12/15/13 Charmie Gholson

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Charmie Gholson of Mich Moms United re CPS abuse of infants whose parents used Med Cannabis, Ray Hill re Xmas day protest at jail, Uruguay legalizes pot & DTN Editorial "Pee Freely"

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Transcript

Cultural Baggage / December 15, 2013

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

“It’s not only inhumane, it is really fundamentally Un-American.”

“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”
“No more! Drug War!” “No more! Drug War!”

DEAN BECKER: My Name is Dean Becker. I don’t condone or encourage the use of any drugs, legal or illegal. I report the unvarnished truth about the pharmaceutical, banking, prison and judicial nightmare that feeds on Eternal Drug War.

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DEAN BECKER: Welcome to this edition of Cultural Baggage. I think we got a great show lined up for you. In just a moment we’re going to bring in a resident of Michigan who has seen the harms of the drug war first hand and how CPS is going after parents of children.

We want to welcome Charmie Gholson. Hello Charmie

CHARMIE GHOLSON: Hi Dean. Thanks for having me on.

DEAN BECKER: I blew that introduction. You go after the CPS that is hassling the parents who might use a little cannabis, correct?

CHARMIE GHOLSON: That’s correct.

DEAN BECKER: Tell us, in general, how you perceive this situation.

CHARMIE GHOLSON: I have good news. Do you want to hear good news?

DEAN BECKER: Let’s go.

CHARMIE GHOLSON: I have good news and bad news.

DEAN BECKER: Let’s start with the good, I guess.

CHARMIE GHOLSON: Let’s start with the good.

Dean, I know that you’ve been working on the failed drug war longer than I have. I know that you have seen this wave of momentum, this wave of progress in reforms that are coming just since Colorado and Washington State legalized.

Likewise I think more and more information is being elevated into mainstream consciousness of how this is a failed public policy and it’s done the opposite of what we want it to do and how it creates the problems that we are trying to fix. More and more people are beginning to grasp that. Just like I really love the opening to your show. You talked about the various things that you report on that feed upon eternal drug war and that’s exactly what the family law court systems do. It builds on and continues the momentum of the drug war even when oftentimes it has nothing to do with drugs.

We’re at a point right now where Child Protective Services is just a money making scheme but they do it with childrens’ lives. I think this is how a lot of people are going to be waking up to the reality that their government is incredibly corrupt because when they start taking our children it doesn’t matter who you are or whether you smoke pot or you’re gay or you don’t vaccinate your kids or you got a dirty house or whatever the ridiculous long list of reasons the state has for coming into your house with guns and taking your children. Trust me now that they’re actually doing this in a very widespread level – all across the country – people are waking up and saying, “If you take our kids we are going to revolt.”

DEAN BECKER: You’re based in Michigan, correct?

CHARMIE GHOLSON: I live in Ann Arbor, Michigan, correct.

DEAN BECKER: Michigan is one of those states that has a type of medical marijuana law.

CHARMIE GHOLSON: We passed our medical marijuana law in 2008 overwhelmingly just like in most places when given the chance people vote for drug policy reform.

It went into effect in 2009. Our act does include protections such as if you are registered with the state and you’ve got these qualifying conditions they can’t arrest you, they shouldn’t prosecute you, no asset forfeiture, you can’t fire us, you shouldn’t kick us out of our housing and you can’t take our kids. Those things are very clear in the law however as you likely know when a state or municipality enacts drug policy reform there is a backlash. You can count on a backlash most of the time.

I’ve been watching and fighting this backlash for the last 5 years. There is a strategy. I’ve actually seen it played out in several states but there is a strategy to undermine medical marijuana acts, to remove the protections provided in the acts.

Here in Michigan medical marijuana patients and caregivers are still being arrested, still being raided by drug task forces. If there is a raid on your house CPS is called right away even if you’re a medical marijuana patient.

What we’ve been doing...On September 13th Bingham County...our state capital is in Bingham County. Bingham County Child Protective Services took a 6-month-old baby, Bree Green, from her parents because the referee said, “You know, somebody might break into the house to try to steal the marijuana. That’s an immediate problem. It’s clear and immediate danger for the infant.”

