01/20/17 Beto O'Rourke

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Texas Rep Beto O'Rourke, Texas medical cannabis patients Erica Tucker busted for cannabis & breast feeding in Johnson Co where the DA under investigation for corruption, Makayla Farley & her grandpa Phillip Blanton busted for trying to bring MMJ from California to her hospital bed

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TRANSCRIPT

CULTURAL BAGGAGE

JANUARY 20, 2017

TRANSCRIPT

DEAN BECKER: You are listening to Cultural Baggage on the Drug Truth Network and Pacifica Radio. I'm Dean Becker, your host.

PHILLIP BLANTON: [music] I sit around every day,
Look at my granddaughter and say
I love you.

I watch her tears and see the pain,
I play my guitar
And start to sing.
I see her smile,
I see her rock
Back and forth for old grandpa.

I rub her feet,
Massage her back,
Let her know
I ain't going nowhere.

I'm here four weeks,
Won't let her down.
Whatever it takes,
I'm staying here in town,

Until she leaves,
I take her home,
My Makayla,
I love her so.

This is what I do, Dean, I just sit around and make up words and silly songs, sometimes she laughs, sometimes she cries, most of the time she's just smiling and rocking back and forth, giving me a thumbs-up, thank you papa, and I watch her relax. And watch the stress and the worry, just kind of watch it drain away out of her face. Next thing you know we're just having a good conversation. Everything seems normal for a while. Try to keep my sanity, try to not go crazy with grief, and I see her smile and I start feeling better too.

It's every little thing I can do, any little thing I can do to ease the pain and help her relax, it helps her get through this. So that's what I do. I don't know what else to do, my hands are tied. But I know one thing. I love my Makayla.

This is what I do, man.

DEAN BECKER: If you will, introduce yourself, tell us where you're from, what brings you to Houston.

PHILLIP BLANTON: Yeah. My name is Phillip Blanton. I am from the city of Newman, California, that's outside of Modesto, northern California. And I'm here in Houston for five to six weeks to assist my granddaughter, Makayla Farley. She was diagnosed over a year ago with Hodgkin's disease lymphoma, stage four, there is no stage five or six, stage four is it.

So they've been aggressively battling the cancer here for this past year, and then they brought her here to do stem cell and bone marrow, and so I'm here to stay with her and assist her as much as I can.

DEAN BECKER: Well, you had a rude awakening when you made it to Texas. Please tell us a little bit about that.

PHILLIP BLANTON: Oh, Dean, it's been a nightmare. I never dreamed what happened would actually happen to me. I came here to assist my daughter, help her with my granddaughter, Makayla, because I'm a medical marijuana patient in California. I have my doctor's prescription for my medicine. I also have a state card that I get from the state of California with my ID to show at any time that I am pulled over or questioned about my marijuana. I show my ID, and I am left alone, because they know I'm a legal medical marijuana patient. I'm not a recreational user.

So, I saw my granddaughter's plight, I came here last year at the beginning of this, and I shared some CBD oil with my daughter, telling her how it's being used to aid so many patients with so many different needs, and especially cancer, it's been very positive in killing cancer, and recovery from chemotherapy, and nausea, and vomiting. So, we tried some of that with my granddaughter, and we, my daughter accidentally gave her a little bit too much, and never being around marijuana, CBD oil, my granddaughter was kind of lethargic and out of it, but laying in bed for two days. And she had smiles on her faces, and she was in a happy place, and when she finally came to, all the swelling that was in her body was gone, and that's the first thing my granddaughter when waking up, is, mama, all my swelling's gone down. She goes, I don't know where I've been for two days, but I sure feel good now.

You know? So, the level of pain dropped, and the swelling went away, that the chemo had been causing her, and because of the fear of being arrested, and the fear of the problems that it may cause, my granddaughter was a little paranoid to continue that therapy at that time. But now, after seeing more testimonies and learning more about it, my granddaughter is intelligent, 4.0 grade average, goes to Sam Houston University when she's feeling well, and she decided that this is what I need for me, because when I go now to my chemo, other parents are coming up and telling her, hey, young lady, and to their mom, have you tried the CBD, have you tried marijuana cookies, have you tried medical marijuana to help? Because my loved one over there is using it, and what a difference it makes.

