN MAYK: Toronto police tell us they to respond to calls near the site, but don't prevent safe use of them.

Our next stop is Toronto's Yonge-Dundas Square, whose flashy screens tower over this city run supervised injection site. Doctor Eileen de Villa is Toronto's Medical Officer of Health.

EILEEN DE VILLA, MD: We've reversed around 800 overdoses. So that's 800 potential deaths that were averted.

LAUREN MAYK: Large mirrors line the wall inside here so workers can see if someone's having trouble, and grab Narcan to help.

But here, too, there's another story on the outside.

CONNOR REMUS: No one ever wants it in their backyard, right? So --

LAUREN MAYK: Connor Remus works at a restaurant close to that site near the square, which is also located near where Remus went to college.

What's the difference between what it was like then and what it's like now?

CONNOR REMUS: You just -- you have security. Like, the way you feel when you walk around there, you know, when you have a lot of people yelling, and you have, you just don't feel as safe.

LAUREN MAYK: On the blocks surrounding the sites, there are businesses, homes, schools.

WOMAN: I'm at a school right now picking up my daughter, and there's one about 500 meters from here.

LAUREN MAYK: Does that make you nervous at all?

WOMAN: It doesn't, actually.

LAUREN MAYK: Where to put them is a question Philadelphia could soon have to tackle, like Toronto did.

JOSE ZAMORA: It's a change for everybody.

LAUREN MAYK: Inside and out. In Toronto, I'm Lauren Mayk, NBC Ten News.

DEAN BECKER: It turns out US Attorney William McSwain opposes the plan, he's an appointee of president Donald Trump, who says it violates federal drug laws. The Safehouse supporters there in Philadelphia include three prominent Democrats in the city, Mayor Jim Kenney, District Attorney Larry Krassner, and former Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell.

The Safehouse founders believe they can reduce overdose deaths by having people use drugs under medical supervision at a site where they can also be offered treatment.

Please visit our website DrugTruth.net, and again I remind you because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag. Please be careful.