So they came and took the baby. Yes if you want to gesticulate or wave your hand at how insane that is go ahead. That’s the beautiful thing, Dean, the state and the government acts in such a way that when the reporters finally hit on it they’re confused.

That’s the good news – the reporters and the media in Michigan have caught on to this and they are going after these people. We made sure that there were video cameras there when they came and took Bree. That was a Friday and then on Tuesday I held a press conference outside of DHS and I took many of the men who, as you know, will protect their families...I can’t tell you how many big, hairy, strong guys I’ve held in my arms and cried since we started sending these clips of the state coming and taking babies out of people’s homes.

They all say, “Charmie, if they come to my house and try that someone will die.”

I just tell them, “It’s OK. Momma’s got this.”

I took those guys who were really chopped up and emotional, angry, furious about what this beautiful baby and family had gone through and I had them line the sidewalk outside of the Department of Human Services in Lansing dressed in Veterans regalia if they were veterans. I had them hold the space for us and we lined up women holding hands and singing. We had strollers and pictures of Bree. I brought Tim Gehrach in from LEAP – a former prosecutor who is a LEAP speaker and board member. He had held Bree.

This is a family that formed the Human Solution Michigan Chapter. They provided Cannabis Court Crusaders for folks going to court for marijuana crimes. That baby had been all over the state. Bree has been all over the state. She’s adorable. People love her and that was incredibly helpful. Moving a community like that and being there for the community really paid off for the Green family.

We got so much media on this and the media was confused and kept asking me, “Why are they doing this? Why did they do this?”

They would ask questions like, “Well, Maria have you ever been robbed? Is that a real problem?”

I would say, “The Greens were never robbed until the state came into their house and took their baby. Those are the bad guys.”

DEAN BECKER: Let me jump in here for a second. We’re speaking with Charmie Gholson out of Michigan talking about CPS’s overreach, CPS’s inquisition from my perspective – taking little babies from their parents because they’re afraid there’s too much value in the house. They’re afraid that somehow it’s a threat to the child when truth be told these people, the parents of young Bree, were legal cannabis users and were no threat whatsoever. Your response there?

CHARMIE GHOLSON: Here’s my take on this, Dean. There’s no threat of someone breaking into the house to steal medical marijuana from the Greens. The Greens were not on trial in that courtroom. The entire Medical Marihuana Act was because of this orchestrated strategy to undermine the Medical Marihuana Act.

One of the ways they take so many children away from the families...by the way whenever a judge or a referee issues a child removal order in Michigan it’s like a $12,000 voucher – they get $12,000 for taking that child.

Whenever they do that a huge portion of those people are using marijuana. Why? A lot of people use marijuana - a lot of good parents use marijuana. Once they get their foot in the door they can come after you for anything. They can monitor you, fine you...I know families in Michigan who pay to see their kids – 50 bucks a pop. You got a visitation with your child? That’ll be $50.

The judge in the Greens’ case said openly in court...he challenged the Greens’ status as a marijuana patient. Steve Green has grand mal seizure which he stopped with concentrated cannabis oil that the 34 pharmaceutical drugs he was taking were not able to do. He challenged his status as a patient. He wanted a board certified neurologist to say yes he has grand mal seizures and yes cannabis can help.

When you get the card that’s supposed to work for you. When you get pulled over by the cops and there’s your driver’s license they never say, “Is this valid?”

It is issued from the state but that’s what they’ve been doing systematically in the courts – challenging every little bit along the way as they can with the hopes that it would get to the higher courts. We’ve had plenty of medical marijuana cases reach the supreme court and the appellate court in Michigan with the hopes that the higher courts will agree on their very narrow interpretation of our law and remove the protection.

They’ve been an incredibly effective strategy. We’ve had...most of the dispensaries have been shut down because of supreme court rulings. They just outlawed concentrates, butters and all of those things in the appellate court. We’re in very hostile territory here and the family court system is not excluded from that hostility. They are working to maintain the status quo and keep the failed drug war gears in motion.

DEAN BECKER: You are involved with the marijuana...medical ...what am I trying to say here?

CHARMIE GHOLSON: [laughing] We have a great relationship, yeah.