So, see, Dean, they heard first hand from patients in the same room with her, from those patients and those mom and daddies that use medical marijuana, it will really increase the tolerability and for her to go through this chemo.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah. You know, it's not just the patients here who are aware, I'm sure many of the doctors and nurses are aware, and they subtly hint in that direction at times, and my god, a couple of weeks back I interviewed the police chief of Houston, mentioned that nearly every family in America has become aware of this potential, this useful cannabis for their loved ones, and he laughed, and agreed, and said, yeah, maybe in a few years, Texas can change their ways as well.

Who controls this mindset, that denies us, that's what really puzzles me. There's just a few people left that say this is bad medicine. Your thought there, Phillip.

PHILLIP BLANTON: Well, the way I think about that is I immediately think of these big drug companies, and I feel that they are pushing all the laws and initiatives to stop medical marijuana because if I can grow my own medicine in my back yard, Dean, and administer it to me all year long, I don't need pharmaceuticals anymore. But where the pharmaceuticals make a big mistake is, I still take pharmaceuticals for my ailments, but some I can't take because their side effects are so severe and hurt me so bad, my doctor said you can't take this anymore, and I said I don't want to take it anymore, because the side effects are killing me. So, my medical marijuana takes the place of so many other drugs that I can't take.

DEAN BECKER: Yeah, I do a segment right in the middle of my show usually, it's called Name That Drug By Its Side Effects, and we list the side effects, and, you know, say what it is, what it's, who it's made by. I don't tell people not to use it, but compared to marijuana, most of them are fairly dangerous stuff.

PHILLIP BLANTON: Well, Dean, let me ask you a question. What are the serious side effects of medical marijuana?

DEAN BECKER: Getting arrested, I guess.

PHILLIP BLANTON: That's the worst side effect. All the rest of it is munchies, I might want to eat, and if I eat, I get nourishment in my body. If I have pain, and it helps control that pain, I take less hydrocodone. I was on six to eight hydrocodones a day until the medical marijuana turned it all around, and now I'm on one a day.

DEAN BECKER: It really is boiling down to, what is common sense? What is morality? What in the heck are we doing, I guess, is what it really boils down to.

PHILLIP BLANTON: I think we need to get out of the dark ages. Get our heads out of our butt, and realize that marijuana has been used in this country from the beginning of it, with George Washington, he had his own pot farm, and Jefferson, what they did is, they had hemp farms, and hemp was one of the number one exports in the United States back in the day.

DEAN BECKER: In the beginning, you paid taxes with hemp if you wanted to.

PHILLIP BLANTON: Yeah, that -- you're right, paid taxes. I'd like to pay taxes to my government with hemp.

DEAN BECKER: Indeed. All right, friends, we've been speaking with Mister Phillip Blanton, with his granddaughter, Makayla, here in the Texas Medical Center. Any closing thoughts you'd like to share, Phillip?

PHILLIP BLANTON: I'd just like to ask anybody that's listening to this broadcast, or any of your broadcasts that you have, Dean, because you're such an awesome pot initiative person that I just love you to death, man. I want these people to reach in their hearts and ask themselves a question. If it was my granddaughter, lying on that bed, suffering, would you give them a cookie? Would you give them some CBD oil? And see a smile on that granddaughter's face, and the tears dry up, and the happiness return? Would you keep that happiness from your grandchild? Ask yourself.

MAKAYLA FARLEY: I'm Makayla Farley. I'm here at Houston Methodist because I have stage four Hodgkin's lymphoma cancer, and I'm getting -- I just had a stem cell transplant. This is January Fifth, and so, I'm just like right outside of the device a couple of days, just really really bad days, and now I'm up, coming towards the regular days and coming back.

DEAN BECKER: Well, that's good. I mean, I've seen you vomiting a time or two since I've been here, it's certainly, I guess, a reaction I guess to some of the treatment?

MAKAYLA FARLEY: Yes, sir.

DEAN BECKER: Have you found that through the use of cannabis that you're able to at least diminish some of those symptoms.

MAKAYLA FARLEY: Yeah, it feels a lot better, like, because my body's just like, eh, and I'm -- feel kind of like, like I'm walking around like a dead person or something, and the, whatever, papa will get me some of the cookies, it made me feel like a lot lighter, and a lot, like relaxed, and more like -- and it felt better.

DEAN BECKER: Now, your grandpa, and you, have made news. Your grandpa has been in the Chronicle and on CBS and other outlets, because he was bringing you that medicine. What's your thought about that situation?