DEAN BECKER: You work for medical marijuana in the state, correct? What is the name of your organization?

CHARMIE GHOLSON: I was the owner of the Midwest Cultivator for 4 years. I published quarterly this marijuana trade journal and I traveled the state and delivered it and asked people how it was going and how the law enforcement was in their area. I was very, very blessed in that way that I was able to travel the state while I was working on the Cultivator and meet with people and get a client reading for how it was working in the state.

I was a former staff writer for LEAP as well, Law Enforcement Against Prohibition. God bless those folks. They gave me my education in every single way about what’s wrong with the drug war, how to fix it, methods with the media.

Now I’m the founder of Michigan Moms United. I’m going to put a Speakers’ Bureau up just like LEAP has done...women and families the resources they need to speak out in their region about whatever kind of issues they got going on with medical marijuana or in their lives.

I also sit on the steering committee for the National Moms United to End the War on Drugs campaign. They’ve got a campaign right now...if you search Moms United to End the War on Drugs you’ll find something called the Empty Chair at the Table campaign. If you’ve got a loved one that is incarcerated due to the drug war, has died from an accidental overdose or isn’t welcome in your home during the holidays because of the drug use stigma you just take a picture of your loved on in an empty chair and send it in or just use the empty chair picture for your profile picture on Facebook.

We really work to reduce the stigma of drug use and end the mass incarceration and the drug war.

DEAN BECKER: This situation with young Bree Green is not the only one. What else can you tell us from around the country?

CHARMIE GHOLSON: Well, my goodness...I mean it’s not an isolated incident. I was just reading today something about I think just in San Diego courts are continuing to take children from their medical marijuana patients. Certainly the beautiful little girl, Alexis, in Texas – a 2-year-old girl that was killed in foster care after they took her from her father who smoked marijuana.

Baby Graham – beautiful little family. They had home-birthed children, organic gardening. The Butte Country Drug Task Force came in with guns. The SWAT team took her nursing infant from her breast and her 2-year-old and then took the next baby that she had.

Just really horrific scenes all across the country and here in Michigan I’ve talked to 60 families, Dean, just since September who are desperate for help. You might know that Ed Rosenthal has a fund for this exact thing. We are hoping to replicate that with the Free Bree Foundation. Maria Green is the mother of Bree.

That was our chant while Bree was gone, “Free Bree.” She’s got a blog and we’re starting a foundation so that we can also find the ideal CPS case – medical marijuana or marijuana CPS case and get it to trial.

Prosecutors...you know the prosecutors are out of control. They all have aspirations for political...getting a better status politically. If you have a prosecutor who is hell bent on going after you you’re screwed.

We want to find the right case and put it to a jury trial because they avoid going to jury trial so everybody can see their tactics and how unethical and, at times, illegal they are. We really, really want to change this in Michigan. We want to stop this abuse. We want them to acknowledge and adhere to the Medical Marihuana Act and we want them to just leave us the heck alone.

DEAN BECKER: A couple weeks back I had Jamie Fellner of Human Rights Watch on. We were talking about the plea bargain situation – you know, take the 5 years or we’ll give you 20. That plays out all across this nation. It is extortion or something.

We got a couple minutes left. I wanted to hand it over to you with this thought that you with Michigan Moms United are just one entity and there are similar organizations all around the country who would love more membership, would love more people who are listening to contact them, to be part of this change because people are so afraid to speak up even though they know this to be true.

Charmie, go ahead.

CHARMIE GHOLSON: It’s true. Here’s some more good news. I do want to leave you with some hope because the work that we do, Dean...and God Bless you for the work that you do. I know that you’ve doing this radio show for a long time. Whenever I have the good fortune of being in the same room with you you are just really working hard.

It’s a real war. This is a real war with real guns, real soldiers, real strategies and real funding. My personal belief is if you are not ready to stand up and speak out it’s OK. I understand but this machine is going to continue to spit out sausage and more and more victims.

There are people who can stand up and speak out and those numbers are increasing especially when they take our children. I know that Sara...what’s her name? I met these really beautiful women at the Drug Policy Alliance...Sara Melissa Arnold and her partner, Jen. They are working on the east coast – Family Law and Family Alliance so there are more and in the movement that are merging, coming out and saying, “No, no you can’t hurt our families anymore.”