MAKAYLA FARLEY: I just think it sucks that, you know, and especially when it's, since the cops admit to pulling him over just because he was from California, you know, and that's kind of like, I guess, profiling. I just think the whole thing is stupid, especially once they found out the reason why he was coming here. But, you know, Texas is Texas.

ERICA TUCKER: I am Erica Tucker. I am part of the Tucker Family, and we reside in Burleson, Texas.

DEAN BECKER: Last year, you were able to determine that you have epilepsy, and you were taking pharmaceutical pills, I guess, to --

ERICA TUCKER: Yes.

DEAN BECKER: -- control that, but, as I understand it was about $325 a month. That could be unbearable to a lot of families. Was it for yours as well?

ERICA TUCKER: Oh, yes, that was one of the reasons, main, and pretty much only reason why I wasn't able to take my medicines, because it was unbelievably pricey.

DEAN BECKER: And, so you did some research, and found out that cannabis is of benefit for those suffering from epilepsy. Correct?

ERICA TUCKER: Correct. Correct. It was one of the most natural, non-threatening types of ways to treat epilepsy.

DEAN BECKER: Now, this was going along well, kids were happy and healthy, and everything's good, but you had a grand mal seizure. Tell us what happened then, please.

ERICA TUCKER: I was out for about 20 minutes and had one when all my kids, thank god, they were home from school that day. It was a holiday. So I think god has placed all that, you know, I can't say it happened for a different reason, or anything like that, but I was so happy that they were here, and they were trained to know that mommy is sick, and if anything ever happened, you know, you dial 911 like we've always been taught since everyone's been young, you know, and it's considered emergency.

They called 911, did amazing. Paramedics showed up, fire department showed up, and they transported me to Huguley Hospital in Burleson, and I was seen by the nurse there.

DEAN BECKER: And she had some questions for you. Tell us the result of that, please.

ERICA TUCKER: She had asked me, and I'm still, mind you, out of it, just trying to come through, through everything, I don't remember half of the visit, and my husband had to fill me in with everything. She asked, you know, why aren't you taking your medicine, you know your life's at stake. And I'm just like, I cannot afford this medicine, it's too much. So, I said, I can't take this stuff. Then what are you doing to try to help? I said, I've been researching and I've been, you know, and tell her, marijuana, trying to do whatever I can to get it in my system, that way I can, you know, make myself better.

So, she started going on the list of, you know, are you pregnant? Do you breastfeed? It's the normal questions they ask, and I did say yes, I breastfed, you know, not thinking anything of it, you know, I'm very honest so I'm going to say stuff like that. And as soon as I said that, her tone just got even more, like, worse towards me. I was just getting hammered with, that is wrong, you are hurting your child when you do that, you should not be breastfeeding and smoking marijuana, you have no idea of what that can do to your child. And, I did not realize until about two weeks ago, my husband told me, they made you take a drug test in the hospital ER.

And he said that they said, yes, you are positive for marijuana, for THC. So, we get discharged about 4:45 that afternoon, and 6:30, CPS was pounding on my door, because the nurse had called CPS on us, because I was using cannabis while nursing my son.

Most people don't know their rights when it comes to CPS, so I had no idea what my rights were. I'd never been in trouble like that, so it was very, very scary. I was still on the couch. They came in the house, and were like, you were reported by the hospital for using marijuana while nursing your son, and we need to have him in a safe place, not in your care, this isn't a safe environment. And I was just baffled, like, how, how would you even determine that? I mean, how would you know they're not in a safe place? They have their own beds, their rooms are clean, my house is clean, my fridge was stocked. They went around my house and took pictures of everything, my fridge, you know, everything.

And, it was very invading. Very, very scary, and very intimidating. The investigator we had was just hammering us with questions on how harmful it is to my child, and how, you know, it could damage our child, and have them, you know, like, really effect them in the most negative type of way. And, the -- my mom had just shown up to check on us because she was with us earlier that morning, went to eat with my stepdad, and then came over to make sure I was doing okeh and feeling better. When she showed up after CPS was here, they said, are you the grandparent? And my mom said, yes, we are, my dad said yes. And they said, well, can they stay with you? Because if they would have said no, they would have been in foster care. And my parents go, yeah, we have two bedrooms, that's perfectly fine.

So, that weekend they went to stay with them, and then we found out on Monday, this was Friday night, Monday, after they talked to the head supervisor of CPS of our case, they said nope, we want these kids removed, they can't be around the kids unless they're supervised, which was devastating compared to being with my kids 24/7, home schooling, doing everything with my children, and then to say, you are not allowed to be around your kids unless you're supervised, was just devastating.

So they were put with my parents. We had to pack everything up that was theirs and take it to my parents, their beds, their bunk beds, toys, everything. It happened so fast, and there was so many emotions just flying, because, we just completely thought it was wrong, you know, completely wrong.

DEAN BECKER: But how long did CPS force you to give your children to your parents?

ERICA TUCKER: It was a long five months, which doesn't seem like -- doesn't sound long, but it was very long. They made us do drug classes, we had to go to narcotics anonymous class, we had to do individual counseling, parenting counseling, budgeting class, couples therapy, and we also, I, they made me take a mental exam to make sure I was all completely sane, and that that wasn't triggering my seizures.

DEAN BECKER: Oh, my. After the long five months, what happened next?

ERICA TUCKER: We passed everything, we had actually passed all of our testing, they made us do like three hair testings, and then, but we took all of our classes, so when my son, they tested him for any type of drugs, all the other kids came back negative, my son tested slightly positive for THC in his system, and they made sure we completely cleared it. Well, when his test came back positive, they sent it over to Burleson Police Department, and the detective over our case, he could have dropped the charges and just said, eh, you know, it was kind of petty, we don't need to pick this up, but instead, he decided to pursue charges of child endangerment against us, my husband and I, which is Johnson County has decided to pursue the charges as well.

So, right now we're fighting all of that, but it took a good two months after we had done everything they had said before he actually came home 100 percent.

DEAN BECKER: But what is the current situation, what's going on at this time?

ERICA TUCKER: We are going to trial, we had our arraignment in December, and we have a trial date coming up this Friday, and one in March. We have to do a jury trial to fight the child endangerment charge, because I was nursing while using cannabis.

DEAN BECKER: And yet this, somehow they charged your husband under that same premise.

ERICA TUCKER: Yes.

DEAN BECKER: Wow. You know, it's baffling sometimes, that, you know, studies have been done, a major one in Jamaica, showing that mothers who are pregnant and or nursing that use cannabis do not curtail their children's development in any way.

ERICA TUCKER: I just want to say, I'm so unbelievably thankful for everybody sharing our story and getting it out there. We've only had a petition going around for 24 hours and had almost 500 signatures, in a matter of 24 hours. We just want to thank everybody for all of your support and your love.

DEAN BECKER: Well, Erica, please share the website of that petition.

ERICA TUCKER: You can actually find it on our Facebook page, just search three words, The Tucker Life, and you'll be able to find our petition, it's pinned to the top of our page.

DEAN BECKER: It's time to play Name That Drug By Its Side Effects! Nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, cirrhosis, psychosis, and dementia. The number one contributor to domestic violence and deaths on American highways. Time's up! The answer: beer. Taxed, regulated, and freely available in all non-Muslim countries.

Once again, we're privileged to have here in the city of Houston US Congressman Beto O'Rourke. What's your agenda for this evening, sir?

US REPRESENTATIVE BETO O'ROURKE: Dean, good to be with you again. Well, I'm visiting Houston in part to get a better understanding of what's going on in the states, trying to meet with folks from all different backgrounds, whether it's in business, whether they're veterans who want to tell me how the local VA is doing, which I'm going to visit tomorrow, whether it's folks that I'm meeting with tonight in the Young Democrats of Harris County. I want to find out what's going right, what we can do better.

DEAN BECKER: Now, Beto, you know my focus. I try to maintain a singular focus, it is the drug war, and of late it's been a very specific focus on marijuana, in particular, I'm aware, is about all I can say, of a little two year old who's been able to go from 300 epileptic seizures per day to two, zero, two seizures per day, which is making an enormous difference in his ability to walk, talk, et cetera. And there are many others, just returned from an interview I did with a young lady in Methodist Hospital who has Hodgkin's disease, cancer, undergoing immunotherapies and all kinds of things, but she is finding benefit through the use of cannabis as well.

What's it going to take to get the Congress to really open their eyes and look at this benefit of this plant?