Did I do what you wanted me to do? Did I answer your question correctly, Dean?

DEAN BECKER: You are and I guess the point is that’s why I do these shows to encourage and motivate, kick in the butt those out there who know this to be true but, you know, they say they’ve got work constraints or family constraints or church constraints or whatever.

From my perspective there is nothing more moral than working to end this madness of drug war. We’ve got less than a minute...go ahead.

CHARMIE GHOLSON: I agree. I absolutely agree. Remember what Ira Glass...is his name Glass or Glasser over at DPA...

DEAN BECKER: It’s got an “er” – Glasser.

CHARMIE GHOLSON: He talked about the long arc of justice and how it’s really not even a race – it’s a marathon relay race because we run as smart and as hard and as fast as we can and we only have our opinion and the people we are trying to help and in the end we just hand that baton off and the next person keeps running. Down the road you can see that long arc of justice bending down so we can get some things done.

I embrace that. I really do because what we’re doing is making a huge difference. People are waking up. They absolutely are because of your work and all the work of LEAP and all these other organizations are making a change.

DEAN BECKER: We’ve got 5 seconds. Please point them to your website.

CHARMIE GHOLSON: You can call me at 734-620-7277 as I’m working on the website right now (http://www.momsunited.net/)

Thank you so much for interviewing me, Dean. I hope you are doing well out there.

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(Game show music)

DEAN BECKER: It’s time to play: Name That Drug by Its Side Effects.

ANNOUNCER: Side effects may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, incarceration, erotic lustfulness, loss of odor control, loss of clothing, loss of money, loss of virginity, delusions of grandeur, table dancing, headache, dehydration, dry mouth and a desire to sing karaoke and play all night rounds of strip poker, truth or dare and naked twister.

Also may cause you to think you can sing and may lead you to believe that ex-lovers are really dying for you to telephone them at 4 in the morning. It may create the illusion that you are tougher, smarter, faster and better looking than most people. And it may lead you to think people are laughing with you. May cause pregnancy. And it may also be a major factor in getting your ass kicked.

So what are you waiting for? Stop hiding and start living - with Tequila!

{{{ gong }}}

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DEAN BECKER: Well, as the Christmas season is approaching folks are trying to do the right thing, trying to look at what is going on and maybe make a difference and so, too, here in Houston there’s a group that’s trying to bring some common sense to our jail crisis, to our criminal justice system. Here to talk about it from End Mass Incarceration Houston is Mr. Ray Hill. How are you doing, Ray?

RAY HILL: I am doing well, Dean, and I appreciate this opportunity to chat with your audience about stuff that they might not normally think of but I think it’s very important.

DEAN BECKER: We have an effort that’s going to happen on Christmas day here. Tell the folks what we hope to do.

RAY HILL: On Christmas day, this Christmas day as in every previous Christmas day there’s a whole bunch of people locked up and many of them are locked up for non-violent, only theft concerned, drug offenses. Around the holidays they are separated from their families so Christmas day in Harris County is going to be a “visit day” so that the wives and the children and the mothers of people locked up in Texas jail (some of them are going to visit their mothers. Others are going to visit their fathers.) are going to go down to the jail which is no place for a kid to go.

I hope your audience understands that the bulk of the excess prison and jail population are people who are non-violent, locked up for simple possession or delivery of mostly small amounts of controlled substances. That population in county jails is even higher because it is pre-negotiated deals to end their trials. You might miss prison but you’re going to spend some time in jail.

We thought we would gather down there, pass out some information so that those people can get networked in and not be so isolated realizing that End Mass Incarceration and other support groups like NORML and LEAP and Drug Policy Forum want to tell them that they are not alone.

While we’re at it bring a little joy into the lives of the kids who have just gone through the uncomfortable situation of talking to their mothers or their fathers through a visit room glass and screen.

DEAN BECKER: I’ve been in those rooms and it is for lack of a better term a madhouse with these screens that you can barely hear through and with the cacophony of those around you. It will be a wonderful thing to kind of quell the fears of those children when they come out of the jail.