US REPRESENTATIVE BETO O'ROURKE: You know, I think folks in Congress, folks in the Texas state legislature, they want to do the right thing. I really think that, and one of the big surprises for me in being in Congress after I got there, how good most members of Congress were. I kind of subscribed to the impression that most Americans have, that it's a bunch of bums, and, you know, they're corrupt, and they're beholden to special interests. There's some of that going on, but most men and women who serve in the Congress, most men and women in the state legislature, are decent people, trying to do the right thing. They may just come at it from a different perspective. They may not have the experience you have on this issue, or someone else does on another issue.

So, what we have to do as citizens of this state, as citizens of this country, is help our elected leaders get to the right place. They want to get there, they're good people. If the facts are presented to them, if there's the political pressure, if they know that their constituents are there, they're going to find a way to get there as well.

We saw this happen in the 1930s, when we understood that the then-prohibition on alcohol, while well intentioned, was causing far more harm than good, and that, that the American people knew that, and ultimately, their elected representatives caught up with them, and we had repeal, we had a new set of laws that ensured that we regulated, we taxed, we controlled, but ultimately, we allowed adults to do what they wanted, do what they were going to do anyhow, even if it was illegal. There are so many parallels between that time and our time now, when it comes to marijuana, and this unscientific, unhelpful, and I think well-intentioned prohibition on this now controlled substance.

And I, I'm convinced that, if we can show our lawmakers that we'll do a better job of keeping kids off pot when we have a public health message around it, when we treat it like we have treated some of the other issues that we've advertised to young people, we've seen tobacco use in this country amongst young people drop by more than half over the last 40 years, at the same time that we've seen marijuana use amongst teenagers, and now even middle schoolers, persist at the same levels, because we criminalize it.

So, there's so many reasons to do the right thing. You know that, you've been absolutely articulate and eloquent on this for a very long time. I think together, and you're seeing it state by state happen, we need to help our leadership get to that place.

DEAN BECKER: Yes, sir. Now, Beto, see if I can wrap this up with the thought that, it was 31 and a half years ago, I quit drinking alcohol, my drug of destruction, and, it's, I think since that point in time, I've probably smoked many pounds of marijuana, gone on to work and succeed in many endeavors, but what I have done, sir, is to challenge the logic of the drug war in general, and to challenge my local elected officials, which is the only ones who I could get on the radio. Of late, the district attorney, the new sheriff, and the new police chief have all come out for ending marijuana arrests and for an advanced study and perhaps utilization of medical marijuana itself.

And I guess sir what I'm trying to say here is that I had the courage to stand up and speak up, and the folks out there listening now, it's not near as treacherous a path to take anymore. They should just stand up and say what they know to be true. Correct?

US REPRESENTATIVE BETO O'ROURKE: That's right, and I think Texans of all backgrounds, of all political persuasions, are coming to the same conclusion. You know, one, that the war on drugs, and specifically the prohibition and interdiction first, and jail first, policies around marijuana, have done more harm than good, and two, to start with the example that you gave at the beginning of this interview, there are life improving and, in some cases, positively life altering medical uses, for cannabis, that parents of young children who need that, children of aging parents with cancer, or glaucoma, who need that, and can use it, are demanding, and so, you will see, I'm certain, in the not too distant future, Texas begin to take ever more positive steps in the right direction towards that.

But ultimately, what we need and what we saw during the prohibition of alcohol at the outset of the twentieth century, is you ultimately need the Congress to act. You need this to be a federal decision. It's great that states individually are taking this matter into their own hands, but you ultimately need the federal government to bind this all together, to get us to the right place.

And it has to be done thoughtfully, it has to be done in a way that looks out for the most vulnerable among us, and I think of kids, first and foremost, and it has to be done in a way that is up front with the dangers that are involved, with some of the concerns, legitimate concerns, that people have, but still moves forward nonetheless and allows us to get to where this country wants to be. As you know, the polling on this has changed from being deeply unfavorable to highly favorable today, and as with many issues, and it's just the way our system of government works, it's typically the elected leadership in Congress that are lagging behind the rest of the country. Whether it was civil rights, whether it was women's suffrage before that, whether it is our drug laws today, Congress has the responsibility and ultimately will catch up with the rest of the country. We just have an interest in that happening sooner than later, and I certainly want to be part of that in Congress in whatever role I can play.

DEAN BECKER: All right, folks, there you have it, from El Paso, Texas, US Congressman Beto O'Rourke.

All I can do is ask you to do your part to end this reefer madness. You can learn much more at our website, DrugTruth.net. Again I remind you, because of prohibition you don't know what's in that bag, please be careful.

Dean Becker Wants YOU to Call the Drug Czar