RAY HILL: Dean, you and I are adults so we can see what’s going on and we can adapt to it but if you’re a child separated from your father or mother you need a touch, you need a hug and that is not happening in those visiting quarters. Little communication is happening and touching and hugging is forbidden. Anything that we can do to lift the spirits of those children would be a positive and seasonally appropriate thing to do.

DEAN BECKER: I’m going to be there as will members of LEAP, NORML, Drug Policy Forum of Texas but we’re hoping other folks will turn out, will come to understand that this is a change in policy and interpretation that just has to occur.

Point them to the website and how they can get involved.

RAY HILL: Just go to Facebook however you get to Facebook and lookup in your Facebook search engine “End Mass Incarceration Houston” and you’ll go straight to our Facebook page.

On a larger end let me tell folks while I’ve got their attention that if you really enjoy the present situation then don’t do anything because if the world doesn’t need fixing for you don’t try to fix it but if you’re concerned about the insecurity that you worry about when your children leave the house and go to school and some cop is going to pick them up and maybe plant some drugs on them whether they have any or not and they would up in jail...if you’re concerned about those kinds of things then for God’s sake get off your lazy butt and do something.

If you think that activism and bringing change is a popularity sport, work so that everybody loves you – that’s not how it works. You‘ve got to be the least popular person in a room full of uncomfortable people if you want to make change happen.

My encouragement to your audience is don’t be passive. Become an activist. Become involved. Your vote is important but your voice is even better. Do stuff so that we don’t have to put up with this forever.

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DEAN BECKER: Once again, that was Mr. Ray Hill, the patriarch of KPFT, one of the flagship stations of Pacifica, a leader of national marches against war and homophobia and my good friend.

We want you at this event, http://facebook.com/endmassincarcerationhouston. It’s going to be Christmas day from 4 to 6 p.m. at 1200 Baker Street. I’ve been informed that my good friend, former Houstonian, the founder of Oaksterdam University, Mr. Richard Lee will be there with us.

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DEAN BECKER: Tuesday, December 9 may go down in history as a date that changed the world. The following from the New York Times.

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“SANTIAGO, Chile - Uruguay's Senate approved legislation on Tuesday that will allow the country to legalize the cultivation and sale of marijuana on a nationwide scale. Uruguay's leftist president, Jose Mujica, a supporter of the measure, has signaled that he will enact the legislation in coming days.

Under the legislation, approved by a vote of 16 to 13, Uruguay would create a state-run Institute for the Regulation and Control of Cannabis to oversee the planting, harvesting and sale of marijuana. The drug would be sold at pharmacies, with buyers signing up in a state registry, a process enabling them to purchase up to 40 grams a month at $1 a gram.

The action on the bill followed years of debate in Uruguay, which has been grappling with an increase in drug-related violence. Opponents contended the measure would open the way for greater drug use in Uruguay, while supporters claimed it would remove the marijuana trade from the domain of illegal traffickers, allowing the authorities to regulate its consumption.”

As for me I consider this to be a Christmas gift to the world.

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DEAN BECKER: This is a Drug Truth editorial:

Many people who work for certain corporations and for state and federal government are denied access to cannabis, subject to random drug screens and forced screening if near a workplace accident. Just as with Michael Phelps, Sanantonio Holmes, Ricky Williams and hundreds of high caliber professional athletes it is possible to not only succeed but to thrive despite the use of cannabis.

President Obama, Mayor Bloomberg and even Steve Jobs soared to the peak of success despite use of cannabis. So, too, can accountants and machinists, cops, judges, firefighters and myriad of workers constrained by our nation’s desperate need to examine the urine of our fellow citizens.

Cannabis has been shown to be a safer alternative to deadly alcohol. Let us judge people by their actions not the plant products which may be found in their pocket, purse or urine stream.

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DEAN BECKER: As always, I remind you, because of prohibition you don’t know what’s in that bag. Please, be careful.

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DEAN BECKER: To the Drug Truth Network listeners around the world, this is Dean Becker for Cultural Baggage and the Unvarnished Truth.

This show produced at the Pacifica Studios of KPFT Houston.

Tap dancing… on the edge… of an abyss.

Transcript provided by: Jo-D Harrison of www.DrugSense.org